The introduction, directions, and strategies for this faculty workshop will be offered on the website www.readingacrosscurriculum.com. The introductory presentation will provide a rational for the entire staff development in-service. The website also features twelve comprehension strategies and four vocabulary strategies. These strategies are divided by subject area, with examples specific to the assigned areas. Participants may refer back to the site at any time.
Although I am not specifically assigning departments to use a specific strategy at a given time, I am suggesting a systemic approach. After looking at the possibilities, I welcome the individual content areas to determine which one of the strategies they would like to implement first. Upon deciding, teachers are encouraged to use the strategy regularly in order to achieve mastery for both implementation and for use by students and teachers.
For implementation of the strategies, I prefer to follow the suggestions of Tovani (1999). First, help students recognize what the strategy is. Then, create situation in which they have an opportunity to experience what it is like to use the strategy correctly. Third, support students’ attempts to implement the strategy on their own. Finally, give students time to practice the strategy on more difficult material and text.
After the first three weeks of school have passed, departments will reconvene to discuss progress—both the successes and struggles—with the strategies. As pointed out by Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001), instructional strategies do not all work equally well with all students in all situations. Strategies are simply tools that educators need to teach students how to use. After discussing the strategy that was used during the first three weeks, teachers should collaborate to determine any helpful alterations or adjustments that may be helpful. Then, as a group, the department should select another strategy from the list for implementation.
After the first two meetings, teachers will reconvene as departments every two weeks to share their experiences and reflect on progress. They should bring student example whenever possible. When nine weeks have passed and all strategies specified to departments have been implemented, the departments will have a final conference to discuss what worked well, what did not work well, and why. After the departments have had time to consider all that has transpired in relation to the strategies’ implementation, the entire staff of the professional educators whom have participated shall meet as reflective practitioners, sharing their experiences with one another. The hope of this meeting is to discover what has worked well, ways to make what didn’t work well better, and possibly encourage interdisciplinary use of the comprehension strategies.
Finally, in efforts to foster more communication, I have also provided a discussion board for each subject area. This provides teachers with a way to immediately comment on the success or lack of success that he or she may be having with the strategies, instead of waiting until the meeting. The purpose of this board is to encourage professional support among educators and to further professional learning.