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Mark Overmeyer is a native of Colorado, and received his education at the University of Northern Colorado, Colorado College, and University of Colorado at Denver. He has over thirty years of teaching experience, most of it in Cherry Creek Schools in Denver, Colorado. He has worked as a classroom teacher in grades two through eight, a special education and Title I teacher, a coordinator for gifted programming, and as a literacy coordinator. Currently, Mark works full time supporting reading and writing workshops in schools around the United States and internationally. Since graduating from the Learning Forward Academy, Mark also consults with schools and school systems as they move through any kind of change (implementing professional learning communities, embarking on standards-based reporting systems, designing effective feedback models...).
"I became a teacher because school has always felt like home. I never considered another profession. I began working in schools as a senior in high school.… I consider myself a lifelong learner, and so teaching is the perfect profession. Teaching is a process: an art that can never be perfected because each day brings new challenges. I work to become a more effective teacher every day, but I always know there is more to learn."
Mark worked for several years as a codirector for the Denver Writing Project, which is part of the National Writing Project. NWP is still one of the most important staff development experiences Mark has ever had: "The learning you do at a writing project site is impossible to duplicate: you become a writer, and you also have time to think deeply about your own teaching practices. I will forever be grateful for my experiences with NWP, and I continue to seek out their support as I learn more about writing, teaching, and learning." When it comes to professional development, Mark strives to model a process for writing that teachers can take back to their classrooms. "I try to make my staff development useful and concrete, but I push myself to think beyond the event itself. I listen to the needs of teachers during my presentations. I encourage interactive sessions so teachers have the opportunity to share their best thinking with colleagues."
Mark grounds his presentations in his own work with students and teachers and he is always current on research in writing instruction. As he was working on his most recent book,Let's Talk(Stenhouse 2015), he spent a lot of time brainstorming and thinking prior to writing. "As I write, I tend to find my way as the words begin to form into thoughts, and then phrases, and then sentences. As soon as my ideas become very clear, I write two to three times per week, staying with each chapter until it is complete."
When Mark is not teaching, speaking at national conferences, or writing, he likes to travel and read and write poetry.
Writing is hard work. Teaching it can be even harder. As most teachers know, writer's workshop doesn't always go as planned, and many find there are obstacles that they consistently struggle with. In his role as a literacy coordinator and teacher, Mark Overmeyer has heard the same issues raised again and again by both new and experienced colleagues. When Writing Workshop Isn't Working: Answers to Ten Tough Questions, Grades 2-5 provides practical advice to overcome these common problems and get your writing workshop back on track. Acknowledging the process-based nature of the writing workshop, this book does not offer formulaic, program-based, one-size-fits–all answers, but presents multiple suggestions based on what works in real classrooms. The ten key questions this book addresses include:
How do I help students who don't know what to write about?
How do I help students develop stronger vocabulary and word choice?
How do I prepare my students for standardized tests without compromising my writing program?
How should I assess student writing?
How can I help my students use revision effectively?
This book is a handy reference tool for answering specific questions as they pop up during the year. Overmeyer uses student examples throughout to help teachers envision these solutions in their own classes, and he includes an array of classroom-tested ideas for helping primary and intermediate English language learners.
There may not be any easy answers to the complexities of writer's workshop, but by identifying and providing advice on the most common stumbling blocks one encounters, When Writing Workshop Isn't Working provides a solid groundwork—freeing up time and creativity for teachers to address the specific needs of their students.
When it comes to increasing student motivation and success in writing, classroom talk is a powerful tool. More than simply providing assessment data for predetermined standards, talking with our students builds relationships and a community where students rely on one another—not just their teacher—for advice, affirmation, and support. In Let's Talk: Managing One-on-One, Peer, and Small Group Conferences author Mark Overmeyer provides real classroom examples and stories to help educators make conferences more manageable and meaningful.
Organized by types of conferences, Let’s Talk distinguishes between teacher-student talk—which covers one-on-one, small-group, and whole-class conferences—and student-student talk—which includes one-on-one and group peer conferences. In addition to addressing the challenges and needs of teachers, coaches, principals, and staff developers in the elementary and middle level grades, Overmeyer also focuses on how to work with English language learners.
Throughout the book, Overmeyer describes how classroom talk benefits students in a variety of ways, from discovering their interests and backgrounds as writers to helping them develop the language to reflect on their writing progress.
What Student Writing Teaches Us
The earlier that teachers think about instruction, and the sooner that students self-assess their progress, the better the final writing product will be. What Student Writing Teaches Us: Formative Assessment in the Writing Workshop provides practical suggestions for teachers of writing. This book offers no “easy” solutions, because assessing writing is not an easy endeavor. Framed within the context of writing workshop, the book examines the reasons for reading student work and provides various methods for helping students improve as writers. Formative assessment presents teachers with multiple opportunities to read student work, with a clear focus, thereby supporting students in all stages of the writing process.
Chapter topics range from rubrics to grades, from self-assessment to paper load. Student work samples from all stages of the writing process emphasize the importance of considering each piece of writing a student creates, no matter how brief, as an opportunity to learn. Individual, small-group, and large-group discussions illuminate the need for feedback within writing workshop. Every suggestion in the book has been classroom tested with the help of "experts"—students ages five to fourteen—who are quoted throughout the book.
Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion