Friday, June 14, 2013

Words With Friends Lessons

My dad and I enjoy playing Words with Friends. If you are unfamiliar with the game, it's like Scrabble, but we play it on our cell phones and receive a notification each time it is our turn. Though an octogenarian, he beats me soundly about 95 percent of the time. There are a couple reasons for this:  

1.     He does the daily crossword puzzle in his newspaper.  
2.    He is a voracious reader.  

Those contribute to his amazing vocabulary, but there is a deeper reason behind why I am typically trounced. Dad looks for the best move. I just look for a move.  

I am always so happy I can make a word that I just throw it on the game board. Dad looks at all the letters available to him, carefully examines the words in play, and then determines which option will be of greatest benefit.   

This realization led to an educational aha moment. I've had the opportunity to observe many teachers in my 16 years of experience.  Student progress and success has been the goal of everyone I have worked with, yet some teachers have gotten big results, whereas others haven't.  

Some teachers work their way through a curriculum, content just to have a lesson to teach. Other teachers, often the ones getting big results, work at teaching the way my dad plays Words with Friends. They carefully study the students in their classrooms, evaluate their resources, and then make decisions that will have the most impact.  

I want to be like them and like those of you who play the teaching game with such excellence.  If you want to join me, here's what I've learned we can do that will help us win:

  • Resolve to pay attention to what assessments are really telling us
  • Deepen our commitment to listen with our entire being when conferring 
  • Get to know the standards and how our classroom resources fit curricular goals and student needs
  • Endeavor to make intentional decisions that will help our students reach their full potential

And if you play Words with Friends,  keep Qi (pronounced ChÄ“)  in mind.  Not only does it refer to circulating life energy, but it's worth a lot of points, especially if you put it on a triple word score.  

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