Jennifer Allen is a literacy specialist in grades 3-5 for the Waterville, Maine, school district, where she works as a reading coach and leads professional development programs for teachers in a wide range of formats. She is the author of Becoming a Literacy Leader and A Sense of Belonging (both available through Stenhouse Publishers), as well as three video series.
Jennifer Allen has been fascinated with helping boys write for years, ever since her own son insisted on writing on the same topic over and over again. She shares her five favorite strategies for boosting interest in writing among boys.
Jennifer Allen finds the use of a story map opens up revision possibilities for a young writer stuck in a drafting rut.
Jennifer Allen uses commercials to promote the importance of rereading to students while teaching theme.
Jennifer Allen’s new teacher group discusses what they learn from classroom observations in this video taped early in the fall.
In this video filmed in mid-January, Jennifer Allen observes new teacher Jessica, and explains how she struggles to redefine her role in the classroom.
Jennifer Allen visits a thriving cupcake store in Boston that doesn’t sell any cupcakes. It turns out to be the perfect example of “simplexity” – Michael Fullan’s term for maintaining focus on goals and a larger purpose. Jennifer writes about how simplexity applies to professional development planning for literacy leaders.
Jennifer Allen realizes that her biggest fear as a literacy coach is forgetting to keep students at the heart of our coaching conversations. With this in mind, she shares what keeps student learning as her primary focus.
Jennifer Allen explains the many uses of portable lightweight anchor charts in her work as a literacy coach.
In this installment of Book Matchmaker, Franki Sibberson provides a range of books for teaching character development in fiction for grades 3-5 students.
In this installment of Book Matchmaker, Franki Sibberson provides a range of books for teaching point of view for grades 3-5 students.
Jennifer Allen has developed some innovative support systems for veteran teachers. She shares her insights in this podcast.
Jennifer Allen shares a few strategies for building the reading community beyond individual classrooms in your school. Book swaps, a shared staff novel, and family literacy breakfasts all reinforce the most important aspect of reading – it should be pleasurable and engrossing, no matter the age of the learner.
Jennifer Allen considers how her study groups have changed over the past decade as she continues to balance district demands with teacher choice.
Jennifer Allen finds she only learns what new teachers really need when she builds a relationship and rapport with them.
Jennifer Allen details her professional development formats, and the crucial role feedback plays in their success.
Jennifer Allen reflects on her experiences as a teacher, and develops ways to help the veteran teachers she works with return to their “creation chambers.”
Laughter or struggles – the experiences we share are the ones that bind us together. Jennifer Allen mulls over how to foster more of those shared experiences for the colleagues she coaches.
Jennifer Allen considers ways to be more practical and playful in introducing mentor texts during study groups with colleagues.
Jennifer Allen provides some prompts for staff discussions about Response to Intervention to help you connect long-term goals and beliefs with short-term strategies.
Jennifer Allen and her colleagues knew test scores weren’t the only way of defining their students’ achievements and the value of their professional development program. “Read Our Walls” is an easy but powerful way to celebrate writing from the entire school community.
Jennifer Allen describes a protocol for analyzing student work in teacher study groups and staff meetings, and includes a template for discussing classroom artifacts.
Jennifer Allen reflects on why and how literacy leaders need to make their professional development offerings more relevant and rigorous for teachers.
"To Fart or Not to Fart?" was the question at the first meeting of Jennifer Allen's boys' literacy study group for teachers, and what followed was a rollicking discussion of writing, taste, and books that hook boys.
Jennifer Allen explains how she enlisted teachers to lead a day-long inservice.
Jennifer Allen runs her first marathon, and finds the good, bad, ugly, and ultimately inspiring experience is a great metaphor for professional development design that endures.
Jennifer Allen observes the scaffolds her daughter's gymnastics teacher uses and gradually abandons over time. These observations make her think about how she is gradually releasing new teachers from different kinds of support as they enter their second, third, and fourth years of teaching.
Preparing for a forced sick day with her daughter, Jennifer Allen is reminded that the culture of professional development in her school is something she can depend on.
With a few key elements in place, Brenda Power and Jennifer Allen explain how study groups can almost run themselves and get everyone involved.
Jennifer Allen presents her coaching model for varied and rich support of teachers.
Jennifer Allen writes about the power of being shadowed by a young teacher, Jeni, for a full day.
This whole-class share session in Lesley Fowler’s fifth-grade classroom is the culmination of a nonfiction writing unit. Over the course of the year, students have moved from complimenting their classmates during these share sessions to writing down specific aspects of the piece they enjoyed or had questions about during the reading.
In this video from a new teacher study group for grades 3-5 teachers, Jennifer Allen demonstrates how teachers can use assessment data to develop instructional plans for individual students and create curriculum maps for an entire class of students.
In this video of a teacher study group, Jennifer Allen leads a group of grades 3-5 teachers as they launch their monthly meeting in October.
In this four-minute video tour, Jennifer Allen describes how she arranges and displays materials in the “Literacy Room,” the space that has become invaluable in supporting teachers’ professional development in literacy instruction.
Jennifer Allen collaborates with a new teacher, Jessica, early in the fall to teach a lesson in Jessica’s 4th grade classroom.
Jennifer Allen maximizes resources as she plans for a monthly professional development group for new teachers.
Jennifer Allen realizes how much we miss if we wait till the start of the school year to begin mentoring colleagues. When she helps new teacher Jess deal with nightmares about the first day of school, she discovers some big themes they will be mulling together all year long.
Planning with the end in mind is essential for literacy leaders. Jennifer Allen takes us through her process for creating a focused and progressive year-long plan.
This template helps teachers focus their classroom observations.
Jennifer Allen’s years of experience with teacher study groups has led her to best practices that make it “safe and easy” for teachers to learn from each other.
What is really important for our time and energy? Jennifer Allen reflects on words of wisdom that keep her centered as a literacy coach.
Jennifer Allen makes connections between her new professional life as a literacy coach and her beginning as a classroom teacher.
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