When I saw that Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher were offering an all day workshop in our area, I went straight to the middle and high school administrators and insisted that they send the entire ELA department. At first, they asked if I could just go and fill everyone in. “No.” I declared. “Teachers all need to experience Penny and Kelly’s insights and enthusiasm for themselves.” Fortunately, they agreed and my district sent 12 teachers and 1 administrator!
The day was transformative. Teachers left feeling validated and inspired to try a few new things. After the workshop, I created a Google form on which they shared their big takeaways. I’ve listed a few of their ideas (and mine) below:
- Everyday practices: Read, Write, Study, Create, Share. Kelly and Penny find time to do each every day, or nearly every day (they were very real about that).
- Provide time for reading in class! If students are not reading with you, they are unlikely to read without you!
- Student to student feedback! Teachers are lucky if they get to confer with a student more than once a week. Providing students with time to confer with one another creates more opportunities to receive feedback and engage in writing.
- The power of connecting students with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Kelly and Penny highlighted many examples of insights their students gained from connecting with one another; Kelly teaches in urban and diverse Anaheim, CA while Penny is in rural New Hampshire.
- Kids spend way more time developing as writers when they engage in “enjoyable writing“
- Complex thinking doesn’t require complex texts.
- Using the term: “Best Draft” rather than “Final Draft”
- Social Justice Book clubs that incorporate choice and opportunity for exploring themes in fiction and informational texts.
- The case for good, old fashioned notebooks!
- “Teaching is an act of love”- Penny Kittle. Thank you for reminding us, Penny!
The beauty of having the entire ELA department attend this workshop is that all of the teachers carried an excitement and a desire to consider how to engage students as readers and writers back to our district! I see so many possibilities for connecting our 6-8 and 9-12 buildings, one of which, is a study group of Penny and Kelly’s book, 180 Days: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents. Additionally, I have set up meetings to support individual teacher’s takeaways in their classrooms.
Spending a day learning from two passionate and knowledgeable educators alongside my colleagues, well, it doesn’t get much better than that!