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Free Resources for Professional Development

Some of the worst teaching I’ve ever experienced has come from good teachers. Most all teachers have been exposed to this common phenomena. Often it takes place on a regular basis at the end of a long school day, once or twice a month. Sometimes it rears its ugly head during the summer and almost always on specially designated days preceding the start of the school year, when everyone wants to be in their classroom or going out to lunch with colleagues. It’s affectionately known as professional development.

Now to be fair, some of the best teaching I’ve ever experienced has come from good teachers and in the context of professional development. These are the teachers that have learned their audience and how to teach that audience. It’s qualitatively different than teaching a class of elementary, middle, or high school students.

Teachers tend to be a tough and judgmental crowd. Especially when held as a captive audience. Often the most open-minded thinkers become the most close-minded learners in professional development meetings. However, there are some basic principles, strategies, and tricks of the trade that will improve the delivery of professional development in a variety of contexts.

Following are articles, free resources, and tips regarding professional development from the Pennington Publishing Blog. Bookmark and visit us often. Also, check out the quality instructional programs and resources offered by Pennington Publishing.

Professional Development

Spelling Songs and Raps for the Eight Conventional Spelling Rules

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/spelling_vocabulary/how-to-teach-spelling-part-iii/

Effective Secondary School Reading Staff Development

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/effective-secondary-school-reading-staff-development/

Reading staff developments at the middle and high school levels can be challenging. However, accomplishing three goals will improve results significantly. Learn three sure-fire components for effective secondary reading staff development.

How to be an Effective Reading Specialist

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/how-to-be-an-effective-reading-specialist/

As an elementary reading specialist and staff developer for five years, I learned from lots of my mistakes.  In the hope that prospective reading specialists, coaches, and staff developer might learn from someone else’s mistakes, I’ve jotted down a few tips.

Why Johnny Still Can’t Read

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/why-johnny-still-cant-read/

Meet Johnny. Although… you probably already know him. Johnny has reading problems. Learn why and what you can do to make a difference in his life.

Why Johnny Can’t Spell

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/spelling_vocabulary/why-johnny-cant-spell/

“Johnny could be a great writer, but his terrible spelling just gets in the way.” It may be unfair, but society judges poor spellers quite harshly. Misspelling words on a job application won’t land Johnny a job. Use an effective diagnostic test to pinpoint his spelling weaknesses.

The Four Myths of Grammar Instruction

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/grammar_mechanics/the-four-myths-of-grammar-instruction/

Many Americans use poor grammar because of poor teaching. The “whole language” movement of the 1980s and 1990s relegated grammatical instruction to a simple editing step in the Writing Process. A new generation of teachers is playing “catch-up” to learn grammatical rules in order to rectify horrendous standardized test scores, including those on the new writing component of the SAT®. This short article identifies and debunks the widely-held grammatical myths.

Teacher Professional Organizations

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/study_skills/teacher-professional-organizations/

Here is a great list of professional organizations for teachers.

Ten Start-up Tips for New Teachers

http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/ten-start-up-tips-for-new-teachers/

New teachers can “make or break” their school year in the very first days and weeks. Here are 10 start-up tips for new teachers that will ensure success and prevent costly mistakes.

More Articles, Free Resources, and Teaching Tips from the Pennington Publishing Blog

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The writer of this article, Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, Teaching Essay Strategies, and Teaching Reading Strategies, PLUS more ELA/Reading resources for the overworked teacher committed to differentiating instruction according to diagnostic and formative data. Perfect for EL/ESL and RtI instruction. For free diagnostic assessments, game cards, and instructional materials, as well as his highly-recommended curricula, check out www.penningtonpublishing.com. Bookmark and refer back often to the Pennington Publishing Blog for insightful articles, free resources, and educational tips. 

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Effective Secondary School Reading Staff Development

“Oh no… another obligatory reading staff development. If the presenter says ‘every teacher a teacher of reading’ just one time, I will walk out.”

“What does this have to do with me? I teach math. Another district-mandated reading-across-the-curriculum in-service. Ho-hum. Glad I brought papers to grade.”

As an administrator, literacy coach, English-language Arts teacher, or staff developer, you know the challenge. How can you train and convince such a diverse group of colleagues, representing the full slate of academic disciplines, that staff development in reading is valuable at the middle or high school level?

As educators have addressed the issues and suggested instructional strategies to respond to the growing “achievement gap,” many have come to the point of validating reading guru Anita Archer’s comment that “the ‘achievement gap’ is chiefly a ‘literacy gap.’” Today, there is wide consensus that secondary schools need to improve delivery of reading instruction, even at the expense of content-laden curricula.

“Oh great. Another thing to cram into my course. I don’t have the time to teach everything I am supposed to teach-not to mention what I want to teach.”

As a reading specialist/staff developer, once assigned to a high school, I know how secondary teachers, and even elementary teachers (been there-done that, too) can be a tough audience during a reading-based staff development. However, I’ve found that even the most obstinate, stuck-in-the-mud teachers do care about their students. Most will care enough to be willing to try something new, if they see the direct pay-off for their students.

In my experience, to get staff buy-in, you’ve got to accomplish three fundamental goals:

1. Ensure that all teachers feel that the strategies directly apply, in some degree, to their own academic disciplines. And let’s be honest, the matter is less relevant to some.

2. Give teachers something they can use the next day, and

3. Get the staff actively involved in the presentation.

Here are three sure-fire reading staff developments that I have presented at secondary schools and a nice resource for each:

1. Train and convince every teacher to assign reading in their academic discipline for homework on a regular basis. Here’s how.

2. Train and convince every teacher to use the same language of instruction i.e., the same terminology, for teaching and practicing reading strategies. SCRIP  is a set of self-questioning prompts that students can use to promote the author-reader dialog. Beyond the memorable mnemonic, the advantage to these strategies is that they work equally well with expository and narrative text (all academic disciplines).

By the way, if these reading strategies make sense to you, email me at mark@penningtonpublishing.com and I will send you some colorful SCRIP bookmarks that I have students use during silent reading. Offer a sign-up sheet for teachers who want class sets of these bookmarks (laminated or cardstock).

3. Train and convince every teacher to teach and have students use the same read-study method for expository reading. The PQ RAR method is a nice update on the “tried and true” SQ3R read-study method.

Using the same language of instruction is simply “user-friendly” for our students. Having similar instructional strategies lets students know that we do actually talk to teachers in other departments. More importantly, a staff that commits to using these strategies will significantly impact the reading performance of its students and help to bridge the “literacy gap.”

Mark Pennington, MA Reading Specialist, is the author of the comprehensive reading intervention curriculum, Teaching Reading Strategies. Designed to significantly increase the reading abilities of students ages eight through adult within one year, the curriculum is decidedly un-canned, is adaptable to various instructional settings, and is simple to use—a perfect choice for Response to Intervention tiered instructional levels. Get multiple choice diagnostic reading assessments , formative assessments, blending and syllabication activitiesphonemic awareness, and phonics workshops, comprehension worksheets, multi-level fluency passages recorded at three different reading speeds and accessed on YouTube, 586 game cards, posters, activities, and games.

Also get the accompanying Sam and Friends Phonics Books. These eight-page decodable take-home books include sight words, word fluency practice, and phonics instruction aligned to the instructional sequence found in Teaching Reading Strategies. Each book is illustrated by master cartoonist, David Rickert. The cartoons, characters, and plots are designed to be appreciated by both older remedial readers and younger beginning readers. The teenage characters are multi-ethnic and the stories reinforce positive values and character development. Your students (and parents) will love these fun, heart-warming, and comical stories about the adventures of Sam and his friends: Tom, Kit, and Deb. Oh, and also that crazy dog, Pug.

Everything teachers need to teach a diagnostically-based reading intervention program for struggling readers at all reading levels is found in this comprehensive curriculum. Ideal for students reading two or more grade levels below current grade level, English-language learners, and Special Education students. Simple directions and well-crafted activities truly make this an almost no-prep curriculum. Works well as a half-year intensive program or full-year program, with or without paraprofessional assistance.

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Reading Strategies

Teaching Reading Strategies

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