I’m writing this post so that sometime in the future I can look back and see how my learning has changed and grown.
I was introduced to the concept of learning progressions some time ago, but recently, I have really started to consider how to apply this knowledge in my work as a reading specialist/interventionist. Learning progressions make so much more sense to me than a standards, benchmarks, indicators description of learning. SBIs, as they are sometimes called, always left feeling like there was a huge “Yes, but…” following. Were they enough to really capture what readers and writers know and do?
The brilliant work of Lucy Calkins and her team at Teacher’s College has created learning progressions in reading and writing which have changed me as a teacher. They have named and explained so many steps of reading and writing processes that help me understand the work of students and my own reading and writing work.
Recently I read some articles about creating learning progressions and began to see that learning progressions can be broken down into ever smaller increments, similar to what I understand about the nature of fractals like broccoli. If you take a head of broccoli and break off a spear, the spear closely resembles the whole head. If you take the spear and break off a floret, the floret resembles the spear. Fractals occur in nature and can be created with mathematical equations that reiterate to create patterns. See some beautiful photos of fractals here.
So I started to think about how to name a step I want students to take next. What are the tiny steps to that next step? What would they look like? Sound like? How would I know when a step was taken? Could I celebrate the ever smaller increments on the learning progression?
When I consider the students I work with, each is different in their reading strengths and struggles. Even though I may not know exactly where to meet them on the path toward being a lifelong reader or writer, I can try to walk the path for a while with them and see what they can teach me about the terrain they are crossing.