Activity Guide

Using Internal Networks for Teacher Support

In many secondary schools, teachers work in isolation from their peers; however, new College and Career Readiness Standards will require schools to build both the individual and collective capacity of teachers. Teachers working together tapping into their shared knowledge and experience, supporting each other, and learning from their peers will become the foundation of long-term school improvement initiatives.

This activity can be used with the full faculty or with school teams, such as improvement, leadership, etc., and is designed to incorporate the close reading activities addressed in “Time to Focus” and in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.



  • Chart paper, markers, and sticky notesNote: This activity will employ the following strategies: Ink-Pair-Share, Collaborative Pairs, Close Reading, Active Listening, Writing, Jigsaw, and Large Group Discussion.

Ink-Pair-Share Group Activity

  • Divide the faculty into groups of eight by asking each person to count off, 1–8. Direct the group to divide into four pairs as follows: 1 pairs with 8, 2 pairs with 7, 3 pairs with 6, and 4 pairs with 5. Instruct each person in the pair to identify him or herself as A or B.
  • Distribute copies of the reading, “Time to Focus,” to each participant. Inform the groups that this is an InkPair-Share activity and that each group will take responsibility for one of four sections of the article.
  • Instruct each person to read through the assigned section:
    • Group 1: Introduction and Evidence
    • Group 2: Curriculum
    • Group 3: Literacy
    • Group 4: Lessons
  • Upon completion of the reading, ask the participants to re-read their section, this time highlighting, annotating, and noting important points. The leader should circulate while the group is “close reading” their respective section.
  • Next, ask each participant to write (Ink) a short, concise statement/“elevator speech” that includes three key points from their reading. The leader should again circulate to ensure that each participant is engaged.
  • Inform the group that the As will have one minute to present (Pair) their elevator speeches to their partners. While As are talking, Bs should be listening and noting (Ink) key points.
  • At the end of one minute, ask Bs to take 30 seconds to provide feedback to As about what they heard.
  • Next, Bs have one minute to read their elevator speeches to As, who then have 30 seconds to provide feedback to Bs.
  • Ask each pair to take five minutes to reach consensus on the key points of their section of the article.
  • Ask each group to report (Share) on the key points of their section, recording the points on the chart paper (one sheet for each of the four sections).

Whole-Group Discussion Activity

Re-divide the group so that those working on the first section are working together, those working on the second section are together, and so on.

As a group, discuss the following questions related to each section of “Time to Focus”:

Introduction and Evidence

  • What are Schmoker’s three keys to improving student achievement?
  • How has our addiction to “what’s new” hurt our schools?
  • Why has collective effort/all teachers working together become so important at this time?


  • What kind of curriculum does Marzano believe is key to student achievement?
  • While curricula need not be perfect, what three elements must be present for the curriculum to be effective?


  • Why is literacy inseparable from good instruction?
  • We need to at least triple the amount of reading, writing, and text-based discussion in most schools. Why?


Each lesson should begin with a clear “learning target,” which should be derived from the curriculum and stimulate curiosity and existing background knowledge.

  • Discuss the key elements of a lesson.
  • Discuss the two goals of instruction: 1. On-task and learning (engagement) and 2. Mastery of each task before moving on to the next skill.