Author Archives: Amy Williams

The Power of the (Informal) Peer Observation

A powerful professional development tool exists that may be underutilized in your school: Peer observations. That is, the practice of teachers observing teachers with the goal of improving their own teaching. When I started a new teaching position mid-year, peer … Continue reading

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Furniture in the Collaborative Classroom: Desks with wheels may be overrated

I loved the idea of desks with wheels. My lessons usually involve some combination of partner work, small-group work, whole-class discussion, inner circle/outer circle discussions, independent work. Movable desks seemed to make sense for this kind of collaborative practice. And … Continue reading

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Interrogating Language and Power with Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue”

Teachers can use the following cooperative learning activity to ask students to think critically about language and power, and to reflect on their own beliefs about language. ________________________________________________________________________ Materials needed: Chart paper, large classroom space, multi-colored markers that are dark … Continue reading

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Reflections on being a student

Scenario: An instructor at a professional development conference provides each table with a jar full of buttons and a slip of paper with instructions. This is an exercise designed to illustrate a number of things: That inquiry-based learning can be used to … Continue reading

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Reflections on Co-Teaching

I get to co-teach for the first time in my professional life as an educator in my new position at the International School of Düsseldorf. And. I. Love. It. I work with other educators in sciences, math, and humanities to … Continue reading

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Checklists to Promote Learning (and Independence):

Here are a few checklists that I use to help students self-edit writing and engage in peer review activities. I like that these tools make expectations for writing and peer review clearer; checklists are also a great way put responsibility … Continue reading

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What if teachers had more time?

I’ve been wondering: what would happen if educators had the time, space, and incentive to write outstanding lessons, do quality action research, and submit their work to peer reviewed journals? As it turns out, novice teachers might benefit the most … Continue reading

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