Walking to read is the process of grouping kids in skill-alike groups for a small portion of the day.
Typically teachers in a grade level will "specialize" in a particular skill level grouping during Walk to Read and the students will "walk" to that group for targeted instruction.
In its best form, walking to read allows for more targeted, more efficient, more streamlined planning, instruction and assessment monitoring. It’s a GREAT option for a highly functional staff.
Notice that I said "Highly functional"…more to come on this…
For those who know me and hear me speak, you know that I am neither a supporter of the Walk to Read (WTR) model nor am I a naysayer.
And here’s why:
Walking to read IN THEORY is a great way to streamline the planning AND the delivery of targeted small group instruction students at all levels. If there are problems with WTR, it’s usually in the execution of the model, not in the theory of the model.
So it’s important to be HONEST, be FORTHRIGHT, and DEMAND COLLABORATION when you’re launching into or re-establishing a walk to read model in any grade level and school.
Here are a few examples of why walking to read can fail:
- There are trust issues within the grade level and teachers don’t want to "give up" their kids to "that teacher" – these are essentially trust issues amongst professionals
- There is an illusion of high differentiated instruction during small groups just because we have kids of like skill level grouped together
- There is an in-the-dark feeling about kids because there are not functions for collaboration and close monitoring between homeroom and WTR teachers
- There is lost time for instruction because traveling from one spot to another is poorly executed
- There are increased behavior problems because teachers have varied behavioral expectations
BUT DO NOT FEAR!!!
YOU CAN USE THE WALK TO READ MODEL SUCCESSFULLY!!!! I’VE SEEN IT WORK FOR THOSE WILLING TO PUT THE WORK IN!
Here’s how it CAN work:
SOLUTION 1: Discuss trust issues head-on – get real about concerns! If there is a worry that your teaching partner might not put in enough time for prepping killer lessons, then set up a time to plan together. If your teaching partners are too "lax" on their management of the kids, then suggest that you come up with common expectations across groups that you jointly teach the kids!
SOLUTION 2: Share weekly plans for kids – in other words: POST YOUR PLANS, PERUSE YOUR PLANS AND DISCUSS YOUR PLANS! If they look too much alike (and are not, therefore, differentiating instruction), then work together to suggest ways that you can change-up lessons and challenge kids more than they are currently challenged. Create a check-list together for each lesson so that you ensure that true differentiated instruction is really happening.
SOLUTION 3: Set bi-monthly data meetings where you get together FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF TALKING THROUGH THE WALK TO READ DATA and nothing else! Go student-by-student and discuss what’s going well, what’s a struggle, what growth the data is showing and then set targets for each group. This builds in camaraderie AND trust!
The cool thing is, the more you talk, the more you collaborate.
And the more you collaborate, the more you trust.
And the more you trust your teaching comrades, the more you focus on the kids.
And the more you focus on the kids, the more they learn.
And the more they learn…
Need I go on?