Teaching Teachers to Write
Facilitators: Mary Boyer, Shirley Hansen,
and Jackie Hurst
Thank you all for agreeing to facilitate a conversation on developing
a staff development plan for writing. As you are aware that due to budget
cuts in the district, we have to be creative as teachers and administrators
to get more innovative in how we can improve our students scores and achievement
in the area of writing. Thus, instead of hiring a private consultant to
provide additional assistance in this arena we are looking to you, the
teachers, to help us in this undertaking.
Prior to the meeting:
1. Reserve room for meeting with appropriate
seating, tables and space.
2. Send out memo to all teachers regarding the meeting,
include time, date, etc.
3. Line up refreshments
4. Work on icebreaker and other handouts for the session.
Divide the responsibilities of the facilitation with your partner. Make
sure each one is aware what the other is responsible.
5. Make sure there will be a flip chart, blackboard,
whiteboard with markers, overhead with pens, etc. in room for session.
this afternoon session:
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1:00 pm Introductions
1:15 pm Icebreaker
1:45 pm Discussion of objectives and goals
2:15 pm Elements of a good staff development plan
3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm Discuss of the writing standards: identify priorities
3:45 pm Develop the Roadmap: What topics should be covered which semester
4:15 pm Determine assignments and review expectations
4:45 pm Schedule next meeting
5:00 pm Adjournment
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Icebreakers provide an excellent opportunity to set the tone of the
meeting and get participants thinking and learning in a non-threatening
manner. The icebreaker for this session is one that may be used in a
group where the participants know each other, as this takes place at
a school site where teachers all work together..
Icebreaker: The Hat Trick
Have each participant write his or her name on a small piece of paper.
Collect all the names in a hat and have each participant pick a name
out of the hat. Have each participant stand behind the person whose
name he or she drew and interview that person using the following questions
and the Icebreaker
A hidden talent of the person
The person’s expectations for the session
The person’s secret vice
Take 5 minutes and debrief as a group, or share, what each person found
out about their partner. Save the Icebreaker handout and notes for the
writing lesson at the next Staff Development day. You may decide to
have the presenter pick up all the sheets to have them ready for the
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Goals for Staff Development
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Planning an effective staff development takes time and effort. To that
end we will investigate research based models to help us make the most
of our planning. As we look at the elements for effective staff development
one might want to group them into categories such as:
"The Learning Environment"
How does where an activity takes place and the number of participants
impact the presentation and interaction of the participants?
Article from the Illinois
Staff Development Council.
Low threat, psychologically safe, openness to share problems and
- Physical facility
Room ambiance, adequate seating, lighting, temperature should all
be taken into account
- Time of day
Staff development at the end of the work day is the least effective.
Least effective when scheduled against work days, conferences, and
- "Involvement in planning" When everyone has a
stake in the staff development, there is more buy-in for the process.
- Time for planning
Teachers need time out of the classroom to plan
A staff should come to consensus as to what it wants to pursue.
- Involvement of the principals
Administrative leadership should be prominent at staff activities
District administrative support should be evident. This could
be shown through release time, extra assignment compensation,
hours for salary advancement or career education
The presenter’s enthusiasm and expertise brings interest
and credibility to the presentation.
Staff development must be geared toward the needs of the participants,
often to a very narrow grade-level, and its immediate use back
to practice in the classroom
Building on lengths
Staff development that values its participants and looks to
them as a resource is more successful.
- "Expectations" We all need to know for what we
will be responsible
- Opportunity to share
Teachers should be encouraged to collaborate with peers, sharing
work and assistance to one another.
When staff development has a group purpose or goal, the staff,
as a team, is more likely to attain their goal.
A staff needs follow up activities that constantly bring the staff
development goals to the forefront.
- "Practice, Practice" Demonstration and practice
with feedback are essential to help participants accomplish their
Different experiences for different participants who are at different
stages of learning/development.
- Active involvement
Staff development activities should give participants a chance
to be actively involved. Actually doing the activities that the
students will do and then discussing their impact give greater
meaning to the session.
- Opportunity for choice
Having alternate activities for participant choice is often a
way to engage reluctant participants and make the presentation
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Planning During the Initial Staff Development Session
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We continue to reflect on what makes an effective staff development
program as we plan our own staff development year.
1. Identify the elements of a good staff development plan, using
- Acknowledge what we can do and by what we are inhibited
- Decide how we can minimize negative issues
2. Brainstorm areas that this staff would
like to explore for staff development.
- Write ideas on white board
- Seek input from those that ordinarily do not contribute
- Give out sticky dots (2) and allow people to prioritize their choices
3. Make decision of what direction staff will take
- Writing focus for the year
- Involving intermediate as well as primary teachers
- When to separate and when to join together, determined by relevancy
4. Discuss and come to consensus of how to implement the staff
- Before school starts
- At after school inservices
- How often
- How late
- During teacher work days
5. Give opportunity to discuss how we can use staff members’
expertise to provide leadership for staff development
- Staff members that have had writing training will volunteer to lead
- Goal is to involve as many staff during the year in planning or
leading some part of the training.
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for Staff Development Second Session
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1. To enable teachers to implement an effective staff development
plan that they could present and share with fellow teachers in the area
2. Enable teachers in identifying the essential components
of writing clear and topical paragraphs.
3. To Review and recognize paragraphs of excellence and contrast
with those that need improvement.
4. To practice techniques for improving narrative and expository
for Assessment of Staff Development
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1. First day session will end with staff using the staff
development rubric provided for self assessment. As the participants
get ready to fill out the form, they should be encouraged to reflect
upon the following:
a. How did the presentation impact their idea of
b. What would they like to see changed?
c. Could there be better participation or buy in?
2. Second session will focus on writing the perfect paragraph.
3. Continued Staff Development will be guided with input from
the staff. The initial staff developers will provide a timeline
framework and act as resource facilitators for staff. Staff will continue
to give input for future sessions, with individuals contributing as leaders
for topical sessions.
a. Teacher hand out for writing a paragraph.
b. Revision strategies.
c. Rewriting paragraph with new strategies
d. Opportunity for individuals to read their paragraph.
e. Opportunity to score paragraphs against a paragraph
f. Teacher will repeat lesson for their individual
classes and follow same assessment practice.