In the Tiny Woman Wordshop, teachers will find exciting, classroom-proven and research-validated approaches to teaching literacy and critical thinking using interactive white boards. But the TWW is so much more than a site to pick up new teaching ideas. It’s a place for learning more about how language works and how we and our students can use this knowledge to deepen our understanding when we read and to communicate more meaningfully in our writing. Linguist and elementary teacher extraordinaire, Christine Portier has put together motivational learning activities that build on each other as modules or that can be implemented as individual lessons.
Shelley Stagg Peterson
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
OISE/University of Toronto
The Tiny Woman Wordshop has introduced an exciting, innovative, and conceptual framework that offers contemporary educators a way to approach and unify their reading, writing and media instruction through the power of understanding how language works! The workshops and resources guide teachers through fundamental language concepts that strengthen their current practices, pull together their favorite classroom stories, texts, technologies and other resources, and will transfer with students into new modes of literacy and new language experiences. This approach is beneficial to the development of learners’ critical and creative thinking, thus engaging them in the power of language.
Christine, the company’s founder, has developed exciting new resources for elementary classrooms, which are clear and cohesive, and include ELL and special education learners. The interactive lessons integrate language instruction seamlessly with the capabilities of the interactive media. The approach and resources ensure that students develop the language and thinking skills needed to express themselves critically and creatively through writing and discourse, about fiction, nonfiction and multimedia texts, and about important community and global social concerns.
Professor Emeritus at the University Of Toronto,
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
When a Principal’s leadership throughout an elementary school is grounded in the principles of language and language instruction, as organized so clearly by Tiny Woman Wordshop, it results in a powerful improvement in teacher effectiveness, learning and socialization. This total literacy approach enables teachers to work in a collaborative and cohesive manner, which spirals up through the grades, and brings increasing clarity and sophistication to their students’ understanding and skills in reading and writing. The impact of this approach is evident in the high engagement of students at all levels, regardless of background or ability. There is a joy and exuberance in learning that is shared by students and teachers alike. Needless to say, parents also feel it! I have seen, first-hand, the positive transformation of teaching and learning within classrooms and schools wherever the “tiny woman” has been!
Elementary School Principal
The Tiny Woman Wordshop modules are engaging and the students’ attention is instantly captured by the graphics and the music. They are drawn into the language concepts, which build sequentially upon one another.
The students begin with the lessons on the flipcharts, expanding their knowledge of the language concepts and how they function. Once they understand the concept, they are ready to extend their learning. For example, with the first syntax module, the students began composing sentences using the “action words” from the lessons (e.g., run, skip or walk), but then they quickly shift gears and begin composing with words not on the list (but in the same category); like “scamper, hoot, mesmerize, stalk, and hibernate”. They felt comfortable leaving the familiar and experimenting within each category. Since we were focused on concepts, all children were able to compose at various levels: the lessons easily differentiate for each student’s development.
The vocabulary that was drawn out of my Grade One students was extremely rich and admittedly, somewhat unexpected. I didn’t know how easy it would be to get 6-year-olds to use adverbs, adjectives, when phrases and where phrases. Now I know that teaching the structural patterns of a sentence helps them not to only learn new vocabulary, but also to understand how new words function in phrases and sentences.
I found that the children enjoyed sharing their work with one another, listening to or reading each other’s work and giving feedback to each other to develop their writing; their writing improved and their choice of vocabulary expanded. I was surprised that writing even a sentence can involve higher-order thinking. There is so much going on in their minds when students are thinking of how to put their writing together. I highly recommend these modules to any teacher who wants to lift the level of their students’ writing.
I first learned about this approach to writing and reading at a workshop offered at our school. I look forward to the Reading Modules, as the PD and support offered on narrative structure was one of the most memorable professional development opportunities around higher-order thinking!
Grade 1 Teacher
Dear Tiny Woman Wordshop,
I have been teaching for twenty-five years now and I can’t thank you enough for bringing this approach to language instruction into my life. It has provided me with the underlying structure that allows me to begin each new school year with the confidence that I have the necessary tools to meet the needs of all the children in my class, regardless of the grade, ESL, or Special Ed. dynamic. This structure allows me to creatively integrate subject areas and seamlessly relate their previous years of knowledge to the new concepts (and content) I will be introducing.
Last year I taught a grade 2 class and this year I have a 3/4 split; all this change after many years of teaching grade 5! Teachers are always looking for support to deal with changes in their assignments … this approach and these materials fulfill that need. The structural framework of this approach is so sound that I can plug any curriculum content at any grade level and experience success in effective long range planning that moves students forward in their learning. I can use the modules for large group lessons and then move on to using them as activity centres while I work with my guided group. The grade 2 students couldn’t wait to have their turn at the interactive whiteboard module. They often asked to hear the music while they worked at other times too! After having taught grade 5 for so long, I was amazed at the level of writing I could get out of these 7 year olds! I attribute this to the techniques I learned at your workshops that helped me provide meaningful and practical descriptive feedback to individual students about their writing.
I have played many roles beyond “classroom teacher”: Host teacher, Site Co-ordinator for teacher candidates, Demonstration Classroom and New Teacher Mentor, Literacy Chair, Math Chair, etc.. As a result, I have been exposed to and pay close attention to the vast amounts of PD and discussion around best practices. To date, nothing has been more useful to me, in all of these positions, than the PD I have received from you. Everyone who has been in my classroom has always left wanting to know more about your resources and “how I got the children to write like that”. Teacher candidates continually ask why they aren’t being schooled in this approach. They frequently say, “Oh, so this is the HOW of language instruction!” and, yes, they emphasize the “how”.
As a parent, my own children have benefited greatly from the ”wordshops” and insights into narrative structure. My daughter, who has grown up in an inner-city neighbourhood and attends a local high school here, is continually praised by her teachers for her literary skills. All her marks are in the 90s and I know she is ready to face the literary challenges of university with this solid foundation we have been able to give her, having learned from you.
I will definitely continue to share this with the many teachers who cross my path and who have been waiting patiently for the launch of this website.
Thank you for all your time and commitment to this very important work,
it is greatly appreciated,
I would like to offer my highest recommendation for Tiny Woman Wordshop’s literacy approach that has been an invaluable resource in my classroom. As a teacher in a multi age setting with a broad spectrum of needs ranging from primary to middle school, learning disabled and gifted, this approach has provided a wonderful way to introduce the structure of language.
Student conferences take on a whole new dynamic as students share their excitement and joy over the gains they have achieved in their personal writing. The astute educator will see an integrative tool that can be utilized to achieve improved reading and writing across all subject areas. It can be used to seamlessly infuse any philosophical emphasis, thus, the public, private and home instruction teacher will find these lessons an uncomplicated and efficient tool in literacy instruction.
Tiny Woman Wordshop approach is not limited to just the external structure of the language arts. It can be used to help students explore the form of the underlying influences shaping the world inside and outside of their individual experiences of life.
Once again, I wish to congratulate the developer(s) at Tiny Woman Wordshop for making a major contribution to literacy instruction.
Teacher & Administrator
Sen Ntiu Baa, School of Higher Learning
FEEDBACK ABOUT TWW WORKSHOPS!
“The total literacy workshop presents a friendly progressive approach to literacy.”
“It was great and I loved the figurative language and relating ideas to visual aids like the ‘stapler’ picture. It is rich in information and simply explained.”
“I think this workshop is wonderful and believe students will really enjoy using all the activities. These activities use technology in fun interactive ways and are great for all types of learners.
“I find it very engaging to students and would excite the reluctant students. It gives ideas on how to address literacy at all age groups.”
“Really engaging presentation and I am taking so much more than content. Its a new way of thinking that doesn’t have to be complicated.”
“I found the presentation really interactive in a casual relaxing way. The way the information is given is based on how you would present it to the students. Modelling is a great way to teach teachers. They need to see and hear how they need to be good teachers.”
“Great workshop and your delivery is done well. I am impressed by your technology presentation.”
“I have seen literally hundreds of presentations and yours ranked among the best.”
“The [interactive technology] was a very effective way to deliver the workshop. The kids would love it as well.”
“Perfects [introductory] bits to show us – it makes me want to attend a longer workshop in order to ‘play’ with the modules.”
“Was a great insight, easy to follow and logical in execution. Would like to see classes in all primary and junior grades follow this example.”
“The first [approach] that makes any sense in this system!”
“… very interesting. I can see how the first stages would work even in J.K.”
“It was very informative and could also be used for E.S.L. Programs, to get people to learn how to write.”
“It makes sense to teach language this way … extremely beneficial to ESL [and] speical needs students.”
“Excellent! It takes the complexity of language and makes it simple for students … (and teachers).”
“I would like to attend additional workshops.”
FEEDBACK ABOUT TWW MODULES AND INTERACTIVE LEARNING!
Christine has a wonderful knowledge of word study and the relation between words, structure, and their functions. This set of lesson activities incorporate word study, integrate subjects, and extend language knowledge in engaging ways!
University of Ontario Institute of Technology
Faculty of Education
“I love the idea of [this approach] with interactive technology. I think its great for multiple intelligence learners.”
“They engage students at all levels.”
“I think the modules are very logical and well constructed”
“Very interactive, engaging and visually appealing!”
“It is the language that engage students and gets them interacting with learning.”
MOST MEMORABLE ABOUT THE CONTENT OF TWW PRESENTATIONS!
“Everything has a function and is related to real life.”
“Word and text relationships.”
“Use technology to engage students.”
“I really liked the cross curricular ideas.”
“That a sentence is a function and is all related to the structure of a story. The four friends that follow a story is amazing.”
“Building sentences with word function in mind.”
FEEDBACK FROM PARENTS!
“At this workshop we learned a lot, more than I learned in 12 years at school! You have made a huge impact on us about learning to write (compose) a sentence or story.”
“I have noticed a big improvement in my daughter’s … reading and language skills … she like to read words everywhere we go.”
“Excellent, found it very useful and I will try to implement this strategy in my own writing.”
“The workshop was very informative and simple to understand … I now know how he [my son] is being taught composition. This will enable me to make homework and writing much more enjoyable for him.”
“… my child seems enthusiastic to learn and enjoys her lessons – and wanted very much for me to take this course!”
“I would like to see my kids learning about it. I enjoy hearing about it.”
“It help me understand how to be helpful to my kids … as a person that come from Europe it was very helpful for me.”
“I need to think about this … It was a truly engaging workshop. A very impressive speaker.”