Category

Professional Development

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October found me in classrooms in and around New York State, facilitating lesson studies for writing teachers at the elementary and middle levels. This is some of the most rewarding work that I do, because the learning that happens is the result of studying kids and teachers at work together. Everyone is a learner in the context of lesson study, and this makes a difference. Whenever I lead lesson studies, my intention is to design…

“I develop theories based on lived experiences, not existing theories.” Dr. Brene Brown Traditional researchers and documentarians deepen their learning by exploring the theories shared by the giants who came before them. They study professional literature, seeking best practices that they might test in order to meet their students’ needs. Then, they confirm or deny their viability. Often, the results are anything but unexpected. Grounded theory is different.  When teachers position themselves as grounded…

My interest in documentation began well over a decade ago, at the height of the standardized testing mess that so many teachers were talking about and in response to my own failures as a teacher of writing. At the time, numbers seemed to mean everything, and many of the people that I respected most in the field were suggesting that it didn’t have to be that way. I remember when Jenn first asked the question,…

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…

Two weeks ago, Laurie Schultz invited me to coach in her kindergarten writing workshop at John T. Waugh Elementary School in Lake Shore. I’m always grateful to work with Laurie. Her energy is incredible, and she sustains her compassion for even the most challenging kids in her care. She also maintains a high bar for her students, regardless of any label that’s been imposed on them. My Rationale:  When we met to discuss the mini-unit…

This month, I’ll be celebrating the second birthday of Make Writing, the little book that could. When I wrote it, I never imagined that I would get to meet and learn from so many of you who I’ve come to call my colleagues and friends over the last two years. This has been a rewarding journey, and each bend in the road has surfaced new and important questions about making and writing and the relationship…

You know that kid: The one who walks wearily into the room, throwing himself into a seat and casting his eyes at the clock, the window, and the door. He’s counting the minutes until your class is over. He’s counting on you to just leave him alone. And when you don’t, he makes you pay for it. You pay for it in sideways glances, rolling eyes, and snickers. You pay for it in thirty requests…

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…

Recently, several colleagues asked me to begin a professional writing support group. If you are eager to begin blogging, publishing articles, or drafting a manuscript, you are welcome to join us. If you have any of these things in the works and are in need of good company, you are welcome to join us. And if you can’t attend face to face but would still like to be a part of things, you may still plan to join…

Nearly ten years into my career as an independent education consultant, I can say with confidence that a large portion of my time has been devoted to supporting teachers with assessment design. If you’ve walked a similar path, then you know how hard and humbling this work is. Perhaps, like me, you stand on the shoulders of assessment giants like Douglas Reeves, Rick Stiggins, Dylan Wiliam, Susan Brookhart, or James Popham. Perhaps you still define yourself as…