— Phyllis Sutton (@PhyllisASutton) July 28, 2016
As a curriculum coordinator, I plan lots of professional development for teachers. But I have to admit, until I participated in the #cyberPD chat last week, and saw those tweets above, most of the professional development that I have coordinated or presented lately has been in the “sit and get” style. Those tweets were a wake up call to me to help me remember that there isn’t only one way to get information. I needed to offer teachers something better – something that would resonate with them and be useful to them.
If you have read any of the posts I have published lately, you know that I am a BIG fan of Kate and Maggie Roberts’ DIY Literacy book. So when I was recently told that I would need to present on writing to intermediate teachers, I knew exactly what I should do – a make-it, take-it, DIY Literacy-palooza! For all of you literacy coaches or curriculum people out there, I have included the presentation and a summary of our PD below.
This session was about 1 ½ hours and I had about 10 teachers, grades 3-5. Each teacher received Sketchbooks, post-its and markers as they came in.
We started off the session by brainstorming the things that we all know our kids would struggle with in writing-issues that come up every year. We did this so we could focus the tools we create on those topics. Teachers wrote the skills they knew they would need to focus on post-it notes and we organized them by topic. Major topics that came up were structure, endings, adding details, stamina in reading and spelling and conventions.
We then went started talking about the first tool, the Demonstration Notebooks from the DIY Literacy book. We watched a short video from Kate and Maggie’s blog, Indent, and walked through the steps of how to create a Demonstration notebook page. The teachers worked together to create their own notebook pages on conventions – a topic taken from the post-it notes that we discussed in the beginning. Some of them then went on to create a page for organization of writing. Teachers worked together, talked together and shared what they created.
After creating a few demonstration pages, we learned about and created some micro-progressions. (See slideshow below for more information on those tools) Together, we created a micro-progression on writing better endings. We used the Writing Pathways book, created by the staff at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, to help us. I forgot to take a picture of it, but here is what the teachers came up with:
We ended the session by going over some strategies on elaboration from Rozlyn Linder’s Big Book of Details. We talked about different ways we could share those strategies with students – demonstration notebook page, anchor chart, etc. We had just enough time to quickly go through 5 strategies from this book. If I had to do this session again, I think I would have saved the elaboration strategies for another time. An hour and a half isn’t long enough for all we wanted to cover and we really didn’t do the strategies in this book justice! And because of the time crunch, I reverted back to the sit and get method for this part, which is what I was trying to avoid!
What I have learned from this experience is to remember that there are other ways to engage teachers in Professional Development. I need to keep thinking about how I could make PD more meaningful to our staff. Sit and get isn’t the only, or the best, way! My goal this year is to continue to work on this.
Please let me know in the comment section below how you structure PD in your District. What do you find most helpful? What successful sessions have you organized/attended? I would love to learn from you and your staff!
Here is a copy of the slideshow we used.