Blended Professional Development: Writing

Tina Bloom, M.S., M. Ed., is a Field Site Liaison with PowerUp What Works and a Research Assistant with EDC. She is a certified elementary and special education teacher and was a classroom teacher for ten years.

PowerUp WHAT WORKS  conducted a webinar hosted by The Learning Revolution Project throughout the month of May. The  May 15th webinar was titled, 'Personalize Your Professional Development in Writing.' The presenters shared a case study to demonstrate how the Power Up What Works resources can support blended professional development (PD).

The webinar described the approach used by a private grade 4-8 school for students with learning difficulties and attentional issues. The school’s overall PD goal is to integrate technology into the writing process to ensure all students, and especially those with language disabilities, to meet the Common Core writing standards.

The ongoing professional development program was carried out in three stages. First, teachers, along with PD facilitators, participated in a summer workshop titled, 'Teaching Informative and Narrative Writing', that concentrated on different genres. This workshop emphasized writing strategies, not ways to integrate technology tools.

Next, PD Facilitators received face-to-face training to prepare them for leading Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), during the school year. As part of their training, the facilitators explored the resources on PowerUp, since these linked evidence-based writing practices, with technology, and the Common Core State Standards in writing.

In the third stage, facilitators led the PDCs which met every other week. The overall plan was to guide teachers to collaborate on creating writing units. The facilitators relied on a blended learning approach which combined virtual and face-to-face professional learning opportunities. For virtual learning, the facilitators developed a “Writing Playlist” that mixes materials and resources available on the PowerUp website. These resources, listed below, provided valuable information on ways to differentiate instruction using technology.

Playlist: Using Technology to Teach Writing

  • PowerUp Your Professional Development section, specifically the Differentiating the Strategy Chart for Prewriting. Categorized  under the  evidence –based practices, the chart identified strategies for teaching prewriting.
  • ELA Instructional Strategy Guides (ISGs) for Prewriting, Drafting, and Reviewing. Each ISG contains these sections: 
    • Overview Slide Shows which give an overview of each stage of writing and contain excellent questions that may be used for small and large group discussion.
    • Teach with Tech contains direct links to many technology tools built into the teaching strategies sections.
    • Lessons in Action demonstrate the use of the teaching strategies in the classroom setting and include resources such as a Revision and Editing Checklist for students.
    • Quick View section provides a link to a video on Using Blogs and Wikis to teach writing.
    • Review the Research lists research based articles that support the teaching strategies and suggestions within each guide and has a direct link to the article.
    • Related Resources contains a list of resources that may be used as part of PD training. 

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