I am also available for professional development through the AMLE (Association for Middle Level Education) On-Site Cadre:

Below you will find two writing activities that will engage your students in the writing process.

Elementary  |  Secondary

Webinar Opportunity

Below you will find a link to my webinar: Learning is Not a Spectator Sport. This webinar will give you a taste of my hands-on strategies. This is an excellent vehicle to use for entire faculty meetings or for 30 minutes during an early release day.

Watch the Video

Below you will find a link to my webinar: Student Engagement is FUNdamental. This webinar will give you a taste of my hands-on strategies. This is an excellent vehicle to use for entire faculty meetings or for 30 minutes during an early release day.

Watch the Video

Session title:  Learning is Not a Spectator Sport: Engage Students

Rationale: Engagement is an important factor in achievement.  No matter how well organized the lesson is, students learn only when engaged. The goal of teaching is to focus students’ attention on something interesting, useful, challenging, and within their grasp (Lyons & Pinnell, 2001.) Teachers must use many avenues to learning. Some students learn best with their ears, some with touch or movement (Tomlinson, 20001). Classrooms in which students are actively engaged in learning for a large proportion of the time, demonstrate higher achievement in reading and writing than do classrooms in which students are not so engaged.  Engagement is the key; merely completing reading activities is not synonymous with learning (Blair, Rupley, Nichols, IRA 2007). Every effective reading teacher must have a “bag of tricks,” effective reading strategies that engage students in learning at the application level.

Workshop description: Engage and excite all learners with differentiated lessons!  This unique workshop will provide before, during, and after reading strategies where students work at the application level. Activities presented allow students to analyze, create, debate, and present. Strategies presented will allow students to creatively respond to both fiction and nonfiction and learn vocabulary so that it sticks. Vocabulary knowledge is a predictor of how well students will comprehend text.   You will learn techniques to get students to produce quality responses to literature.  All activities presented can be used as alternative assessments that allow students to demonstrate their comprehension and show what they know.  Technology will be incorporated in this session using podcasting and wordles. This session is not for spectators. All strategies support RTI Tier ii instruction.  Come and get involved. Make it, take it, and be ready to implement it.

Session title: Strategies to Engage Struggling and Not-So-Struggling Students

Rationale: Student engagement is the key to success in school classrooms. When students and teachers are actively engaged, a genuine learning community is formed. Research shows us that “good readers are extremely active as they read” (Pressley and Afflerbach, 1995). Good readers also know how to use a variety of strategies as they read.  Student engagement makes learning personally meaningful. Students’ level of interest becomes peaked. Research shows that students who are engaged have a profound grasp of what they learn, retain what they learn, and can transfer what they learn to new contexts. Student engagement fosters student learning. One of the largest challenges facing schools and educators today is how to reach all students. As children grow, their passion for learning frequently seems to shrink. Learning often becomes associated with drudgery instead of delight. A large number of students – more than one in four – leave school before graduating. Many more are physically present in the classroom but largely mentally absent; they fail to invest themselves fully in the experience of learning. Student engagement is imperative.

Workshop description:  Good readers are active readers. Research indicates that when students are engaged in the learning process, learning sticks. Students who have low comprehension levels need more work on monitoring their understanding. This fast paced workshop keeps participants engaged creating sample activities to take back and implement in the classroom. You will learn how to reinforce instruction with active learning strategies while addressing the standards and exciting students with activities that are “hands-on” and “minds-on.” Technology will be incorporated through the use of podcasting and wordles.  You’ll also learn to take thinking to a higher level by increasing rigor in the classroom. You will learn creative ways to increase conceptual knowledge and critical thinking skills.  All activities presented support RTI Tier II instruction.  There’s no sitting still in this session.



Workshop title:  Active Word Play

Rationale: Students with limited vocabularies tend to read less and, therefore, have fewer exposures to new words in running text (Stanovich, 1986). Tremendous differences in word knowledge exist among students—differences that begin to appear at very young ages (Hart & Risley, 1995) and continue to impact learning as students move through school.

The probability of acquiring an unknown words incidentally through reading is only about 15% (Swanborn & de Glopper, 1999), which means the word would need to be encountered eight times to be learned with high probability. And we now have more and more second language learners (ELL’s) in our schools.  These students have serious issues with vocabulary which hinder them from comprehending text.  According to Graves (2000), “If we can get students interested in playing with words and language, then we are at least halfway to the goal of creating the sort of word-conscious students who will make words a lifetime interest.” To deepen students’ knowledge of word meanings, specific word instruction should be robust (Beck et al., 2002).


Workshop description: Roll out the red carpet and give new words a proper introduction!  New words must be used in meaningful ways so students can make personal connections to new vocabulary.  Students must be provided multiple opportunities to interact with words. Learning new words gives students a sense of empowerment.  Having frequent encounters with new words will enable students to make these words a part of their daily vocabulary. Vocabulary knowledge is a predictor of how well students will comprehend text.   In this workshop, participants will be provided hands-on strategies to assist students when learning new words. Bring your cell phone to learn an engaging vocabulary strategy!  Learn how “active word play” supports RTI Tier II efforts.

Workshop title: An Rx for Writing Success

Rationale: Writing is nothing more than thinking on paper.  The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) writing test shows that only 27% of 4th grade students nationwide are at or above “Proficient” in writing.  Communication is key to sharing ideas; 21st century technology provides multiple opportunities for students to communicate in a written form. We must learn to mesh the digital age with writing. We must also actively engage students in the writing process.  When students are engaged in learning, learning takes place.  And writing must be embedded into all content areas. There is no reason why when writing in content area classes that students shouldn’t use the same strategies as when writing in a language arts class. All students must learn to vary their sentence structure and use good word choice.  Diction, syntax, detail, and figurative language should be evident in all writing assignments. One goal is to use writing in multiple ways to prepare students for a variety of disciplinary contexts  (Thaiss, C., and T. M. Zawacki , 2006). Best writing practices must be embedded in all writing assignments across the curriculum.


Workshop description: The key to a successful writing program is to develop an interactive sequence for teaching writing.  Students must first take baby steps before writing eloquent essays.  From burying dead verbs to writing perfect paragraphs and essays, this workshop provides participants with strategies that actively engage students during each phase of the writing process.  Since writing is a recursive process, a variety of strategies will be shared for each step of the writing process. And conventions and grammar do count when teaching writing; strategies will be provided to incorporate the teaching of grammar and conventions as they apply to effective writing.

As a participant in this workshop, you will create samples of activities to take back to your classrooms to use as models. Technology will be incorporated into this workshop using podcasting, text messaging, and wordles. You will be provided multi-functional lessons that maximize instruction and simplify grading. With the use of simple rubrics that are activity specific, student expectations will be clearly evident.

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Making Differentiated Instruction Work

Rationale: The adage “different strokes for different folks” holds true for the students we teach. When students are unable to grasp a concept, a new approach to teaching that concept is necessary.  And since different students learn through different modalities, it is also necessary to differentiate the product required of students.

Workshop description: This workshop will provide a variety of strategies aimed at reaching students at all levels taking into consideration each student’s learning styles.  You will learn how to involve students through the use of questioning aimed at different levels of thinking and how to provide choice in the method students will use to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. Since all students are required to master the same content, teachers must have strategies in place to meet the needs of all students. Strategies to differentiate content will include implementing thinking at the different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and incorporating a variety of instructional delivery methods to address different learning styles.  Process will be addressed through the use of flexible grouping and establishing learning stations for inquiry-based instruction while product will include ongoing assessment and a choice of products that reflect a wide variety of learning styles and interests. Don’t hesitate to differentiate!

Engage  Students in the Common Core Classroom

Rationale: “People work because they have to. That’s why they call it work. But people engage because they want to” (Haudan, 2008). When students are not engaged, the learning process is merely work. Research supports the importance of student engagement. Students learn the most when they are involved in the learning process. No matter how well organized the lesson, students learn only when they are engaged (Lyons, Pinenell, 2001). Teachers must make use of purposeful talk, movement, and autonomy. These indicators of best practices lessen lecturing and allow for a richer array of activities (Zemelman, Daniel, Hyde, 1998). The National Reading Panel (2000) found that reading and language arts skills and abilities are best acquired when students are actively engaged thus the need for educators to combine both brains and body in all lessons.

With the new Common Core Standards, there is a focus on demonstrating understanding and analyzing written material. The key to achieving this is through student engagement.  Students can only demonstrate understanding when they are able to apply concepts being taught. Just as architects need blueprints to follow to make dreams come true, 21st century educators also need a plan to provide skills necessary for students to become successful in the classroom and the workplace. The days of rote memorization and regurgitating facts are gone. Students must be able to exhibit mastery of skills at higher cognitive levels.

Workshop description: This workshop provides hands-on strategies to engage students as they respond to fiction and nonfiction at the higher cognitive levels. Practice writing text-dependent questions, construct during reading graphic organizers, have students learn through webquests, and learn to engage students with unique speaking and listening activities. Research indicates that students who are engaged have a profound grasp of what they learn, retain what they learn, and can transfer what they learn to new contexts.  Student engagement fosters student learning.

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