Professional development must be initiated strategically by leaders who have a strategic vision based on the needs of their schools and the principles of adult learning.
Our course, Action Planning for Disciplinary Literacy, ensures that every district-based Reading Ways site leader has been introduced to our coaching approach and developed a strategic plan for supporting cross-disciplinary literacy at his or her school. Dr. Jacy Ippolito developed this course around the concepts set forth in Cultivating Coaching Mindsets: An Action Guide for Literacy Leaders (written with Dr. Rita Bean).
Our mental models and frames shape how we think about our work and how we think about change processes. Much of coaching work is about helping colleagues, other adult learners, to become more reflective practitioners and shift their instruction slowly to improve outcomes for students. However, if the work of coaching is viewed through a purely technical lens (Heifetz et al., 2009) or as single-loop learning (Argrys & Schon, 1974, 1996), in other words, learning that simply requires detection of a problem and implementation of a known solution, then this frame for coaching will likely not produce the deep, systemic changes that most literacy leadership work is meant to provoke. – Bean and Ippolito
Our course introduces some of the big ideas in adult professional learning and provides guidance, examples, and specific tools for school leaders as they set out to determine the literacy needs in their schools and develop plans to meet those needs.
If after completing this course your team determines it is time to become a Reading Ways Partner School, we step into action. We work with your school’s leadership team to refine and implement the plan developed by the RW site leader. Most schools use our book, Adolescent Literacy in the Era of the Common Core, as a key text. Depending on the plan the site leader develops, we may use some or all the following:
If you want to get started, contact us now. We will follow up immediately to get you or a member of your staff enrolled in Action Planning for Disciplinary Literacy.
Every team member has been a teacher, literacy coach, and researcher. We work exclusively with middle and high schools to help content-area teams meet adolescents’ literacy needs.
Joshua Lawrence is an assistant professor of language, literacy and technology in the Department of Education, University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on: (1) creating and testing interventions and teaching methods to improve adolescent literacy outcomes and, (2) understanding L1 and L2 language and literacy development.
Josh’s experience as a Boston Public School teacher has motivated his interest in children’s language and literacy development.
Jacy Ippolito is an assistant professor in the Adolescent Education and Leadership Department in the School of Education at Salem State University, Salem MA. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of adolescent literacy, literacy coaching, teacher leadership, and school reform. Jacy is specifically interested in the roles that teacher leaders, principals, and literacy coaches play in helping institute and maintain instructional change at middle and high school levels. After completing his doctorate in education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), Jacy has taught courses on adolescent literacy, school reform, teacher leadership, and literacy coaching at Salem State and at HGSE.
Jacy’s writing has appeared most recently in the books Adolescent Literacy (2012), Best Practices of Literacy Leaders (2012) and Essential Questions in Adolescent Literacy (2009), as well as in journals and online publications such as The Elementary School Journal (2010), Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s CEDER Yearbook (2010), the Literacy Coaching Clearinghouse (2009), the Massachusetts Reading Association’s Primer(2009; 2005), the Harvard Educational Review‘s Special Issue on Adolescent Literacy (2008), and the International Reading Association’s Standards for Middle and High School Literacy Coaches (2006).
Jacy continues to consult in Boston-area K-12 schools as a licensed reading specialist and literacy coach. Jacy taught in the Cambridge Public Schools for over seven years after earning his master’s degree in education from HGSE and his bachelor’s degree in English and Psychology from the University of Delaware’s Honors Program.
Lisa is an advanced doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Teaching at Boston University, focusing in adolescent literacy and teacher development. She has served as lead teaching fellow, research assistant, and teaching assistant at Boston University, visiting lecturer at Salem State, and as lead teacher in the Intergenerational Literacy Program in Chelsea. Her research interests include academic language development, teacher leadership and development and disciplinary literacy instructional growth and innovation.
Prior to her doctoral work, Lisa spent close to 20 years in a variety of education-related capacities including serving on various public and private school boards and teaching reading, English and social studies at the Watertown Middle School, where she also mentored new and student teachers.
Lisa is a literacy coach and is currently building a private consulting practice working with secondary and college students in Academic reading and writing, college essay writing and college counseling. Prior to her career in Education, Lisa was in marketing with IBM, where she sold IBM systems solutions to solve business problems. She holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Georgetown University.
Jessica Tunney is an advanced doctoral student in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include professional development design and facilitation, clinical supervision and classroom mentoring in teacher preparation, and the intersection between research and practice-based knowledge in classroom teaching and learning.
A former classroom and special education teacher in New York City and Los Angeles, Jessica has been leading professional development for over ten years to support teachers in addressing learning diversity in the classroom through instructional practice and inclusive curriculum design.
Chris Buttimer is currently a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). His research interests include adolescent literacy, critical pedagogy, instructional coaching, and school reform. Chris recently completed a master’s degree in Language and Literacy at HGSE, obtaining a K-12 reading specialist license in the process.
Prior to coming to HGSE, Chris earned his master’s degree in teacher education from UMass Boston and taught 7th and 8th grade ELA in the Cambridge (MA) public schools for six years. In addition to his coursework, Chris has worked with HGSE and the Boston Public Schools (BPS) in a variety of roles, including as an advisor who supported teacher candidates during their teaching practicums.
Chris has also worked as a middle school curriculum developer for BPS through SERP, a non-profit organization linking educators and researchers together to create cross-disciplinary curriculum and improve teaching and learning.
Jenny Jacobs is currently a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Jenny has focused much of her research and coursework at HGSE on teacher reflection & group inquiry and facilitating discussions among teachers.
Her professional development experience includes one year working as Academic Director of a K-9 bilingual school in Honduras, where she coached relatively inexperienced teachers, including modeling lessons, facilitating group planning and professional development, and observing lessons and giving feedback. Jenny also spent one year in San Salvador, El Salvador where she designed and implemented the first year of a professional development program from K-6th grade teachers which included the first-ever coaching program in the country.
Jenny prepared 30 national-level coaches, and they worked with local universities in introduce the program in 300 schools nationally. Jenny is currently working with Wheelock to supervise undergraduates doing school-based pre-practicum work with K-2 students as part of their training to teach early reading.
We have created hundreds of resources in for teaching math, science, history, world languages and more. More importantly, they are clearly organized and labeled, alterable, and clearly aligned with our online and in-person courses. Our goal is to help you share your passion for learning in your discipline by making text more accessible for your students.
Course descriptions of each high quality course are available through links on the right.
In this course, we first provide an overview of the domains of disciplinary literacy that we focus on in our work—disciplinary literacy, vocabulary, discussion, digital literacy, multiple texts, and writing to learn. We explore both the unique and shared challenges that disciplinary texts present for readers. We explore how we use disciplinary thinking when we interpret maps, charts, magazines, poems, and primary source materials to help authenticate the content and bring it to life. Next, we examine the simple view of reading and examine what this view means for reading and learning in and across content areas. Last, we present our vision for using expert texts with novice readers, and by examining texts written by experts across the disciplines, we illustrate how disciplinary habits of mind are realized through language.
Key readings: Chapter 1
Key concepts: disciplinary learning, simple view of reading
So, what can be done to support students to better comprehend disciplinary texts? In this course, we suggest the use of disciplinary literacy pedagogy, which makes use of texts written for both expert and novice audiences, as one method of bringing outsiders into the language of the disciplines. Our intention is not to suggest that teaching language is the end goal of disciplinary instruction. Rather, the goal is to begin to teach students to understand disciplinary approaches to knowledge by making transparent the practice and habits of mind in our discipline. We believe that as the language of each content area is demystified, students are provided with the resources to express their opinions, ideas, and understandings, as well as master disciplinary content when reading in the content-area classroom.
Key readings: Chapters 2 and 3
Key concepts: disciplinary pedagogy, three levels of literacy skill (basic, general, discipline specific), strategy adaption
Learning activity: Adapt a reading strategy to help students adopt a key habit of mind.
In this chapter, we argue that teaching academic words is one of our essential responsibilities as content-area teachers, as doing the work of historians, mathematicians, literary critics, and scientists in the real world requires the ability to comprehend challenging texts. This does not mean teachers should halt the curriculum in their classes to teach word definitions, but; rather, they should utilize research-based supports and content-specific uses of words when they occur naturally in their texts. We critically analyze one freely available program, Word Generation, as a starting point for thinking about how to better support general academic language in our classes and across content areas.
Key reading: Chapter 4
Key concepts: general academic words, content-specific words, Word Generation program, signal words, text structure
Learning activity: Text analysis using Word Sift
This course proposes a tripartite approach to teaching vocabulary. Each of the three components of the framework support each other. This course provides readings and resources to support each of the three legs, which are: 1) create a language-rich, word-curious classroom; 2) teach word-learning strategies; and 3) strategically choose which words to teach. We use the Flanigan and Greenwood framework for determining which words to teach and how long to spend on each.
Key reading: Chapter 5
Key concepts: Frayer model, foot-in-the-door words
Learning activity: Identify and adapt one vocabulary strategy.
Students will disagree with each other. That’s fine. But they need to be taught how to disagree: The phrase, “I see it so differently,” invites difference and clarification; “That’s stupid,” shuts off conversation. According to Erdmann and Metzger, “Discussion is the queen of lesson plans: an essential, prominent, but often under-taught tool for the classroom teacher. Although discussion is the most difficult classroom format to plan and to manage, it is also the ultimate bridge between reading and writing. Nothing in the secondary classroom is harder to plan and lead effectively, except perhaps differentiated instruction. No one is born knowing how to lead discussion; it took us years in the classroom—but it can be learned.” In this course, we provide specific tools and resources to help your students shorten their learning curve toward rich discussion.
Key reading: Chapter 7
Key concepts: protocol
Learning activity: Identify and adapt a discussion protocol, create a plan for gradual release of responsibility, develop accountability and assessment plan.
High-quality academic discussions that contribute to student learning are reciprocal, typically collaborative, sometimes exploratory, and usually open-ended. In the classroom, such discussions encourage students to share their perspectives, so that comprehension of a text or concept becomes a process of reconciling potentially competing perspectives to illuminate each other and helps generate deeper student understanding. In this course, we look closely at the ways that teachers use their instructional talk to strengthen student learning and provide assessment rubrics to help students understand the importance of oral presentation in your content area.
Key reading: Chapter 6
Key concepts: IRE, teacher talk moves
Learning activity: Self-evaluation of teacher talk moves, selection and adaption of oral presentation rubric
How do we determine what level of difficulty will be appropriate for our students, especially those who are struggling? This short course provides a quantitative framework for measuring text complexity (which considers aspects of text, such as sentence length and the number of infrequent words) and a qualitative rubric developed for informational and narrative texts. Additionally, we explore how readability formulas are arrived at, explain how they can be useful but also misleading, and provide online tools that teachers can use if they want to determine a text’s readability level.
Key concepts: general service list
Learning activity: Analyze a lesson text using alternative methods.
While textbooks can be important sources of information in middle and high school classrooms, teachers wishing to encourage critical thinking and strategic reading often introduce multiple texts to students—at different reading levels—to promote understanding and engagement with content-area concepts. In this course, participants will explore the various text types available in their disciplines, as well as how different text types might be used to support student learning. Participants will be introduced to the notion of text sets—groups of texts related to the same content-area topic. We will examine example text sets and create an example that leads students to use key disciplinary habits of the mind.
Key concepts: key central text, sourcing, entry points
Learning activity: Create a text set for one of your lessons.
Our courses introduce some of the big ideas in adult professional learning, and provide guidance, examples and specific tools for school leaders as they set out to determine the literacy needs in their school and develop a plan to meet those needs.
Please explore the course descriptions to learn more.
Why is it powerful “to think like a coach when beginning to design a literacy professional learning project? In this module, we overview the field of disciplinary literacy and introduce the four-part coaching framework that can effectively drive your capacity building work with teachers. You will also be asked to think about the current state of literacy teaching and learning in your context and then determine the next steps needed to build a strong disciplinary literacy professional learning initiative.
Why is an effective literacy assessment necessary in designing professional learning? This module will introduce you to the six critical steps in designing a literacy needs assessment that will inform you of the literacy teaching and learning strengths and areas of need in your school or district, which is essential to know in designing a strong literacy initiative. We also provide access to the Carnegie Content Area Literacy Survey, which is an easily alterable online survey tool that you can use with teachers and students. Analysis of this survey data can help you determine the next steps in the design of your professional learning project.
The six critical steps to assist those involved in conducting a needs assessment, as outlined by Bean and Ippolito (2017) are:
Why should we differentiate learning for adults? In this third module, you will learn the importance of differentiating the learning for the adults in your school. You will learn enough about Constructive Developmental Theory to understand how learning might look different for instrumental, socializing and self-authoring learners and when and how each type of learning might have a place in your professional learning project. You will also learn about human and social capital distinctions and how this might influence teams, departments and the school culture in which you work, and ultimately how these distinctions might influence the design of your professional learning initiative.
What will your professional learning design look like? By the end of this module, you will be ready to complete a draft of your literacy leadership action plan. You will read a case study of a recent disciplinary literacy professional learning project, consider its relevance to your context, and decide which elements you might borrow or adapt for your own professional learning initiative. You will learn about and decide which professional learning structures and routines will help you reach your goals. You will also think about who will participate in this initiative, the timing of various action items and the scope and sequence of the learning over months or years.
We have developed a set of guidelines and resources for district leaders who have prioritized literacy through partnership with Reading Ways. We have tools to help select instructional leaders for the role of Reading Ways Site Leader, and for working with these leaders to develop a multi-year strategic plan. We have also developed our own Disciplinary Literacy Professional Learning & Coaching Standards which align with our course materials to ensure that leaders at all levels have the same expectations for learning and professional growth.
Instructional innovation is a complex issues that requires support at multiple levels.
Best team of educational leaders, coaches, and researchers bar none.
Clear process for creating a needs assessment and strategic plan for your school or district.
Hundreds of free print and digital resources. Online, in person and hybrid coaching solutions.
We are dedicated to providing you and your school the best possible value.