Professional Development

Professional Development

SLI's Professional Development component aims to improve student achievement by helping teachers and principals focus on standards, reflect upon and re-design their current teaching practices. Through our workshops and with modeling, design and coaching opportunities*, SLI supports school staff as they learn about and implement strategies encompassed in topics such as Extended Response, Building Background Knowledge, Teaching Strategies for Success, HOTS –Higher Order Thinking Skills, Reading Strategies and Differentiated Instruction.

Throughout the professional development services, SLI emphasizes the importance of building capacity at the school by providing professional development for teachers to become peer coaches, teacher facilitators and involvement on school leadership teams. At SLI we value life-long learning, as a result we are pleased to be able to offer teachers Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs)/lane credit through participation in SLI activities.


Our skilled Professional Development team provides a variety of high quality workshops and on-site support services for teachers and principals. All of SLI’s services are based on proven, high performance strategies that have been continually improved over many years.

Workshop Series

All of our workshops include opportunities for designing an action plan or lesson to immediately implement using workshop strategies. Teachers are given interim assignments and are required to bring resulting student work to the next session. Student work is shared with colleagues using a defined protocol. Workshop series are three days unless otherwise noted.

Strategies for Success Workshops:

Teaching Strategies for Success Year One (PD 01-03)
Workshops: Building a Community of Learners, Windows into Assessment, and Revealing Knowledge through Performance

Teaching Strategies for Success Year Two (PD 04-06)
Workshops: Questioning & Designing for Understanding, Extending & Refining Knowledge, and Keys to Achievement

Differentiated Instruction Workshops:

Equity & Excellence for All Students: Differentiated Instruction – Year One (PD 07-09)
Workshops: Leveling the Learning Field: The Tiered Assignment, Letting the Mind and Heart Matter: Learning Profiles & Student Interests, and Putting it All Together: Managing the DI Classroom

A Collective Journey: Differentiated Instruction – Year Two (Two one-day sessions) (PD10-11)
Workshops: On the Road to Successful Differentiation, From Potholes to Professional Practice

Teaching Extended Response (Two one-day sessions) (PD12-13)

Workshops: Demystifying Extended Response, Scaffolding for Success

Building Background Knowledge : A Comprehensive Approach (PD 14)
What changes can be made to improve vocabulary instruction?
What is “academic” vocabulary? This series translates the research findings of Robert Marzano into action. Focusing on his widely acclaimed book on Direct Vocabulary Instruction and Wide Reading, teachers are engaged throughout the workshops using the very approaches they are studying.

Teacher Facilitator Training (PD 15)
Why encourage teacher leaders? Are there “hidden treasures” in our schools who could do professional development? Provide teachers with the opportunity to expand their professional capacity by attending workshops focusing on: facilitation skills and techniques, and planning and implementing high quality professional development.

Peer Coaching Training (PD 16)
Can a colleague be the best sounding board? What are the attributes of a good coach? Join professional learning communities across the country who have experienced the “value added” in having a team of trained peer coaches. Participants will discuss and practice peer coaching techniques and data collection tools for observation throughout the three days

Teacher Comments
“Today’s workshop strengthened my conviction that students should be taught according to their strength, not their weakness.”
“Now I will be able to look at an assignment, think of my objectives and align the instruction to the grade/ability level of the children.”“I learned how to group students without them knowing…and that pre-assessing them before an activity would be helpful to me and my students.”

“This was a valuable opportunity to fine-tune my class management – great for predicting skills. I’m using many of SLI’s strategies for the National Board Certification.

One-Day Workshops

All of our workshops include opportunities for designing an action plan or lesson to immediately implement one or more of the workshop strategies.

Building a Community of Learners (PD01)What kind of learner are you? How do you teach? Learn how to create an environment that is conducive to students using higher order thinking skills. Practice foundational strategies and explore methods for pivotal change in the classroom or learning community.

Windows into Assessment (PD02)What do teachers need to know about standardized tests? Through the collaborative analysis of the ISAT and other sample tests, teachers explore how to incorporate the same rigor and format into everyday instruction and routine assessment.

Revealing Knowledge through Performance(PD03)How can teachers expose student learning? Key elements of a performance task and its curricular applications are investigated and practiced as teachers examine past practice and plan for professional change. 

Questioning & Designing for Understanding (PD04)What is understanding? What are the implications of designing for understanding? Using Backward Design and the Six Facets of Understanding (Wiggins and McTighe) teachers experience first hand the critical role of planning in the development of lessons that focus more on understanding than simple recall.

Extending & Refining Knowledge (PD05)How can we take “knowledge” to a new level? Research-based techniques that challenge students to go beyond the simple gathering and recalling of information are introduced and practiced. Specific focus is placed on categories of instructional strategies that most greatly affect student achievement.

Keys to Achievement (PD06)What do students in the 21st century need to know? Inferential thinking is examined and methods for inductive and deductive reasoning shared as teachers discuss the challenge and necessity of teaching these critical thinking skills.

Leveling the Learning Field: The Tiered Assignment (PD07)Why doesn’t teaching to the “middle” work? What materials are students ready to handle? How to vary learning opportunities based on student readiness is introduced as the principles of Differentiated Instruction are explored. Special emphasis is placed on pre-assessment and flexible grouping.

Letting the Mind and Heart Matter: Learning Profiles & Student Interests (PD08)Can we afford to have students fall between the cracks because their natural learning mode may differ from the teacher? What is the impact of interest on success? Learn the critical whys and hows of getting to know each student and using this information to plan successful instruction. Teachers evaluate their own preferred learning styles and its influence on their teaching.

Putting It All Together: Managing the DI Classroom (PD09)Is it necessary to plan three different activities for every lesson? How can “tiering” be invisible? Learning Centers, Adjusting Questions and Anchor Activities are just a few of the techniques teachers will practice as they reflect on and design their own differentiated classroom.

PD10 On the Road to Successful Differentiation
Didn’t we study Differentiated Instruction last year? Aren’t we there yet? Research shows that a long-term commitment to the same initiative is essential for any systemic change to be successful. This workshop provides opportunities for deeper exploration of DI concepts and methodologies in an environment that promotes collegial dialogue and experiential learning.

PD11 From Potholes to Professional Practice
Another “here today, gone tomorrow” or a real paradigm shift? Make lasting, meaningful change for teachers and students. Implementation challenges are addressed and action plans developed collaboratively. Each participant shares a culminating project at a school or district wide “Living Museum of Differentiated Wonders.”

PD12 Demystifying Extended Response
How can we simplify the teaching of Extended Response? Increase teacher capacity and student extended response scores through discussion and practice in developing written and oral reading and math prompts, reviewing research and rubrics for scoring student responses.

PD13 Scaffolding for Success
What will it take for students to become proficient at answering ER prompts? Unpacking a question/prompt and writing a quality Extended Response is vital to advancing life long learning. Examine and practice strategies that facilitate development of Extended Responses across the curriculum.

PD17 Building Background Knowledge: An Overview
What vocabulary do students need to succeed? What is the research really saying? This interactive workshop introduces the concepts of Direct Vocabulary Instruction and Wide Reading. Opportunity is provided for collaborating and discussing implementation of lessons learned. 

PD18 Looking at Student Work
Where’s the evidence of what teaching strategies are working effectively? A reflective and supportive look at how student work reveals the best (and the worst) of both teaching and learning practices. Use research-based protocols that employ collegial dialogue and focus on objective analysis of the student work.

Half-Day Workshops

PD30 Using Data To Inform Instruction
Why is data dialogue important? How can we “breathe life” into this information? Begin to utilize strategies for data analysis as your school explores the relationship between what’s being taught and standardized test results. Discuss how data can be used to inform instruction and write SMART goals.

PD31 Teaching Summarization and Main Idea
How important is it for students to be able to summarize? Many successful summarizing and main idea strategies are offered during this session jammed with engaging activities and the chance to collaborate with colleagues.

PD32 HOTS – Making Inferences & Drawing Conclusions
What’s the difference? Best Practice strategies are demonstrated as terms are clarified and methods discussed for teaching of simple & literal inference and drawing conclusions based on evidence.

PD33 Making Success Time Successful (FIP schools only)
What does it mean to be in the Bubble Group? How can you do tutorial and enrichment together? Designing Success Time tiered activities can be an obstacle for teachers unfamiliar with utilizing assessment data to inform groupings. Come explore and practice leveled strategies that are both challenging and engaging.

PD 34 Powerful Reading Strategies
How do we challenge good readers to become great readers? Explore the benefits of explicitly teaching reading strategies such as:  Compare & Contrast and Cause & Effect. Research-based techniques are introduced, modeled and practiced.

PD 35 Powerful Vocabulary Strategies
Are we effectively teaching the Illinois Learning Standards for vocabulary? Opportunities to experience successful vocabulary acquisition strategies are provided in this hands-on session.  The definitions and differences between Words in Isolation and Words in Context are explored.

PD36 Effective Classroom Management
Can we create an engaging, interactive learning environment through positive classroom management? Research-based strategies provide teachers the tools they need to be proactive in preventing discipline problems with a focus on keeping all students engaged and on-task. Explore methods for creating, maintaining and fostering a positive learning environment.

PD37 Math Strategies that Stick
What do we need to know to help our students become better problem solvers? Focus on critical thinking strategies for differentiating instruction to unlock each learner's unique abilities and raise student achievement in math.

On-site Support Services

PD50 Coaching
Objective: To develop the habits of reflection as a means of continually improving our craft as teaching professionals.

PD51 Modeling
Objective: To see a workshop strategy presented in the participants’ classrooms by our trained facilitator.

PD52 Designing
Objective: To work cooperatively with our trained facilitator to integrate a workshop strategy into a teachers’ repertoire. 

PD53 Coach the Coach
Objective: To enhance trained peer coaches’ skills through continued coaching and support.

PD 54 Site Visits
Objective: To share best practices across networks of schools as a professional learning community

For more information about our workshops, please visit