Leadership Insights

Professional Development Activities for Teachers: Think-Write-Pair-Share (Part 6)

By Terry Wilhelm July 30, 2013

The final post in our series about group reading as professional development includes one last strategy to help teachers process material and ways that principals can reinforce what their staffs have learned.

Levels of sharing and a twist on ‘think-pair-share’

For post-reading processing, always consider several levels of sharing out to maximize the comfort level of quieter staff members, and minimize the monopoly some staff members may typically hold on public airtime. The levels are:

  1. Partner
  2. Small group: either three or four people
  3. Full group: more than four people

A favorite strategy for students that works for teachers, too: think-write-pair-share

As teachers have discovered in the classroom, the “think-pair-share” strategy is much more powerful with the addition of a writing  component, which turns it into “think-write-pair-share.” Here are the steps:

  1. Share a prompt such as “What would this look like in your classroom?” and have participants silently jot down a few notes on index cards or journal pages you have provided.
  2. Sharing aloud with a partner can either be done with an elbow partner at the table or by having your staff find a partner from another table. I typically use the latter strategy, which allows movement and energizing, and gets people talking to others who may have different ideas from those they typically sit with.
  3. Specify how many minutes each partner has to share, and tell the group to watch for your signal that it is time to switch. Otherwise, one partner in many duos will not have a chance to share.
  4. Once partner sharing is completed, have everyone return to their home tables for group sharing. Ordered sharing is helpful for this step.
  5. Ask each table to appoint a spokesperson to share out on behalf of the table group. As time allows, provide an open forum after each table spokesperson has shared.

How to support what your staff has learned

To support and reinforce what your staff gains in these PD sessions, consider the following:

  • During staff meetings or leadership team meetings, ask team leaders to share how their teams are applying the new learning
  • In your own weekly bulletin to staff, mention examples of classrooms where you have observed application of the learning during your informal classroom walkthroughs
  • Use personal written notes or emails to reinforce individual teachers’ application of the new learning

Principal as staff developer: review of key strategies

Facilitated reading and discussion of professional material is an excellent method for a principal to use for building shared knowledge among staff members for continuous instructional improvement. In this six-part series, the strategies presented included:

  1. Full vs. abbreviated jigsaw
  2. Reading cascade
  3. Final word discussion protocol
  4. Chunked and timed protocol
  5. Partner reading
  6. Levels of sharing out and think-write-pair-share

Each approach to reading and sharing out has different advantages and disadvantages. Principals must choose from them based on their staff’s readiness. Fortunately, there are many places to find professional reading that fits their staff’s needs and that is free to use and distribute. Two great places to start looking are Solution Tree Press and  Education Week.

Learn More: Click to view related resources.

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