Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Look Back at 2009: Meeting Professional Learning Goals

‘Tis the season for year-end best-of retrospectives, and though I’m not a film critic or Amazon editor, I’ve got a list of my own to share. I’m fortunate that this year has brought me enough positive professional development experiences that I’m able to recommend three of them in this, my last INBOX blog of 2009.

Certainly each of these recommended NCTE resources is of exceptional quality in its own right, and I’m confident you’ll find something of value in them. But what makes these three my top NCTE resources for the year is the way in which they met specific professional development needs and goals I’d set for myself: assisting my district’s efforts to reform English curriculum, learning about Young Adult literature to share with my struggling readers, and promoting a building-wide culture of literacy and learning.

In order corresponding to those goals, then, here are three 2009 NCTE resources worth checking out:

Bruce Penniman’s book Building the English Classroom: Foundations, Support, Success
Yes, I blogged about this one last month, but I still contend it’s the best professional book I read in 2009. At once both comprehensive in scope and specific in examples and explanations, Penniman’s discussion of designing a writing program, designing a literature curriculum, and creating an assessment system reinforced what I believed I was doing well, challenged some practices I may want to change, and gave me new insights to approaches I hadn’t even considered. Valuable for new and veteran English teachers alike, this book is one that secondary methods teachers should consider adopting as well.

Jennifer Buehler’s podcast “A Conversation with Matt de la Peña
Jennifer recommended de la Peña’s second book, Mexican WhiteBoy, in her Text Messages podcast back in 2008, but it wasn’t until I listened to this October 2009 conversation with the author that I took her for her word and read one of his novels, Ball Don’t Lie. In this episode, she and Matt talk about his writing process and the characters from his newest book, We Were Here, which is on my reading list for winter break—if I can get my copy back from the student who’s already reading it first.

Doug Fisher (and team)’s web seminar “On Teaching Content: Building a Schoolwide Culture
I’ve mentioned this resource before, too, but like Penniman’s book, it merits a second recommendation. You can access the archived version of this hour-long learning experience to see teachers across subject areas discuss the ways in which instructional routines develop students understanding about content. You’ll also see and hear from students in these teachers’ classrooms who can attest to the benefits of these approaches to building vocabulary and background knowledge and promoting learning through writing.

With your learning goals for 2010 in mind, I encourage you to check out the resources I’ve recommended and peruse the NCTE and websites for other professional learning materials that can help you help students succeed!


Nan said...

Thanks for all of the recommendations. I will definitely have to check some of them out. I am a big fan of Read Write Think. I use it all of the time with my preservice teachers!

Leslie said...

Is Building the English Classroom appropriate for Middle School?

Scott Filkins said...

Leslie--In the sense that it's always useful to see a master planner's planning process, I would say yes it is appropriate for middle school. Bruce's focus on literature, writing, and assessment in the early section should have both direct and indirect carry over into a middle school classroom. Here's a link to the intro--have a look and see if it seems a good fit!