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Learning Communities

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One of the funny things about parenting as an educator is that often, your children teach you a great deal about things you think you already know a few things about. Take, for instance, protocols. “We’re doing these things called modules in my English class,” my daughter Nina explained over dinner one autumn evening at the beginning of her eighth grade year. And I’ll admit, my stomach clenched. I wasn’t well acquainted with the New…

Ten years ago, I founded a wonderful little writing studio in my very own community. Every week, and for weeks at a time in the summer, I’ve worked with kids and teachers from all walks of life there. Our space has evolved in response to their ever-changing interests and needs, but one thing has always remained the same: Our studio is a place where we make writing. We’ve been fortunate to write in many different…

Over the last few years, some of the teachers that I support have begun assessing learning without interrupting it in order to test kids. Their commitment to documentation is leading to the development of far better interventions. That’s not why I’m blogging about it, though. It seems that steeping ourselves in this kind of learning isn’t merely increasing our expertise, it’s igniting our curiosities and re-energizing us. As we make our own learning transparent to students, our relationships…

Registration for the upcoming season is now open at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio, and while I often share the work of the kids in our community, I don’t often speak to what teachers do there. Why is that? Well, our teacher groups are kept intentionally small because the commitment teachers make to our program is HUGE, and the work that they do there is their own. Whenever I blog about Studio teachers, I do…

I am BEYOND EXCITED to be hosting this event with everyone at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio! For the last several years, our annual writing celebrations were inspired by the spirit and the structure of the unconference model. Writers of all ages shared their growing expertise by leading conversations and mini-sessions that featured their favorite strategies and resources. Some of my favorite Studio memories were made on these days. Now that we have our own…

There are so many implications for educators who work at all levels of the system here. Hatch inspired me as much as he pushed my thinking. Great weekend read! Some of my highlights: “We must make, create, and express ourselves to feelw hole. There is something unique about making physical things. These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our soul.” p.1 “You must have access to the right…

Read anything awesome over spring break? I did. My favorite read was actually a reread, and I have a feeling I’ll be referencing it deep into the future. Sunni Brown, Dave Gray, and James Macanufo wrote Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule-Breakers, and Changemakers. If you’re responsible for helping people generate ideas and solutions in any capacity, you will love this book. You might also love the app, which I spent this morning test driving as well.…

By day, I’m a consultant in school districts throughout Western New York. Summers, weekends, and evenings often find me writing and learning beside kids and teachers at the WNY Young Writer’s Studio though. I founded Studio five years ago, and we’re expanding our fellowship program, workshops for kids, and professional development offerings. Take a peek at what we’re up to this summer and join us! 

When I first began learning how groups of teachers might use data to empower practice and serve kids better, most of the models I studied felt very linear and seemed to be driven by trends in standardized assessment data. A decade ago, I used to spend quite a bit of time helping teachers make meaning from this kind of data, and then we would design common formative assessments that were much like the tests…

Wellsville Middle and High School English teachers began inquiry work within collegial learning circles three years ago. What they accomplished for writers that year and what they’ve continued to accomplish as a result of their collegiality is nothing short of inspiring. These inquiry groups grew out of the staff’s desire to learn with and from one another. Like any staff, some have been more invested in this work than others, and like any investment, those…