Teacher study groups are as diverse as the teachers who participate in them. They can be an informal, low-key coffee klatch designed to relieve the daily stress of teaching. They can be highly structured inquiry groups, with detailed expectations for participants. Most study groups are likely somewhere between these two extremes, with colleagues getting together regularly to discuss books, view videos, and support each other as they test out new literacy instruction strategies in their classrooms. We include a few examples of study groups in the Choice Literacy library. If you regularly lead these groups, you'll want a membership that includes the Leaders Lounge. Here is where you will find advice from study group leaders who coordinate book groups, design workshop formats for groups, and develop structures for helping colleagues transfer the learning in study groups to the learning in their classrooms.
Jennifer Allen considers ways to be more practical and playful in introducing mentor texts during study groups with colleagues.
Literacy leaders are spending more and more time organizing, compiling, and storing assessment data, often leaving little time to analyze the findings with teachers.Â Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan explain the value of enlisting tech support to assist with the data load.
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.
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.
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.
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan share their top tips for improving team meetings.
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.
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.
Jennifer Allen describes a protocol for analyzing student work in teacher study groups and staff meetings, and includes a template for discussing classroom artifacts.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan suggest a few tested and successful protocols for meetings and study groups that foster more thoughtful conversations.
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.
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.
Jennifer Allen reflects on why and how literacy leaders need to make their professional development offerings more relevant and rigorous for teachers.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan provide an activity for staff meetings designed to help schools sort through the purpose and value of current assessments.
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.
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.
"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.
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
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.
Andrea Smith shares observation strategies used within a teaching team. The article includes templates developed by the group.
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.
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" 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.
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.
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.
"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.
Is it ever alright for a teacher to cry when reading aloud?Â Shari Frost and her colleagues select their favorite tearjerker read alouds, and what they’ve learned from sharing them with students.
Ruth Shagoury’s collecting stories icebreaker is a fun yet thoughtful activity for opening a meeting or all-day professional development event with energy and reflection.Â It gets everyone moving around the room, talking with colleagues, and best of all, focused on students and curriculum.
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