Our Bright Spot this month comes from Narolin Reyes, teacher at School 13 in Yonkers Public Schools.

What were students able to achieve?

Ms. Reyes saw her students improve accuracy on reading comprehension tasks in class, and improve reading scores on the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment of reading.

What practices or systems made this possible?

Ms. Reyes used the simple strategy of providing students with step-by-step checklists for complex tasks.  For instance, when Ms. Reyes wanted her students to engage in close reading of a text, she not only taught them what this meant, but she also provided them with a checklist that they could use independently until they had memorized the required steps.  She collaborated with the Speech Teacher in developing and teaching students to use the checklists repetitively until they became independent.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

We know that adults can more easily and accurately perform complex tasks, from airplane pre-checks to neurosurgery procedures, when they have written guides that walk them through the key steps in the procedure.  Why not provide students with the same support when they are learning complex new skills?  If you are not convinced, check out The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by neurosurgeon Atul Gawande.