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Returning to Our Creation Chambers: Supporting Experienced Teachers

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.”

Using Mentor Texts in Study Groups: Play and Practice

Jennifer Allen considers ways to be more practical and playful in introducing mentor texts during study groups with colleagues.

Creating Data Teams

Literacy leaders are spending more and more time organizing, compiling, and storing assessment data, often leaving little time to analyze the findings with teachers.  Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the value of enlisting tech support to assist with the data load.

“What I Know Now” Workshop Activity

This icebreaker from Cindy Hatt is a terrific exercise for a staff or grade-level team meeting to bring together teachers and literacy specialists this time of year.  It combines individual reflection with whole-group brainstorming and goal setting.

Triangulating: The Importance of Multiple Data Points When Assessing Students

No data point for any child stands alone.  Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan write about the importance of triangulating data when looking at student assessments, and in the process affirm the value of classroom observations.

Mentoring from the Real to the Ideal: Mental Images of Teaching

We know the power of mental images as a strategy for helping readers comprehend difficult text.  Suzy Kaback uses a similar technique to help novice teachers envision success.  Thisl is an activity you might want to try with a new teacher group.

Expectations for Grade-Level Team Meetings

Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan share their top tips for improving team meetings.

Better Discussions in Study Groups

Cindy Hatt has suggestions for getting the most out of book studies with colleagues, with activities and prompts that can help you move from ideas to practice in classrooms.

Moving from Data to Practice

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan give advice for how to create databases and graphic analyses of assessment information that teachers can readily access and use.

More Teaching Metaphors

Ruth Shagoury considers her struggles with "beginner's mind" in yoga and mountain biking, and what they can both teach her about students who are struggling with any new learning.

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About . . .?

Ruth Shagoury and Melanie Quinn asked their colleagues to share the “most beautiful thing” about the puzzling student each of them is looking at closely in their study group. This is a great activity you’re looking for a quick and easy icebreaker to spark some positive energy in your next study group or staff meeting, and remind everyone of the joys of our profession.

Reflecting on Student Work in Staff Meetings (TEMPLATE)

Jennifer Allen describes a protocol for analyzing student work in teacher study groups and staff meetings, and includes a template for discussing classroom artifacts.

From Congeniality to Collegiality: Protocols for Meetings and Observations

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan suggest a few tested and successful protocols for meetings and study groups that foster more thoughtful conversations.

“I Used to . . . Now I”

Looking for a thoughtful and feel-good icebreaker for a staff meeting or study group? Ruth Shagoury uses the “I Used to…Now I” prompt to get colleagues thinking and talking about changes in their literacy instruction over the years, as well as where they might go next in their teaching.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Recommending Yourself

Suzy Kaback asks her students to write letters of recommendations for themselves, and finds the activity ripples across the school mentoring community. This exercise is a terrific catalyst for creating personal improvement plans.

A Reason to Learn

Jennifer Allen reflects on why and how literacy leaders need to make their professional development offerings more relevant and rigorous for teachers.

From “Data Drowning” to “Data Wise”: What Are We Doing Now?

Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan  provide an activity for staff meetings designed to help schools sort through the purpose and value of current assessments.

Fostering More Curricular Collaboration in Teams: The Meeting Notes Form (TEMPLATE)

Katie Doherty faces daunting challenges as a grade-level team leader in her middle school. A simple notetaking form works wonders in elevating the conversations and collaboration.

Learning with Intensity: A Study Group Discussion Prompt

"Learning with Intensity" is a study group activity which takes participants back to a time when they became passionately involved with learning. Ruth Shagoury shares the structure of the activity and insights from one group who gave it a test drive.

To Fart or Not to Fart? Reflections on Boy Writers

"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.

Creating Structures to Sustain Our Work

Jennifer Allen explains how she enlisted teachers to lead a day-long inservice.

Collecting Literacy Stories Icebreaker (PRINT DOWNLOAD)

If you want a terrific activity to nudge colleagues to share more of their successes and failures, you might want to download Cindy Hatt’s question templates and explanation of the collecting stories activity. It’s also a fun strategy for building listening skills and community among teachers and coaches

Team Sharing of Writing Curriculum Innovations (TEMPLATE)

Ruth Shagoury finds some of the best learning in her study groups comes when participants share the new things they are trying in their classrooms. She develops a nifty one-page notetaking form to help everyone keep track of ideas they want to test out with students.

Forming Teams to Help Struggling Readers:A Pilot Project (TEMPLATES)

Andrea Smith shares observation strategies used within a teaching team.    The article includes templates developed by the group.

Connecting Language and Hope: A Study Group Activity

The teaching profession needs an abundance of hope. In this creative study group activity, Andie Cunningham helps young teachers connect language and hope through art.

Literacy Chats with Teachers: Routines and Guidelines

Principal Karen Szymusiak explains the format and goals of literacy chats at her school, and provides a video example of a grades 3-5 chat.

January New Teacher Group Update: When Life Happens

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.

How Study Groups Are Like Self-Cleaning Ovens

With a few key elements in place, Brenda Power and Jennifer Allen explain how study groups can almost run themselves and get everyone involved.

Two or Three Things I Know for Sure: A Teacher Workshop Activity

"Two or Three Things I Know for Sure" is a terrific short workshop activity for study groups or faculty meetings, and it also can be used in partnership discussions with mentors, literacy coaches, and colleagues. The activity gets everyone to explore their bedrock beliefs about teaching – as well as what it takes to change them.

Books That Touch the Heart

Is it ever alright for a teacher to cry when reading aloud?  Shari Frost and her colleagues select their favorite tearjerker read alouds, and what they’ve learned from sharing them with students.

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