MSM #15 PD on the Cheap

In Podcast #15 (PD on the Cheap), we continue our discussion of NMSA07 Conference sessions. Shawn takes a look at Project LEAD which is centered around Pre-service and service teachers. However, the ideas can be used in a variety of settings. We also discuss some of strategies to improve literacy skills. As usual, there are some good links included.

(Note: due to some personal time constraints, this podcast is available only as an mp3).

Project LEAD: Developing Middle Level Teacher Candidates.

Goals: Make a difference in the classroom

Teacher retention

Support network

Method: In-Service and Pre-Service Teacher Book Club

Book selected and chapters assigned to participants.

In-Service teachers receive a stipend and pre-service were grant supported.

Books Selected:

The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell

Turning Points by Jackson & Davis

This We Believe in Action by NMSA

55 Teaching Dilemmas: Ten Powerful Solutions to Almost Any Classroom Challenge by Patterson (2005)

Other ideas:

Differentiated Instruction:

Articles from NMSA collected together for your Instructional Enjoyment …

Learning by Doing, DuFour

NMSA ’07 Session Experiences (not suitable for all situations)

Writing for Real, Burkhardt

Empowering Students Through Technology, Alan November

Book Club as Professional Development

Discussion seen as scholarly, yet personal and connecting.

Increases personal and practical knowledge.

PD isn’t something done to someone it becomes an active process.

— See Scott Endres’ PD Bingo Game:

Results for Teacher Leaders

Advocates for teacher leadership in a building

Meets a need for continuing growth

Focuses on “Real World” teaching and needs in the classroom

Builds relationships between In-service and Pre-service teachers.

Facilitates a Mentor relationship

Tips for Creating a Book Club as PD:

Create a sense of ownership through shared goals and shared responsibilities

Allow a choice of books: Show 3 or 4 titles in a book talk and then choose as a group.

Allow a choice of focus topics/chapters as participants lead the discussions.

Establish a relaxed, positive environment. (This means FOOD!)

Small groups increase engagement.

Draw in the less talkative members to the conversation

Value personal experiences

Promote asking questions even for those which no one or the facilitator doesn’t know the answers.

Use a writing journal for a before/after reflection of ideas.

Involve administrators who are interested in participating.

References cited:

Clark, C.M. Talking shop: Authentic conversation and teacher learning.

Flores, B., Miller, M., & Selfe, C., “Teachers as readers: Forming book groups as professionals.”

Books used:

Erb, T.O. This We Believe in Action: Implementing successful middle level schools, NMSA

Gladwell, M., The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make A Big Difference.

Jackson, A. & Davis, G. A., Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century.

Patterson, K. 55 Teaching Dilemmas: Ten Powerful Solutions to Almost Any Classroom Challenge. Pembroke Publishers

NMSA ’08! It’s Coming!

Location: Colorado Convention Center

When: October 30 to November 1, 2008

Keynote: Jim Collins, author of Good to Great
Leadership and Effective Learning in Reading/Writing, Math and Science
Presented by Dr. Sharon Faber

  • More than 8 million students in grades 4-12 are struggling readers
  • 70% of students entering 9th grade read below grade level
  • The bulk of older struggling readers and writers can read but cannot understand what they read
  • Many excellent third grade readers will falter or fail in later grade academic tasks if the teaching of reading is neglected.

Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. (
The Big Five:

  1. Phonemic Awarness- the ability to hear, identify individual sounds
  2. Phonics- Understanding predictable patterns to recognize words or decode unfamiliar words.
  3. Comprehension- understanding, remembering, and communicating what is read.
  4. Vocabulary Development- Stored information about meaning and pronunciation of words.
  5. Fluency – Ability to read text accurately and quickly.

Reading Next: A vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy (

Reading Next is a cutting-edge report that combines the best research currently available with well-crafted strategies for turning that research into practice. Informed by five of the nation’s leading researchers, Reading Next charts an immediate route to improving adolescent literacy. The authors outline 15 key elements of an effective literacy intervention, and call on public and private stakeholders to invest in the literacy of middle and high school students today, while simultaneously building the knowledge base.

The Fifteen Elements of Effective Adolescent Literacy Programs
This report delineates fifteen elements aimed at improving middle and high school literacy
achievement right now.
1. Direct, explicit comprehension instruction, which is instruction in the strategies and
processes that proficient readers use to understand what they read,including summarizing,
keeping track of one’s own understanding, and a host of other practices.
2. Effective instructional principles embedded in content, including language arts teachers
using content-area texts and content-area teachers providing instruction and practice in
reading and writing skills specific to their subject area.
3. Motivation and self-directed learning, which includes building motivation to read and learn
and providing students with the instruction and supports needed for independent learning
tasks they will face after graduation.
4. Text-based collaborative learning, which involves students interacting with one another
around a variety of texts.
5. Strategic tutoring, which provides students with intense individualized reading, writing, and
content instruction as needed.
6. Diverse texts, which are texts at a variety of difficulty levels and on a variety of topics
7. Intensive writing, including instruction connected to the kinds of writing tasks students
will have to perform well in high school and beyond.
8. A technology component, which includes technology as a tool for and a topic of literacy
instruction and practice that takes place in language arts and regular classes.
9. Ongoing formative assessment of students, which is informal, often daily assessment of
how students are progressing under current instructional practices.
10. Extended time for literacy, which includes approximately two to four hours of literacy
instruction and practice that takes place in language arts and content-area classes.
11. Professional development that is both long term and ongoing.
12. Ongoing summative assessment of students and programs, which is more formal and
provides data that are reported for accountability and research purposes.
13. Teacher teams, which are interdisciplinary teams that meet regularly to discuss students and
align instruction.
14. Leadership, which can come from principals and teachers who have a solid understanding of
how to teach reading and writing to the full array of students present in schools.
15. A comprehensive and coordinated literacy program, which is interdisciplinary and
interdepartmental and may even coordinate with out-of-school organizations and the
local community.

Also available from the Alliance Excellence for Education:
Literacy Instruction in the Content Areas: Getting to the Core of Middle and High School Improvement

Today, more than six million of the nation’s secondary school students fall well short of grade-level expectations in reading and writing. Recognizing the urgency of this literacy crisis among middle and high school students, policymakers in all parts of the country have begun to implement a wide range of new programs and services designed to help struggling adolescent readers catch up in essential literacy skills, particularly reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. However—and as this report argues—if students are to be truly prepared for the sophisticated intellectual demands of college, work, and citizenship, then these reforms will not be enough. Even as their schools help them to catch up in the basics, students also must be taught the advanced literacy skills that will enable them to succeed in the academic content areas—particularly the core content areas of math, science, English, and history.