Wednesday, February 19, 2014

You should read: Fundamental Five

I recently finished the Fundamental 5 by Sean Cain and Mike Laird.  It is very practical for teachers.  Below are my highlighted areas in the book.

Frame the Lesson: 

Determine the critical concept you wish to cover.  Put it in kid friendly language that they can understand.  Our I can statements will fit well into here.  This is the daily objective frame of the lesson.

All students should be able to understand the critical component the teacher sets out to achieve. This is best done through the use of formative assessment, and demonstrated through some kind of end product, question, or activity.  Many have used the exit card idea to wrap up the lesson. (Cain & Laird, 2011)
"A great lesson frame is like an Oreo cookie. One cookie is the concrete, student-friendly learning objective, One cookie is the closing question, product or task.  The yummy, creamy filling is all of the great instruction that brings it all together."  (Cain & Laird, p. 40)

Work in the Power Zone:  

Where do you spend the majority of your time teaching? The Power Zone refers to the proximity of your instruction to students.  Are you the sage on the stage? Do you deliver instruction from your desk? These are ineffective areas to address misbehavior and to maintain high levels of engagement.

Think about the setup of your room.  When you are providing instruction where do you spend the majority of your time?  How close in proximity are you to students?  Does your current classroom setup allow you to get into the Power Zone? Students are more likely to behave, and to pay attention when you are in close proximity.  Set a goal of being in close proximity to one or more students in excess of 75% of a given class period. (Cain & Laird, 2011)

Examples of three Power Zones below.

Power Zone #1 (p. 45)



Power Zone #2 (p. 46)


Power Zone #3 (p. 47)



Frequent, Small-Group, Purposeful, Talk about the Learning (FSGPT):

This is another way to check for learning.  On average how long do you go without checking for understanding?  FSGPT involves stopping the lesson every 10-15 minutes to discuss the learning in small groups.

  1. Two to four group members. 
  2. Discuss for thirty seconds to three minutes around what they call seed questions - the questions are predetermined and focused on the lesson objective.  
  3. Teacher remains in the above mentioned Power Zone. (Cain & Laird, 2011)

Example: (p. 57)


"FSGPT provides opportunities for students who get "it" to get "it" better and for students who do not get "it" to hear the material again, but in a language (student talk) that they better understand."
Recognize and Reinforce: 

The fourth fundamental is recognizing and reinforcing the behaviors that we believe are important for our kids.  It goes back to what Todd Whitaker said to us a few weeks ago.  Does it depend on who is walking down the hall on whether you say hi to them?  Do we recognize and reinforce good behaviors that occur from our biggest behavior kids?  Do we use sarcasm?  Do we greet students at the door or remain at our desk checking email as they enter?

Recognize and reinforce the behaviors you want to occur in your school or classroom.  Engage and nurture your students and focus on the positive behaviors that you wish to see.  Set a goal or two for the remainder of the year to recognize and reinforce specific behaviors. (Cain & Laird, 2011)

Write Critically: 

There is a common belief that writing is only for English teachers.  We have to break this misconception.  Reading and writing go hand in hand.  Writing critically should be cross curricular regardless of the content area.
"The process of writing critically requires the learner to take a subconscious idea, expand on that idea, connect it to other subconscious ideas, and bring that to the conscious level through the tangible act of writing." (Cain & Laird, 2011 p. 82)
According to Cain and Laird critical writing can be: (p.83)

  1. Simple list
  2. Short comparison paragraph
  3. Quick summary
  4. Mind map
  5. Purposeful note taking
  6. A written exit ticket
  7. Formal essay
  8. Term paper 
"Writing critically increases both the amount of material that can be recalled by the learner and the speed at which it can be recalled." (Cain & Laird, p. 84)



I recommend reading the Fundamental 5 by Sean Cain and Mike Laird.  It is an easy read full of practical ideas that will help to improve classroom instruction.

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