On August 2nd and 3rd, we facilitated a professional development workshop for English Language Arts teachers at Tracy Unified School District in Tracy, CA.
The workshop was titled Creating Critical Thinkers through the Study of Literature and its focus was building literature-based units of study that meet the demands of Common Core.
The following are some testimonials from that workshop:
“Finally! A workshop that was teacher-driven by competent educators. The presenters were knowledgeable and accessible. The book is teacher-friendly and very helpful. Thank you!”
“I rarely write ‘strongly agree’! Thanks for the coaching and patience! Excellent time flow management! Great scaffolding for middle school! Wonderful content and help!”
“Very organized and practical. Everything I learned I can apply to my own classroom. Thought the ‘So what?’ phrase is great; can’t wait to see their reaction after saying it for the 1,000th time.”
“Please have the James’s come back. I was very impressed and really enjoyed having our speakers. Great job.”
“Great, useful activities and focus on rigor.”
“Time was well-spent and informative. Liked the ‘So what?’ approach.”
“Great, dynamic duo!”
“The presenters were knowledgeable and kept things interesting.”
“I learned some new ideas that I can implement this year.”
“This was quite helpful. Having actual teachers who work with students and have used these techniques was a smart choice. I look forward to using this this year.”
“Thank you for helping us enrich our curriculum w/rigor. I am looking forward to reading your book.”
“Two days in a row with lessons I can use immediately!”
“The instructors were very organized and had us active the entire time.”
“Really developed ways to promote understanding and creating connections with literature.”
“This has been the most relevant workshop in years. Thoroughly satisfied.”
“Bring Liz and Bill back!!!”
On January 9th, we led a workshop at the University of the Pacific in Stockton on creating critical thinkers through the study of literature.
The workshop was based on our book, and focused on the following:
- The rationale for using quality literature (fiction, poetry, drama, and literary nonfiction) in the middle and high school English classroom.
- Strategies and activities for introducing and implementing close reading, using George Saunders’ short story “Sticks” and the lyrics of Billie Holliday’s “Gloomy Sunday” as examples.
- Increasing the quantity and quality of rigorous student writing.
We will be conducting a similar workshop at the 2017 CATE (California Assoc. of Teachers of English) Conference, February 17-19 in Santa Clara, CA.
The following are some testimonials from our wonderful participants:
“Very engaging! I wish more teachers would attend! As an administrator, it is enlightening to see solutions to bringing critical thinking to the classroom through literature.”
“So many great things in this workshop. I want to try everything TOMORROW!!! Thank you so much!”
“Extremely informative and useful. I found and will implement at least three strategies (close reading, on-demand writing) that I will use right away. Thank you!”
“This information needs to be shared with our curriculum director!”
“Thank you for all of the methods that I can use in the classroom. As a new teacher with no experience, this information is extremely helpful.”
“Really effective and simple strategies. As a first year teacher, I would strongly urge my undergraduate peers to check out this presentation and the Method to the Madness book.”
“Informative and entertaining, with plenty that will be useful in the classroom.”
“Thank you. Workshop went by quickly and had great, engaging, purposeful information.”
“We were offered many examples/useful samples of student work and activities. We can use this material in the classroom for planning—especially how to increase writing.”
“Y’all are amazing.”