Professional Development

Amy MacDonald’s Teacher In-Service

Teacher In-Service and Professional Development

Amy MacDonald provides a rare opportunity to learn the teaching of writing from a real, published author, who also has extensive classroom experience.

She began working on professional development in 1996 when she was invited by the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington to join their national Partners in Education touring program as one of few Teaching Artists specializing in Creative Writing. Ms. MacDonald worked with the Center to create a series of workshops with an original approach to teaching writing.

“Our teacher training workshops had experienced declining enrollment over the last two years, but we had to turn teachers away from both of Amy’s workshops. They were oversubscribed.”

“Besides being incredibly talented and knowledgeable about writing, Amy MacDonald was easy to work with and flexible.  She adjusted her materials to fit the wide grade-level range of our K-12 teachers. She was also extremely effective working both one-on-one, and with groups.  I strongly recommend her workshops and her coaching to other presenters looking for high-quality experiences for educators.” –Scott Dawson, Education Director, Kennedy Center “Partners in Education” sponsor Springfield, Ohio

THE APPROACH

All of her workshops follow five basic principles. They:

• Avoid the idea of ‘teaching to the test;’ instead they naturally incorporate dozens of Learning Standards;
• Use what Amy has learned as a writer and in the classroom to help teachers be comfortable with writing and teaching writing;
• Explore real writing techniques as used by real writers;
• Use school-tested activities that are proven to be easy to adapt to the classroom; and
• Are active as well as reflective, and entertaining as well as instructive.

THE WORKSHOPS

1. “Writing about Diversity: The Art of Writing Short” Grades 5-12. Producing a short, memorable quote is basically the same thing as writing a poem: it requires the writer to take a complex, abstract, idea and reduce it to a few words.

This workshop takes the difficult and abstract topic of diversity and tolerance and helps teachers find ways to get students to think about and express themselves on the topic– and then to create a few short, powerful quotes on the subject. These quotes can be combined with other efforts (using artwork, for example) to celebrate diversity and prevent bullying in a school system.

2. “Writing by Storm: Overcoming Common Obstacles” Grades 1-5. Using simple, concrete, and fun techniques this hands-on writing workshop focuses on teaching group writing and brainstorming techniques that will help students (and teachers) learn to recognize and overcome common obstacles and anxieties about writing: coming up with ideas; narrowing focus; staying focused; creating a well-developed beginning, middle, and end; adding supporting detail; and tackling revision. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Workshop.

3. “Teaching Persuasive Writing” Grades 1-5 and Grades 5-8. In a world where students are bombard by media messages, becoming aware of the importance of word choice and author intent—whether in news, advertising, or in fiction—is the first step in teaching young writers how to use language persuasively themselves. This playful yet serious workshop looks at ways we are manipulated by–and can manipulate others through–persuasive writing techniques.

4. “The Writers Bag of Tricks” Gr. 3-10. This workshop takes participants through various writing exercises designed to help them—and students–sharpen their own writing skills by learning to approach a piece of writing (and by extension, reading) like a ‘real’ author does. Participants will be better able to recognize why—and how–authors do what they do: to recognize different writing techniques and then use these techniques themselves. [Similar to the Persuasive Writing workshop but aimed at slightly lower grades.] Gr. 3-10

THE SCHEDULING OPTIONS

In keeping with the movement among educators toward in-depth Professional Development, Amy offers three different levels of training

• Short Module: one Professional Development Workshop
• Extended Module: Workshop + Classroom Modeling
• In-Depth Residency: Workshop + Modeling + Coaching

The simple workshop sets forth the principles and engages the teachers in learning. The more extended residencies give a self-selected Focus Group of teachers a chance to apply and reinforce what they have learned in the workshop in their own classrooms; to communicate with each other and Ms. MacDonald about concerns; to assess how well concepts have been absorbed; and to benefit from one-on-one coaching, classroom modeling, observation and co-teaching.

1. Short Module (1/2 day): Workshop
One Professional Development Workshop
Time frame: 3 hours; after school or during Professional Day
Maximum participants: 30 teachers

2. Extended Module (2-5 consecutive days): Workshop + Modeling
Day 1: One Professional Development Workshop
Time frame: 3 hours; after school or during Professional Day
Maximum participants: 30 teachers, including up to 4 Focus Group

Day 2: Four Demonstration Teaching sessions (Ms. MacDonald modeling practices from the workshop in classrooms while Focus
Group observes)
Time frame: up to 1 hour/session the next day; plus a ½-hour after school meeting with 4 Focus Group teachers to assess the Demonstration session.
Maximum participants: 4 Focus Group teachers (who were present at Day 1 Workshop)/day, plus any other interested classroom observers

(NB: If there are more than 4 Focus Group teachers, more Days can be added here.)

3. In-Depth Module (4-8 days): 2 Workshops + Modeling + Coaching
Day 1: First Professional Development Workshop
Time frame: 1 ½-3 hours; after school; plus ½ hour planning meeting following workshop for all Focus Group.
Maximum participants: 30 teachers,including at least 4 Focus Group

Day 2: Four Demonstration Teaching sessions (Ms. MacDonald modeling practices from the workshop in classrooms while Focus Group observes)
Time frame: up to 1 hour/session the next day, during school hours; plus ½-hour after school meeting with 4 Focus Group teachers to assess the Demonstration session.
Maximum participants: 4 Focus Group teachers (who were present at Day 1 Workshop)/day, plus any other interested classroom observers)

(NB: If there are more than 4 Focus Group teachers, more Days can be added here.)

Day 3: Second Professional Development Workshop
Time frame: Several weeks later; 1 ½-3 hours after school; plus ½ hour planning meeting for Focus Group
Maximum participants: 30, including at least 4 Focus Group

Day 4: Four Observation/Coaching sessions (Ms. MacDonald observing or co-teaching with each Focus Group teacher)
Time frame: up to 1 hour/session the next day; plus ½ hour after school meeting with Focus Group for feedback, reflection, assessment
Maximum participants: 4 Focus Group teachers/day

(NB: If there are more than 4 Focus Group teachers, more Days can be added here.)

REFERENCES

Amy Duma
John F. Kennedy Ctr. for Performing Arts
Washington, DC 20566
Tel. (202) 416-8812
ALDuma@kennedy-center.org

FEES/BOOKINGS

For Professional Development Workshops
Amy MacDonald
10 Winslow Rd.
Falmouth, ME 04105
(207) 781-5526
amymac@maine.rr.com

 

 

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