Posts Tagged ‘secondary staff development’

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

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

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

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

“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

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

Here is a great list of professional organizations for teachers.

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

English-Language Arts and Reading Intervention Articles and Resources 

Bookmark and check back often for new articles and free ELA/reading resources from Pennington Publishing.


Pennington Publishing’s mission is to provide the finest in assessment-based ELA and reading intervention resources for grades 4‒high school teachers. Mark Pennington is the author of many printable and digital programs. Please check out Pennington Publishing for assessment-based resources created for teachers by a fellow teacher.

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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 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.”


Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

Pennington Publishing provides two reading intervention program options for ages eight–adult. The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is a full-year, 55 minutes per day program which includes both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). The word recognition components feature the easy-to-teach, interactive 5 Daily Google Slide Activities: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spelling Independent Practice 4. Heart Words Independent Practice 5. The Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables 1ith comprehension and word fluency practice for older readers. The program also includes sound boxes and personal sound walls for weekly review.  The language comprehension components feature comprehensive vocabulary, reading fluency, reading comprehension, spelling, writing and syntax, syllabication, reading strategies, and game card lessons, worksheets, and activities. Word Recognition × Language Comprehension = Skillful Reading: The Simple View of Reading and the National Reading Panel Big 5.

If you only have time for a half-year (or 30 minutes per day) program, the The Science of Reading Intervention Program features the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities, plus the sound boxes and personal word walls for an effective word recognition program.


FREE DOWNLOADS TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic ELA and Reading Assessments FREE Resource:

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