Noyce: Professional Development: Brenda Wallace

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Brenda Wallace, Literacy Consultant

"Much of the work of professional development is to lift people up and engage in a process of change, moving from a stance of certainty to curiosity."

Brenda Wallace is a literacy consultant who began her work as a professional developer with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, directed by Lucy Calkins, at Columbia University's Teachers College. Brenda was able to combine her passions for writing, for teaching, and for inspiring reading and writing teachers and their students while working with the Project and has continued to do so ever since. Brenda is a distinguished leader in the field of teaching writing and reading, working around the country in partnerships with district leaders, principals, coaches, staff developers and teachers to create K-12 school-wide and system-wide educational reforms. For the past five years, Brenda has been consulting with the Noyce Foundation, working in close partnership with Audrey Poppers, the director of the Every Child a Reader and Writer initiative. Currently, she is co-director of West Coast Accelerated Literacy Learning, with the founding director, Susan Radley Brown.

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The following are approaches used while facilitating professional study:

  • Direct Instruction
  • Modeling
  • Experiencing the Process as Students
  • Team Discussion, Planning, Application and
  • Reflection

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Unit Design – Planning, Teaching, and Reflecting on a Personal Narrative Unit of Study and a nonfiction unit of study in Writing Workshop

The idea for planning this specific professional development came from the requests of teachers across participating districts to teach them a process for planning writing workshop units of study. With this in mind, Audrey and I decided that I would plan for a sequence of learning experiences that would introduce and build on teachers’ knowledge in planning two units of study, a “personal narrative” unit and a “nonfiction” unit. Decisions needed to be made about:

  • Who would attend and how many people
  • The number, length, and timing of the sessions
  • Expectations and goals
  • Content
  • Process - balancing approaches  
  • Habits of mind that strengthen teaching and planning and support students as learners in writing workshop

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