Suzy Kaback

Suzy Kaback is an associate professor of literacy education at St. Catherine University in Minnesota.

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Find Friends

Suzy Kaback shares how we can translate the values we hold dear into action, even when our social and professional norms are in upheaval.

Forces of Nature

Literacy can be seen as a “curricular bully” by science and math teachers, taking over the curriculum and many professional development sessions. Suzy Kaback faces that challenge when she adds poetry writing and visual arts to a session for STEM educators.

Starting with Consensus

Suzy Kaback finds that consensus mapping is a powerful tool for leading teachers through any change process.

Secret Reader

Suzy Kaback marvels at a very young learner who is a “secret reader,” and this leads her to reassess the value of constantly celebrating new skills in school communities.

Identity and Coaching

Suzy Kaback considers how the way we talk about ourselves shapes our identity in subtle ways, and what this might mean for coaching teachers.

Readers’ Guides: Helping Students Think About Informational Text

Suzy Kaback finds the task of creating readers’ guides helps students in the intermediate grades think about evidence in texts in more sophisticated ways.

Shoulders-Down Spaces

Suzy Kaback feels rising unease as a tourist in unfamiliar neighborhoods. The experience provokes empathy for students who find classrooms strange or uncomfortable.

Ohana Means “Family”

Suzy Kaback is startled to see a picture of her deceased father on the wall when she visits her daughter’s seventh-grade classroom. It’s the start of learning about the power of ohana in schools.

My World Maps

Creating “world” maps is a great way to explore the territories beyond school that matter most to everyone in your classroom. Suzy Kaback explains how to create them with students early in the year as a way to get to know them as learners and community members.

Puppy Chow

How do you know an assignment is authentic and worthy of your students' time? Suzy Kaback explains why you need to try it out yourself first.

The Coconut Wireless

Suzy Kaback finds that a novel take on community communication changes her outlook on how to reach teachers through informal networks.

The Writing Workout

Suzy Kaback meets with a group of teachers to talk through struggles in the writing workshops. Using a fitness analogy, they come up with strategies to try immediately in their classrooms.

You Say Tornado . . .

Suzy Kaback shares the power of taking time to honor results late in the school year with teachers in professional development settings.

Recipes and Lesson Plans: Process and Practice

Suzy Kaback is inspired by chefs testing recipes to develop a lesson analysis activity. She shares an example of how it works,  encouraging honesty and risk-taking among new teachers.

Where the Magic Happens

Suzy Kaback considers her own history as a learner and the needs of her teenage daughter as she mulls over the best ways to help the new teachers she leads take risks in their teaching.

The Professional Promise of Podcasts

Suzy Kaback discovers podcasts are invaluable for building her knowledge of social justice. She provides links to many of her favorite online sources to explore.

Frog and Toad and Tina and Maya: A Precocious Kindergarten Reading Group

Suzy Kaback ponders the precociousness of two kindergarten readers.

A Case of the Perennial Annuals

Suzy Kaback remembers saying goodbye to her first group of students as a young teacher.

The Pause That Refreshes: Write When the Conversation Gets Hot

When’s the best time for some spontaneous opinion writing? Suzy Kaback argues it’s when class conversations get hot.

Teaching the Genes

Suzy Kaback rethinks the concept of "managed choice" in writing workshops.

Laundry Line Luxuries

Suzy Kaback writes about the pleasures of slowing down and being inefficient sometimes in teaching and relationships.

Fresh Books and Age-old Skills

Suzy Kaback provides a booklist of newer texts that can be used to teach multiple reading strategies.

Photovoice: Exploring Content Literacy with Images

As Suzy Kaback explores the question “How does your expertise function?” she explains the power of Photovoice and details its use in K-12 classrooms.

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.

Conversation Turns: Recordkeeping and Analysis Tool

Suzy Kaback provides a template for helping students note and reflect upon their talk.

The Draw-a-Reader Test: Informal Assessment Supporting Teacher Inquiry

The Draw-a-Reader test from Suzy Kaback is a fun way to get to know the readers of any age that also provides insight into their background knowledge and personal reading histories.

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.

Writing Strengths Anchor Chart

Suzy Kaback's anchor chart activity builds a sense of community and peer editing connections in her middle school classroom.

The Anticipation Guide: A Tool for Study Group Leaders

Suzy Kaback finds the Anticipation Guide is the “little black dress” of study group and staff development leaders, taking any literacy leader seamlessly from the classroom to PLCs and faculty meetings.

The “All About Us” Board: Linking Literacy and Community Building All Year Long

Suzy Kaback has terrific tips for an ever-evolving “All About Us” bulletin board to use from the first day of school to the last.

Important Book, Important Notes: Guiding Young Students Through Notetaking

Suzy Kaback catches a young learner near and dear to her in the process of plagiarizing. She uses the experience to develop a template to help students and colleagues with notetaking.

Overcorrecting

“Did I do anything right?” Suzy Kaback receives a note from a gifted teacher that gives her pause. Suzy wonders if avoiding praise is damaging her relationships with teachers. She decides to give more feedback for continuation, which is praise’s smarter cousin for coaches.

The Sharpening Stone

Summer is rushing along. Are you feeling restored or refreshed yet for the new year? Suzy Kaback writes about the power of the sharpening stone.

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