In the last couple of years, I’ve been working on how to integrate LDC modules into my elementary classroom. As a former 4th grade teacher, there was a lot of reason to use this platform for integrating ELA and science and/or social studies standards. LDC allowed me to ask big questions and guide students towards substantial reading and writing goals. The problem I had was in integrating the modules into the complex machine that is my instruction.
When I moved to a 2nd grade position, this problem became even more evident. With a pretty big focus on foundational skills, the idea of using LDC modules, in their entirety, with fidelity, was just plain overwhelming. There is no doubt that the CCSS are rigorous and it would be a disservice to students to only focus on foundational skills. I needed to find a way to implement these high-yield literacy strategies into my classroom. That’s when I decided I would take this one step at a time.
Years ago I participated in GLAD training. I loved everything about the instructional strategies taught. But I remember feeling the same overwhelming sense. At that point, there was no way to fully integrate the practice as a whole without giving up everything I already had happening in the classroom (and a lot of sleep!). I became effective in using GLAD strategies by focusing on one at a time and integrating bits and pieces as I saw fit. To this day I am not the teacher of a GLAD classroom, but I am a teacher that uses so many of the strategies.
With LDC, I took the same approach. I started with mini-tasks. According to the LDC website, “Mini-tasks are small, scorable assignments that address a particular literacy skill that a teacher has selected to target based on assessing the needs of students.” I had an overarching science goal for my students: SWBAT explain how various living organisms rely on one another for survival. When I thought about how to approach this, I realized I could easily use this content to effectively teach a significant number of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. As integration seems to be necessary to “fit everything into the school year,” looking at some mini tasks was a great way to look at using my time effectively to hit many standards at one time.
I could not commit to completing a whole module with my class, so I looked at doing a series of tasks to get students working within the ELA standards, while learning about the concept presented. I focused only on the characteristics of wolf packs.
- Students read a magazine article about wolves. We focused on using headings to find the main idea of a passage. Students were guided through a process of turning headings into questions and then searching for the answers of their questions in the text.
- Together, we watched a film about researchers that had lived with and studied wolves. I taught the students how to chunk auditory information into different main ideas. We used a simplified note taking strategy to listen for main ideas and key details.
- Students worked on brainstorming categories of information from multiple sources that could be turned into main ideas and/or paragraphs (differentiation for students was key here!). I used some commercial writing materials to guide students in creating prewrites for informational text. I was proud of this step of my journey because I didn’t stress myself or my students out by straying away from materials we have found effective for writing in the past. However, I used my mini lessons prior to this to provide more effective background for this instruction.
- Students used a process we’d worked with previously to turn their prewrites into paragraphs about why wolves need to live in packs for survival.
I stopped there. There were many other organisms and animal structures to look at in order for students to be able to fully meet my goal. There were connections and comparisons to be made about the world around us. There was research to be done. And we did that. We did it effectively, as 90% of my students were able to achieve this goal either in written form or oral form. Since I had told myself I would focus on just a few mini tasks that could at some point be written into an LDC module, I didn’t force anything more.
I didn’t end the year with a completed module. I didn’t even end the year with named and fully aligned mini-tasks. However, I found that the intentional process of working on integrating literacy with content in chewable sizes gave me the knowledge to be able to integrate these strategies into my future lessons. This is why I was proud. I used mini-tasks in my instruction and found success with them. My students were asking deeper questions, gathering information more effectively, and producing greater evidence of learning that before. That’s my stepping stone to finding ways to continue to integrate LDC into my primary classroom.
I grew up here in Western Washington, wanting to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. As the oldest child in my family, I had plenty of opportunities to "practice" teaching my younger siblings. I enjoyed this. They may not have. :) When I'm not working, I enjoy outdoor activities with my husband and our two Australian Shepherds (whom are far too spoiled for their own good!). I also love spending time with my family, being an auntie (to the cutest kids ever to grace this planet!), hosting dinner parties for friends, crafting, taking photographs and shopping.