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  • Sarah Fiedeldey, Heather Frank, & Pam Koutrakos

Modeling From Afar: Nurturing Independence When We Aren’t Together

When the world is complicated, we are reminded to keep things simple. “One slide teaching” (that includes what matters) can help us streamline and simplify. One slide is all that is need to prepare for clear and concise modeling. This explicit modeling provides vision and prepares students to more confidently give new and tricky work a go. Stated even more simply:

IF we want students to feel confident as they independently try out work text to text… piece to piece, day to day,

THEN we can explicitly model transferable strategies that students can use during low-stakes practice time. And we can use one slide (or chart, or Doc…) to help us do just this. Here’s how it could go:

PREPARATION: Look to students. Notice what’s in place and going well. Consider a few possibilities for what could come next. Jot that down. Then look at the unit plan. Merge student goals with curricular goals. List a few strategies that align with that goal.


Name it: Name the strategy as a teaching point. We like to use the WHO SKILL BY STRATEGY model.

  • WHO: readers, writers, word explorers, mathematicians, etc.

  • SKILL: a skill related to the identified instructional goal

  • STRATEGY: one way to work on that skill

Prep the How: Name the steps (often about 3) that could be used when trying that strategy.

  • STEP 1: Get started

  • STEP 2: Prepare to try

  • STEP 3: Do it

Find Your Where: Identify a spot in a mentor text where you can try that strategy.

  • Published texts always work. No “special” text needed.

  • Teacher-written texts are another authentic option.

  • Student-written work (names removed, permission provided) provides another possibility for compelling instruction.

Helpful Hint: After creating each slide, use the accompanying notes section to create an instructional script or recipe for yourself. This helps you stick to the teaching point and keep the instruction clear and explicit for students. You might plan with these four parts in mind: Why, Teach, Model, Practice.

Here are a couple of mentor texts of how this could look on one slide:

Example of a teaching slide from an upper-elementary reading unit

Example of a teaching slide from a primary how-to writing unit

Streamlined one-slide teaching has a big impact. Here is a possible template you might find useful. Remember that this process can be used for whole-class and small-group learning.

BONUS TIP: Collaborate on this playful work with your grade-level team. Bringing together your minds and energy lightens the planning load, welcomes in different perspectives and voices, and frees up time to focus on connecting with and providing feedback to students.


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