Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Link: Teaching Reading: K-2

Valerie Kostandos's First-Grade Class

The Teacher and the Class


Promoting Readers As Leaders

Video Summary

The Teacher and the Class

Analyzing the Video

Making Connections

Selected Resources

Ms. Kostandos talking to a student.

For Valerie Kostandos, a first-grade teacher at the Decius Beebe School in Melrose, Massachusetts, a good teacher knows when to teach and when not to teach. In her student-centered classroom, stepping back and allowing her students to lead the class -- and their own learning -- is essential to fostering independence, self-awareness, and good reading and writing skills.

Day at a Glance*




Morning Routines (Jobs, One-on-One Assessment)


Daily Schedule


Shared Reading


Independent Reading/Guided Reading


Book Discussion


Word Study Activities




Shared Writing


Independent Writing


Guided Reading in Groups


Independent Reading


Afternoon Meeting (Reflecting on the Day)

* In the video you see excerpts from Ms. Kostandos's class on November 5 and 6. On a typical day, other content areas are also included in the schedule.

Ms. Kostandos believes that the goals and expectations of classroom activities and lessons should be made clear to students. "I think it's important that kids have a purpose to what they're learning -- a reason why they're learning it. We talk about that a lot: 'why are we spending time on this?'" Explicit teaching, according to Ms. Kostandos, helps students to reflect on their own learning process, and to develop good judgment about when they can work on their own and when they need help.

Trained as a reading specialist, Ms. Kostandos says she tries to keep up with the latest techniques in teaching literacy. "It's important as a teacher to pick and choose what feels really right -- because there is so much out there." She draws on the work of Irene Gaskins and Patricia Cunningham for her explicit phonics instruction and Marie Clay for her assessment of students. She is also influenced by First Steps, the literacy program adopted by her district, which stresses a release of responsibility to students. She is the school's First Steps tutor.

Next > Analyzing the Video: Before Viewing

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