PD – “History in the Making” Journals

professional resources, writing

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As a coach, I’ve struggled with finding my role in remote learning. Normally, I support teachers, but with the unfamiliar expectations and pressures teachers are facing right now, would my support be overwhelming? This article from Gravity Goldberg helped me reflect on the ways I could best contribute to my school community. One of the ways I could help most was by continuing my professional development.

After doing several Zooms with TCRWP staff, I decided that one of my major contributions would be to continue offering PD to my staff. Lucy Calkins talked about having students AND teachers do big, important work during this time, not busy work. Provide some purpose. This PD isn’t compulsory, but it is flexible. Teachers can decide if and when to do the PD. On-demand PD allows for choice and availability during this unpredictable time.

The question became: What will I teach? I’ve been posting on my social media accounts about kids keeping journals during this historic crisis, and I recently realized that ADULTS could benefit from keeping a journal right now, too: for our mental health and for ideas to use with students. So I created a PD opportunity for any interested staff: “‘History in the Making’ Journals”. It’s a flipped PD, which means teachers will explore the resources I’ve gathered and tinker with their journals on their own. Then we’ll share our experiences (NOT our journals) in a Zoom on Wednesday, April 1 at 3:15. Piktochart came to my rescue again by providing an easy-to-use infographic template for my workshop:

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Here’s the breakdown of the PD:


To build teachers’ background knowledge, I shared an article from the LA Times, “Journaling the coronavirus pandemic”. I copied the article to a Google Doc so that my colleagues could track their thinking with comments. I love doing this for a couple reasons. First, making others’ thinking visible is fascinating and helpful. I usually learn as much from my peers’ comments than I do from the text! Second, it models a task that teachers could replicate with their students.


I gathered resources for the minilesson in a Padlet: more background info, examples of journals, prompts/sentence starters, and minilessons. Basically anything that could inspire journal work. I especially love the journal examples, most of which I took from the LA Times article. A graphic journal? I’d never considered it. Writing a note in my phone? Pretty handy. These resources could also be used with students. Seeing all of the options gave me all sorts of ideas.

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Tinker Time

Tinker time is what I call the middle section of the workshop when writers and readers get the bulk of time to practice the skill or strategy taught in the minilesson independently. For teachers’ tinker time in this workshop, they’re going to work on their journals. They might tinker with a different structure each day until they find a “just right” fit for them, or they might do something different every day based on what they want to express. As teachers work through this process, I hope that they have some moments of genius about how they could adapt this work with students or supports students might need.


I scheduled a Zoom for Wednesday, April 1st at 3:15 for anyone to attend, whether they did journal work or not. Since journals are intimate and private, we won’t be sharing journal pages. Instead, we’ll share our experiences with the process and reflect on ways to do this work with students. I’m really looking forward to the conversation.

I’ve started brainstorming other on-demand PD ideas to lead during quarantine. Do you have any requests? Let me know!

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