by Donessa Moore and Gabrielle Bryant
Key message #3: We spread/grow work across schools/district.
When we were chosen to be on a Cornerstone School Review team, we had no idea what to expect. We weren’t even sure we were qualified to participate! We thought, “What could we tell Dawson Elementary when we ourselves are a first-year Cornerstone School?” By the end of the week, we were so glad we were chosen! We had a great time, learned a lot, and met some wonderful people. On the last day of the review after we said our goodbyes (through lots of tears) and had some lunch, we had some time to reflect.
As Donessa and I sat at the Burger King, we started talking about our experience and how much we enjoyed it. We talked about all the wonderful things we had seen at Dawson and how they were already doing so many great Cornerstone things that should be celebrated. We talked about the review process that we had gone through and how fantastic our lead reviewer, Sara, was. As we talked more about the actual review process, we had an epiphany! Donessa said, “The whole thing was like a giant Cornerstone lesson!”
We realized that the setup of the review process was just like the lesson plan format that Cornerstone encourages. In the beginning we “crafted” when we were introduced to the concepts and goals of the review. We were given graphic organizers to record our thinking and Sara modeled for us how they were to be completed. We went over the “WILF” each day for what we should do during our “composing meaning” time. Sara put our schedule on the board every day and told us what she was looking for us to have done by lunchtime or the end of the day. After we observed classrooms, we came back, got into groups and “turned and talked” about what we had seen and done during our composing meaning. If we were confused or had questions, Sara “pulled and invitational group”, modeled and clarified what was to be done. At the end of each day we “reflected” as a whole group, charted our findings on a large chart tablet and had lots of discussion about our thinking. Finally, we “wrote” about everything we had done and put it together in a report that we presented to Dawson. This was not a “one-day lesson,” but a week long unit!
We were so excited that we had “made the connection” about what we do as adults and how this is exactly what we are trying to teach the children to do! This is the purpose of Cornerstone Literacy: to teach children to think, read, and write critically, as adults do! The Cornerstone School Review process was an invaluable experience for us and we were so appreciative of being a part of it. Thanks so much to Sara Schwabacher, who made the experience that much richer. If you get an opportunity to be a part of a school review, don’t be afraid, jump in with both feet!!