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Additional Professional Development Workshops

Teaching Strategies that Engage and Assess Students (1 day +/-)


Effective instruction blurs the distinction between instruction and assessment so that, AS students learn, they are also demonstrating WHAT they are learning.  In this session, participants experience a variety of teaching strategies that also serve the purpose of providing pre-, formative and/or summative assessment feedback to the teacher.  A variety of learning styles are represented in these strategies, from scored discussions to writing to dilemmas to making “mind maps” on the floor.  Each strategy also has the benefit of bringing a more active level of student engagement to the classroom environment.  These are techniques that really “work” in a wide variety of classroom settings from grades 3-12.


Improving Classroom Discussion and Discourse (formats from 2+ hours-full day) 


In classrooms, “who talks, learns!”  This workshop explores ways to increase and IMPROVE the quality of student voice in secondary classrooms.  Student talk doesn’t “just happen.”  It requires a welcoming environment, standards and expectations for discourse, modeling, and teachers who are willing to share the learning space with their students. Student voice isn’t valued as an end in itself; rather discussion is integral to inquiry learning and meaning making. How to create an environment for student voice, better understanding what characterizes high quality student participation, and specific classroom strategies that promote high quality participation are the focal points of this participatory session.


Asking More and Better Questions (2-4 hours)


One of the most difficult skills in teaching is asking high quality, thought provoking questions. Questions should be at the heart of our classroom instruction because questions are what promote meaning making, assessment, and thinking. Unfortunately, most of us have had too little explicit instruction and practice in asking “good” questions. That is the focus of this workshop! Participants will explore the role of questions in our classrooms and why we often don’t ask the questions we should. Then, a variety of structures and activities for developing better questions are modeled and discussed. The ultimate goals are for participants to leave the session with greater confidence in their abilities to frame questions and to sustain interesting and worthwhile student discussions. Support materials are provided.

Teaching Controversial Issues With Rigor and Balance  (2+ hours)


Controversial topics and issues surround us--from the daily news to the literature we assign our students.  These issues are “alive” for our students who should learn how to talk about them in a safe classroom environment.  This session will help teachers be more confident and competent in teaching controversial issues.  Effective and engaging strategies for promoting high quality discussion of contentious issues are modeled, as are techniques for working with parents who might take issue with the issues in our classrooms.


Improving Student Writing with Less Time Grading! (2 hours)


This session provides models for helping students learn how to write better expository essays and research papers while REDUCING the grading burden of teachers.  The models work for just about any discipline and can be readily adapted to meet specific classroom and teacher needs from the intermediate grades through high school. 


Scored Discussions:  Teaching Discussion Skills and Grading Student Talk (2 hours)


Scored Discussions provide a model for evaluating student participation in structured classroom discussions.  They are also a form of alternative assessment and can be used to facilitate a wide range of learning outcomes while, at the same time, reducing the number of papers a teacher needs to grade.  Scored Discussions can be used in any content area and are applicable for grades K-12.  Here's what one teacher says about Scored Discussions in her classroom: 


I'm really enjoying using this tool. I have been doing some discussions this week and they just keep getting richer as the students get used to the process. Some students start out a little superficial in the beginning, as if they are just trying to get points, but usually by the end they are having a full debate about something (agreeing and disagreeing and supporting their arguments) which I find really amazing and hard to accomplish through other discussion processes I have tried.


Using Dilemmas to Spark Student Engagement and Discussion (2 hours)


Dilemmas are found in most content areas and are at the heart of a civil society.  Student ability to face and take a position on dilemmas is crucial for active and effective citizenship.  In addition, dilemmas are a great tool for promoting lively and engaged classroom discussion.  This session provides a structure for developing and using dilemmas in social studies, language arts, science, and other classrooms.

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