Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Meaning in Literature Grades 6-8
Conversations in Literature — Workshop

About Making Meaning in Literature: A Workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-8

Individual Workshop Descriptions

1. Introducing our Literary Community
2. Encouraging Discussion
3. Going Further in Discussion
4. Diversity in Texts
5. Student Diversity
6. Literature, Art, and Other Disciplines
7. Assessment
8. Planning and Professional Development
9. Starting in September...

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Planning and Professional Development


Key Points

Learning Objectives

Background Reading

Homework Assignment

Classroom Connection
Ongoing Activity

Additional Reading


"Taking classes... and... [doing] professional reading really got me on track... And I've had mentors through all my professional life. I continue to have them... because I don't think we ever stop evolving. Professionally, I don't think you can."
Flora Tyler
6th Grade Teacher, Picacho Middle School
Las Cruces, New Mexico

A common thread among effective teachers is their spirit of inquiry. Effective teachers center their professional lives around the generation of questions and a search for solutions. They wonder about how their students learn and about what they might do to help them learn better. They wonder about their students-who they are as members of cultural communities and who they are as individuals. They are interested in new developments in their subject matter. They consider new understandings about thinking and teaching and learning, and wonder how they might be applicable to their classrooms. Posing questions and seeking answers are foundational aspects of their professional lives.

Some of this learning is informal. Effective teachers become ethnographers in their classrooms, watching students carefully to determine how they learn, what difficulties they encounter, and what kinds of instruction help them overcome those difficulties. They talk to people — parents, community members, and other teachers. They read professional books and subscribe to professional publications.

Effective teachers also engage in more formal modes of professional development. They join organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of English or the International Reading Association, and attend the local and national conferences supported by those organizations. They may take classes at the local university to pursue advanced degrees or simply to update their understandings in areas that interest them. Or they may participate in teacher development workshops offered by their schools or by organizations such as the National Writing Project.

Thoughtful planning is a second component in the lives of effective teachers. While they may be pleased to discover an individual lesson or experience that their students respond to, they understand that even the best lessons are effective only insofar as they form part of an integral plan for instruction over the long term. From the earliest stages in their planning, these teachers consider what their students need to know and what they need to know how to do by the end of the school year, and they develop plans that weave together flexible instructional designs targeting those goals. Throughout the year they revisit their plans, adjusting them to meet developing student needs.

In this program, you will hear teachers talking about the importance of professional development in their lives and about the ways they conceptualize their planning. As you listen, think about your own professional life. What kinds of professional development are most useful to you? Do you allow yourself enough time for the development you would like to experience? Could you plan your instruction in ways that would be more effective for you and your students?

For a complete guide to the workshop session activities, download and print our Support Materials.



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