Monday, September 28, 2015

Staff Meeting with a Twist

Our principal has requested two staff meetings a month.  The first staff meeting usually revolves around housekeeping and general information.  The second staff meeting revolves around our implementation of Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Writing.

This is the first time in a long time that our staff has been involved in this type of professional development.  The reading team built this session around our first session that we held during common planning time.  It was a bit tricky, as we had all 4K-5 staff involved.

The session began by asking the teachers to reflect and discuss with their teams things they had tried in their classroom based on our last meeting.  It is important for teachers to understand that there is going to be follow-through with the learning and that there are literacy coaches there to support them. When professional development merely describes a skill to teachers, only 10 percent can transfer it to their practice; however, when teachers are coached through the awkward phase of implementation, 95 percent can transfer the skill (Bush, 1984; Truesdale, 2003) - See more at:  The literacy coaches circled around the groups and listened in.  I took notes on key points that the grade levels I work with brought forth.

Then we watched a mini-lesson.  It is crucial for the staff to continue to see what best practices in the area of literacy looks and sounds like.  The video was chosen due to it's wide range of ages it could correspond to and also due to it's area of focus on personal narratives, which every grade level has been immersed in since the beginning of the year.

Link to Video:

After the video, teams were again encouraged to discuss what they noticed, what they further need, and what they are going to try.  Exit slips were also turned in.  These were given to each table to synthesize their learning.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Workshop Model

The literacy team held our first coaching meetings with our grade level teams today.  We were all a little nervous about how it would go.  I had to remind myself that I looked forward to my literacy coach meeting with my team when I was a classroom teacher, as I always walked away with some new insight.  I also had to remind myself that in-house professional development is meaningful to teachers.  The following link has some great research to support this:  Some main points were that teachers can learn, but struggle with the implementation; professional development should occur over time and be ongoing; and professional development is best when it is offered in the context of the teacher's content.

Our team decided that the workshop model would be our first topic for the meetings, and from there the topics would be driven by the teams.

I started by using an Affinity Diagram with  my teachers.  I needed to know their background knowledge on the workshop model and I thought it was important for them to also hear from each other.  I had them write a word or a phrase on post-its that came to mind when they heard the phrase "Workshop Model."   From here, they put their post-its up on chart paper and started to look for patterns.  They discussed how certain post-its went together and why and then determined a word to categorize the post-its.  Here is what one of my teams came up with...

Their initial categories were: mini-lesson, work time, differentiation, summary/closure.

From here we watched the fabulous Mr. Minor demonstrate a mini-lesson on creating setting for fantasy writing (  The teachers wrote down what they noticed about the lesson and then we shared out.  There are some misconceptions that I will need to clear up in one-on-one situations, but overall I was pleased with how the discussion went.

Lastly, we discussed the critical elements of the workshop model, and I stressed that this can happen in any content.  
  • tight focused mini-lesson, with direct modeling, "This is my turn to show you"
  • guided practice
  • independent work time (Daily 5, guided reading, conferencing, strategy focus groups, literature discussion groups, etc)
  • Share time (purposes: share what you did during independent practice, how did we manage, teaching/pushing them even further)
We finished the meeting by sharing what each teacher planned to do with the knowledge gained and what our plan would be for next time.