using the words. Some students wrote
stories; others wrote newspaper
accounts or letters; others created
dialogues. The students shared their
impression writing with the whole class,
and we encouraged them to identify
similarities and differences among the
Students then read the assigned essay.
Next, we gave them Venn diagrams and
asked them to chart the main ideas of
their lesson impression compositions,
the main ideas presented in the essay,
and the overlapping ideas. This process
kept the class focused and attentive.
Afterward, we met with the history
teacher during his planning period to
reflect on the effectiveness of the
strategy and discuss ways he might use
it himself. During the following week,
we worked with the teacher to develop
his own lesson impression activity for
another Civil War topic, General
Sherman’s march through the South.
After observing the teacher guiding
the class through this activity, we met
again with the teacher to offer feedback
and respond to his questions
concerning different ways to implement
the strategy with other content and
make it even more engaging for his
students. After three or four attempts to
employ the strategy, the teacher reached
a level of comfort and confidence that
enabled him to add it to his instructional repertoire.
such proposals as daily independent
reading, regular teacher-student conferences, and block scheduling. The school
put these reforms into practice, and
teachers highlighted them as
contributing to Hoover’s improved
student reading scores.
In addition to holding teacher focus
groups, the school established a staff
development committee to identify
strategies for reading across the
curriculum that all teachers were
expected to incorporate into lessons.
After extensive teacher input and
research, the committee set the literacy
agenda for the school, which included
Hoover has brought in Harry Wong,
Jaime Escalante, and Jonathan Kozol to
present in this format. These presenta-
tions have focused on student engage-
ment, classroom procedures, and
improving student achievement in
Like students, teachers need
scaffolding for change.
such strategies as writing to learn,
K-W-L charts, concept mapping, reciprocal teaching, vocabulary instruction,
instruction in note-taking techniques,
and readalouds (Fisher, Frey, &
Williams, 2002). The committee was
also responsible for finding appropriate
workshop facilitators to present these
strategies at the beginning of the year
and for arranging additional monthly
meetings during the school day, once a
month, in which teachers could discuss
their challenges and successes implementing the selected strategies.
Principle 3: Establish forums
for teacher empowerment.
Many secondary teachers need to not
only adjust their practices, but also
change their beliefs, accepting greater
responsibility for their students’ literacy
development. Transforming beliefs
requires that teachers have a genuine
voice in planning, implementing, and
evaluating the improvement efforts.
At Hoover High, teachers gathered in
focus groups to discuss and propose
literacy priorities for their students.
Emerging from these conversations were
Principle 4: Vary the formats
used in staff development.
Professional development for secondary
literacy should not be one-size-fits-all.
Instead, schools should make a variety
of staff development formats available to
teachers. At Hoover High, we use four
One facilitator, 125 teachers. These
sessions with the entire faculty are
designed to introduce big ideas, moti-
vate staff, and provide an overview of
priorities for the year. For example,
another, discuss professional readings,
and engage in collaborative learning.