“Conversation is the laboratory and workshop of the student.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are several ways I can offer support to educators who are pursuing long-term professional learning experiences regarding teaching with nonfiction.
Series of lab dates across the school year
On 2-4 dates during the school year, I visit and engage teachers in a full day of work that includes:
• Demonstration of the first half of a lesson in a classroom with students
• Co-teaching by participants of the second half of the lesson
(with one or two students from the whole class)
• Analysis of data and student work from participants’ classrooms
• Planning transformative lesson plans with nonfiction based on the
identified strengths and needs of students during the data analysis
• Time to reflect, ask questions, and set goals
Prior to the lab date, I meet (Skype) with the classroom teacher who has volunteered to share her class with us on the lab date. I collect assessment data and student work to analyze and develop a lesson based on the students’ needs that is also aligned with the Common Core standards. At the beginning of the lab day – before the demonstration lesson, I share my analysis of the data gathered, the first half of the lesson I’ve planned and then the participants have time to prepare for co-teaching the second half of the lesson. During the second half of the day, I guide teachers as they unpack the data they have collected on their students and plan an assessment-driven lesson.
Groups of teachers have a conversation with me via Skype. Participants can send PDFs of student work to me in advance for analysis and I can share my analysis during the conversation. Questions can also be sent in advance or we can just dialogue on the spot and pursue answers together.
Workshop that includes analysis of student data
A workshop on teaching with nonfiction is developed to meet the needs of your group. This can include sending me examples of student work in advance so that I can analyze and embed as part of the more formal part of the presentation. Then there can also be time during the workshop for me to coach teachers as they analyze their own students’ written artifacts and plan instruction – based on the key ideas I share during the presentation part of the day. To keep the conversation going, additional workshops or conversations by Skype can be scheduled.
Curriculum evaluation and development
This is an opportunity for teachers engaged in developing units of study that integrate teaching with nonfiction to receive external feedback. My work in this area is driven by my study of Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design. I start by having a conversation with the leaders of this work regarding what has been accomplished so far. Then I analyze the curriculum documents and propose a plan for sharing feedback as well as suggestions for professional development that will help the educators move forward in their work.
Sunday Cummins, PhD