A Kansas Literacy Festival Partner Spotlight:
Effective professional development doesn't need to be packaged in 45-minute segments.
In the months leading up to our Kansas Literacy Festival this September, Storytime Village is excited to spotlight the incredibly talented individuals and organizations who have partnered with us to host literacy programming across the state of Kansas.
Our first spotlight features Megan Johnson and Michaela Kinyon of Lansing School District. The two English teachers developed "Grab N' Go Teaching" videos to provide professional development for busy teachers.
Meet the Creators
Michaela Kinyon didn't always want to be a teacher, but she fell into the profession after serving as an aide for her English teacher and discovering she had a knack for the work. She then majored in English and Secondary Education and has been teaching for the last five years. She loves having a career that allows her to help people while also geeking out about books all day long. "I don't know where I would be without some of my teachers," said Kinyon. "And I hope I can do the same for my students as well."
Megan Johnson graduated college with an English degree and went into work in an office for four years. She hated it. She wanted to use her English degree in her career, so she went back to school to become a teacher. Fast forward seven years, and she's been happily teaching English for five years now. "I am in a career that is challenging," said Johnson. "But it gives me an opportunity to be creative in a different way."
Kinyon and Johnson have worked together at Lansing High School and both have the same passion for creative, active, and art-integrated classroom activities. It was easier for them to accomplish these activities if they split up the work and helped each other come up with lesson ideas they they could adjust for their particular classes. Over the years, they have learned many new skills and had fun connecting with another teacher who is excited about this discipline and these practices.
The Festival Project: Grab N' Go Teaching
Kinyon and Johnson were invited to partner with Storytime Village's Kansas Literacy Festival through a mutual connection from an art-integration cohort the two teachers were a part of. They showed up to the meetings with little idea of how they would actually contribute to the Festival, but their idea came together as they listened to others present their projects.
The two teachers wanted to create some meaningful professional development resources for teachers that is accessible and easily implemented. As the two noted, so much of the professional development that teachers go through--while well-meaning--is not necessarily the most helpful in terms of actionable classroom strategies. And it also requires a lot of time that teachers don't have. With this in mind, Kinyon and Johnson wanted to approach teachers as professional educators rather than review subjects they had likely learned while in training.
The duo put together a series of short videos to give teachers ideas on different ways to conduct lessons in their classrooms. The activities are designed to work for all literacy levels and texts, and are organized from easiest to prepare to the most involved. They focus on a list of strategies that they wish they would have known when they started teaching, and their videos show how to implement these strategies in the most time-effective way possible. They also provide additional resources and research so teachers can access additional support for these strategies, or dig in to further explore the classroom activities.
"Ultimately, we're simply excited about these strategies, and we want to share them with other educators."
The result is a series of "bite-size" professional development videos with strategies teachers can use in their classroom without doing too much work. With different projects such as sketch notes for literary analysis, interactive art workbooks, and a variety of digital/art projects for students to demonstrate their comprehension, analysis, and reflection of the works they are reading, these “Grab ‘N Go Teaching” videos show teachers strategies they can easily use to increase literacy, excitement, and love of reading.
Kinyon and Johnson's hope for all teachers who view their videos is simple:
"We want to be relevant. We want to reach ELA teachers specifically and help them find ways to make their classroom more fun and interactive for all involved. As we've implemented more of these strategies in our classroom, it's become more fun and fulfilling for us and for our students. We would like other educators to be able to say the same."
Tap Into The Teachers' Creativity
These Grab N' Go Teaching videos are free and accessible to all educators. Follow Storytime Village on social media for a featured video each month, or head over to storytimevillage.org/digital-resources for the full Grab N' Go Teaching channel. Implement some of these creative strategies into your classroom, and let us know how it goes!
Interested in hearing more from Megan and Michaela? They will be presenting at the Kansas Literacy Festival's Professional Development Conference for Kansas Educators!