Meet SURN’s New Graduate Assistant, Julie Marsh!


We are thrilled to welcome Julie Marsh as the newest member of the SURN team! Though this is Julie’s first year at SURN, she has been a student in the Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Ph.D. program for three years, specializing in Curriculum and Educational Technology. Julie is finishing up her coursework this semester and will soon begin working on her dissertation. Prior to entering the program, she was an 8th grade English teacher in Henrico County Public Schools. Currently, she is an Instructor of Designs for Technology-Enhanced Learning (Elementary Education) at the School of Education. Julie is also a founding member of The William and Mary Educational Review and is the current Editor-in-Chief of the journal. She is also the current President for the Graduate Education Association. Julie is excited to work with all SURN participants this year!

Visible Leading for Secondary English Language Arts


The SURN Visible Leading for Secondary English Language Arts teachers focuses on scaffolding college and career readiness skills in English classes. Through the workshops, teachers consider how they can best address college and career readiness learning outcomes in their own classrooms through learning experiences focused on student engagement in authentic writing, choice reading, and project based learning with a purpose. The following resources are excellent starting points for school and teacher reflection on college and career readiness in their own schools and classrooms. Use these links to reflect on your own practice, start a conversation with your colleagues or student, or get ideas for new strategies to implement in your school or classroom.

Blendspace Learning Module: Virginia College and Career Readiness for Secondary English

This SURN learning module guides you through a brief overview of the VA college and career readiness initiative, video reflections by SURN teachers who have been a part of the implementation process, and other resources that have helped to inform the implementation of the CCR English Performance Expectations into Virginia English classes and SURN workshops.

The Virginia Department of Education College and Career Readiness Initiative Website
The VDOE website provides the CCR performance expectations and course information for English and Math and the data, resources, and research that support the statewide initiative.

The National Council of Teachers of English Position Statement on Leisure Reading
Independent, self-selected reading has a positive impact on students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary, and engagement. Policymakers, administrators, teachers, and families need to foster efforts to increase opportunities for leisure reading in and out of the classroom.

The National Day on Writing
On October 20, 2014, teachers and students across the US participated in the National Day on Writing. They spent time writing across different modes, for different audiences, and for different purposes. Find out more about the event, and more importantly, examples and resources for supporting authentic writing experiences in school every day.

CREATE Conference

On October 2-4, 2014, SURN partnered with the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness (CREATE) at the School of Education for CREATE’s 23rd annual conference.  The conference topic for this year was Assessing Student Learning: The Impact on State, National, and International Accountability.

Over 200 researchers and practitioners came together to focus on assessment and teaching.  Dr. Jan Rozzelle, Director of SURN, presented with Amy Stamm of Middlesex County Schools and Tony Vladu of Newport News Public Schools on Visible Leadership and Action Research: Formative Feedback to Teachers Enhances Student Engagement and Learning.  Dr. Jennifer Hindman, SURN Assistant Director, presented with Amy Williams, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral student in Counselor Education.  Their session was titled, Empowering Elementary Educators in Nonfiction Literacy: Professional Development Program Design, Implementation, and Evaluation.  Julie K. Marsh, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral student in Curriculum and Educational Technology, presented on Design Thinking and Participatory Culture.  Kerrigan Mahoney, SURN graduate assistant and doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Educational Technology, presented on Transfer of Learning: Professional Development to Classroom Practice for Secondary ELA Teachers.

The CREATE conference was a wonderful opportunity to engage with researchers and practitioners of all levels in both K12 and higher education, especially current doctoral students.  While it was a larger conference, it still had an intimate feel that allowed more discussion during and between sessions that fostered scholarly engagement and feedback on research.


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College and Career Readiness Workshop

Motivating adolescents to read can be a challenge for educators; however, we know that there are four factors that make a significant positive difference when it comes to adolescent reading. Students who have knowledge goals for reading, choice in what they read, interesting texts, or opportunities to collaborate are not only more motivated to read, but also have increased reading comprehension and achievement (Guthrie & Humenick, 2004). On Tuesday Oct. 7, 45 secondary ELA teachers gathered together at SURN for our first of four workshops in the 2014-15 school year. This workshop series will focus on building student engagement and literacy practices in order to best prepare students for college and career. Each teacher left the workshop with two contemporary YA books – one fiction and one nonfiction – to help to jumpstart literacy efforts this year. Below are the titles from which they were able to choose.

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SURN Principal Academy

The 2013 and 2014 cohorts of the SURN Principal Academy met in September to continue their learning about high yield strategies. The 2013 cohort dived deeper into a session on John Hattie’s book Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learndesigned by Carol Sceare. Meanwhile the 2014 cohort considered how various learning strategies aligned to teacher pedagogy using a sorting activity on the form. Both groups engaged in a simulated observation using the indicators of student engagement form led by SURN Principal Academy mentor, Tony Vladu, principal of Denbigh High School (NNPS).


Elementary Nonfiction Literacy Workshop

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On September 23rd, 33 third through fifth grade elementary teachers attended SURN’s Elementary Nonfiction Literacy workshop.  Participants attended from across 14 different SURN school divisions.  In addition to the 33 participants, four teacher-leaders from SURN member divisions attended to provide leadership and support for participants.

During the first session of the three-event Elementary Nonfiction Literacy initiative, participants identified key components of student engagement, participated in a sample lesson that integrated content-area knowledge with nonfiction reading skills, and engaged in over 10 different activities that promote student engagement and learning.  Participants also learned more about SURN’s Visible Leadership model and how the Elementary Nonfiction Literacy workshops fit into SURN’s larger goal of distributing leadership from central office and into each classroom.  This distribution of leadership capitalizes upon a shifting focus toward student engagement by putting John Hattie’s research on high-yield teaching and learning strategies into practice in classrooms and empowering all faculty and staff to engage in dialogues surrounding these strategies.

In addition to a wealth of new ideas and opportunities to network with colleagues, participants of SURN’s Elementary Nonfiction Literacy session left with the Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy book as a resource to begin putting new ideas and strategies into practice.  Participants will reconvene in February and again in April to reinforce and add to strategies that increase student engagement.