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Reading Response Workshop for Elementary Teachers (one-day)


In this mandatory one-day PD session, Wendy King (ETSB) supports teachers to learn about the vital role of talk in the response process. She does this through a series of activities including: modeling, video analysis, co-planning and rehearsals of new practices.

Wendy's Workshop Planning Sheet:

Context: Wendy King leads a one-day compulsory workshop prior to the start of school for all elementary cycle II ELA teachers.

In the long term, what do you want students to be able to do?

Therefore, what do you want teachers to be able to do?

● Does this involve a shift in epistemic stance?

● What high leverage teaching practices are targeted for development?

● Why this is important?

● What does this look like in the classroom (video/transcript examples)?

Who is the audience?

● What is the range of teachers’ experience and expertise?

● Is there a gap between teachers’ current practice and the proposed practice?

● What possible misconceptions might audience have?

● Is participation voluntary or mandated?

● Number of teachers?

What are your goals for this session?

● Is the grain size reasonable (explain)?

● What models of exemplary practice can you share early (videos/transcripts)?

● Are there opportunities for teachers to learn experientially?

● How will you collect evidence of teacher learning? 

My personal professional goal, e.g. facilitation move(s): to “stand back” more in group discussions – allowing teachers to “work through” thoughts, ideas and ambiguities instead of giving them all the information.


the week before Send an email welcoming teachers back and giving the workshop details (time, place, etc.).  Ask teachers to bring a book that they’d like to use for response purposes in class, but haven’t yet used

Solidly base new learning in teachers’ classroom practice.

Teachers have to think about criteria for selecting a book;  they’ll have buy-in as they’ll create something they’ll use.  Provide for choice.

Gather some good books to make available for them to use during the workshop, and that they can borrow.



Time: Activity: Goals for Teacher Learning: Resources and Materials:
10 mins

Welcome & Let’s Talk: 

Have some lively music playing as they enter (energy boosting – set positive upbeat tone)

Have tables set up with name cards - pairs from different schools and grades

Welcome everyone - set up parameters (gadget-free space today;  but we’ll do hashtags on paper, and there will be time to check phones, etc. for those who need that)

Have them write one word that summarizes their summer - on their name card.  Share their words with the group (maybe just at their table? for time)

Setting up norms

Community building

Teachers will practice pulling one word “topics” from their stories (as we want students to do for response)

Powerpoint slides


name cards with space below for writing


paper strips for all the day’s activities on each table

10 mins








20 mins









5 min



20 mins






10 mins


15 mins




15 mins

Activity I:  frontload - why we’re focusing on talk for response & questions as the sustainers and deepeners of talk


The mantra:  Talk is vital for response because it’s thinking.

Ask them to talk in pairs about the picture that they have: put up the questions: 

  • what do you notice? 
  • what’s missing from the picture?
  • what do you still need to know?
  • what do you think might be important in or about this picture?

Reflect on their talk:  (as the whole group)

  • analyze what you were saying… what types of talk “moves” did you make?
  • (record their answers:  hopefully ask questions, offer ideas, build on others’ ideas, challenge ideas, give examples, support with proof from the image/print, make connections)
  • go into more detail on questions:
    • why do we ask questions?
    • to clarify
    • for literal understanding
    • to demand support
    • to probe more deeply

Who’s doing the talking?  (Whole group)

  • Bueller video
  • point?  Whoever is doing the talking, is probably doing most of the thinking.

Look at structures for supporting student talk in the classroom:

  • what structures do they use in their classrooms to support talk?  Do a turn and talk
  • have them get up and move - write the structures on strips in groups and post around the room.
  • ones I would expect to see include: turn and talk, think-pair-share, reciprocal reading, literature circles, small group investigation, partner work, Define the line, press (use of “can you tell me more?”, “that’s interesting - say more about that,” “why do you think that’s important?”), standing back, using wait time, encouraging piggy-backing…

Morning break

Whole group - watch the video of Maureen -

  • what do you notice?
  • what do you see the students doing?
  • what do you see the teacher doing to support talk?
  • debrief (list on ppt)

Consolidation of Activity 1: (Individually) draw a visual representation of what was important so far:

  • how is talk related to response?
  • what is response?
  • what is it NOT?

Share in the group – post on wall

Talk (teacher, but mainly student) is vital to response, but it needs to be talk that deepens the conversation, not surface talk.  Questions can help do that.

Talk helps deepen thinking


There are different “moves” that we can make in talking that push thinking further (e.g. questioning)


We can set up structures in our classrooms to support student talk.

enough single pages from different books for teachers to discuss in pairs 


whiteboard or chart paper (may need both so that all participants can see)


Ferris Bueller video clip


Video of Maureen Bowers and her students in class (Literacy Today – Talk)


Paper & markers

45 mins

Activity II:  model of what it might look like in class

      During this activity – wear 2 “hats”:  facilitate the activity, but also “step out” and lead discussions on why the activity is helpful for student learning

      Give out new pictures of a page of a book (all from the same book)

      In table groups discuss your page (there are 11 or 12):

      what do you notice? 

      what’s missing from the picture?

      what questions do you have?

      what do you think might be important in or about this picture?

      try to be aware of the talk “moves” you’re making

      walk around as they’re working on this

     Whole group: Pull it together and ask teachers what they think the characters are thinking or saying - have them add the post-its to their pages (recording ideas)

      Share? - Maybe share with another group or two? (Watch time – sharing is not necessary.  It’s the process that’s important.)

      Read the book to them - project the story pages

      Ask them to talk again in table groups and add to their thinking:

      how does what they know now add to their understanding?

      ask them in their discussion what topics this story seems to address (one word topics - give an example)

      record a few sentences (have them do the writing along with the thinking so they don’t see this as something additional

      list of common topics – have teachers list some of the

common topics that they come across in the texts they use with their students

        Consolidation: Individually "tweet" something important

you’ve learned so far.  Write these on the paper strips and post them on the wall as they leave for lunch.

Talk (teacher but mainly student) is vital to response, but it needs to be talk that deepens the conversation, not surface talk.  Questions can help do that.

In-class practice of the principle of using student talk to deepen thinking.

The black and white pages from Me and You


Post-its for dialogue and thought bubbles
45 mins Lunch    

15 mins










45 mins 

Activity III:  Co-planning  (Move to gym)

      We’ve looked at some ways of fostering talk and response in the classroom. You brought books that you thought you might like to use for response.  There are lots of great books out there, but they’re not all great for responding to.  What makes a good response text (and it doesn’t have to be a book!)

      Game: Define the line – one end of the gym is “strongly agree” and the other is “strongly disagree.”  Read the statements and have teachers move to the place on the invisible “line” that shows what they think about each statement.  (e.g. The subjects in the text should be familiar to students;  The story should be easy to read;  etc.)  Discuss their responses

      Go back to the room and construct a list of criteria of what makes a good response text. (Do this on the powerpoint)

      Does your book fit the bill?  You can choose another if you’re not sure.

      Choice:  get together with a partner to co-plan a response lesson or a series of lessons for your class.  You can choose another teacher from your school, or a teacher from another school of the same grade.  You can use the same text and plan one lesson; or you can plan a common lesson, but use different texts: or you can plan two different lessons together.

      Some parameters:

      You need to include student talk in some form in the lesson(s)

      You need to address the issue of questioning in some way in the lesson

      Your lesson should include some form of recording of ideas, but NOT the writing of a whole response.

      The lesson plan(s) should be put into a google doc, so you can share it with each other and if you’d like, share it with me as well for some input.

       Circulate and observe

Talk (teacher but mainly student) is vital to response, but it needs to be talk that deepens the conversation, not surface talk.  Questions can help do that.

What are the criteria for choosing response texts?



Plan together using the learning from today.
Bin of good response texts so that those who have brought books that are not good response texts can borrow.


      Ask about the process - how did it go? (Whole group)

      Do a graffiti exercise:  on chart paper, list common topics for cycle II student books (one per page).  Circulate the pages and have teachers add titles of good response picture books or video shorts that address the topic.  These will be typed up and shared on a google doc so that teachers can access and add during the year.

      Share the teacher continuum (learning to teach response) draft

      ask teachers to read through it individually and

      see if anything seems missing or if anything doesn’t make sense

      situate themselves (privately)

      set a goal for themselves this year - record this (paper strips - this will give great feedback on the day too!)

      next steps: 

      if you want to hookup with other teachers who have the same goal as you do, or if you want some support in pursuing that goal, then you can put your name on it (on the back if you want) and I’ll set something up.  If you think you have the resources available in your school or through other contacts, then you can just post it anonymously.

  • share the Great Response Texts list that was created by the ELA consultants;  share the website for resources.

Chart paper


Printed copies of teacher continuum


      type up the goals (with no names) and email teachers in a couple of weeks to ask how their goal-work is going and offer support

      schedule classroom and school visits for those who request

      Send another follow-up email mid-year with the goals and  asking what they’ve tried (success stories or “I learned from” stories)



Wendy's workshop planning sheet -Downloadable Word doc

Blank PD Planning Template for you to use  -Downloadable Word doc