Essential Skills for Today’s School Leaders

North Carolina's Principals’ Executive Program (PEP), is the first and longest-running program of its kind in the United States. PEP is an excellent example of how rigorous, research-based training in modern leadership techniques and instructional strategies can improve teaching and learning in America’s public schools.

I am pleased to be one of the speakers at PEP's 2006 Statewide Leadership Conference “Essential Skills for Today’s School Leaders.” 

Rigor, Relevance and Content Reading Strategies
Download pappas-rigor-NC-PEP.pdf PPT Handout 3.6 MB pdf   
Download PeterPappas-rigor-relevance.WMA  2 hour Audio 30MB wma
This session demonstrates how educators can boost achievement with a consistent focus on common instructional strategies in a student-centered classroom. The presentation includes practical examples of how school leaders can support content mastery and build student literacy skills in vocabulary, comprehension and analysis. For more information visit my site Content Reading Strategies that Work
In this session we used my TurningPoint audience response system to gather feedback and guide our discussion. TurningPoint can produce a variety of reports and can even track results by individual responder. Want to know more about TurningPoint response systems? Contact Mike Venrose at

Publishing – Academic Success for Struggling Readers and Writers
Download pappas-publish-NC-PEP.pdf PPT Handout 3.5 MB pdf 
Download PeterPappas-digital-publishing.WMA 1 hour Audio  14MB wma
This session offers examples of publishing programs that have successfully helped struggling readers and writers, strategies for incorporating publishing workshops into your school's curriculum, and simple technology tips that produce good results. For more information visit my site Read > Think > Write > Publish

Proficient readers may not be proficient writers

Educators have focused on developing reading programs with the assumption that reading and writing are complementary skills.

Writing Next, a recent report by Carnegie Corporation states, “Writing is sometimes seen as the ‘flip side’ of reading. It is often assumed that adolescents who are proficient readers must be proficient writers, too. If this were the case, then helping students learn to read better would naturally lead to the same students writing well. However, although reading and writing are complementary skills whose development runs a roughly parallel course, they do not necessarily go hand in hand. Many adolescents are able to handle average reading demands but have severe difficulties with writing. Moreover, the nature of the relationship between reading and writing skills changes over time (Fitzgerald & Shanahan, 2000). Researchers know that reading and writing often draw from the same pool of background knowledge—for example, a general understanding of the attributes of texts. At the same time, however, writing differs from reading. While readers form a mental representation of thoughts written by someone else, writers formulate their own thoughts, organize them, and create a written record of them using the conventions of spelling and grammar.”  Full report here 1.4 MB pdf

New digital technologies give students the opportunity to publish high-quality books under the guidance of their teachers. I am promoting digital publishing at conferences, school-based training and my website Read > Think > Write > Publish. The power of publishing enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning.

So why aren’t your students publishing their own books? Part II

ABCs Human Body
ABCs Human Body

It’s been nearly a year since I first raised that question. In case you haven’t heard – print on demand technology has made it possible to produce beautiful hard cover and paperback books without minimum runs or prohibitive upfront costs. During the last year, I have helped teachers from across the country get started on digital publishing. Kids are motivated by producing books for an authentic audience. Publishing helps students master course content and develop project management and teamwork skills. The power of publishing enables students to think like writers, to apply their learning strategies and to organize and express their learning. It exemplifies the best of the information revolution –students as creators of content rather than as passive audience.

I find that a publishing project is a great way to ensure that my training workshops get put to use back in the classroom and result in teachers having the chance to reflect on their practice by looking at student work.

I continue to add material my website – Read>Think>Write>Publish. Go there and you’ll find downloadable template books and tech guides. I also have posted sample student books that you can use as models to motivate your students. You can download them as a free pdf or order them published at cost.

Stay tuned – student publishing is going to be big!

Are students well prepared to meet the challenges of the future?

Try a sample PISA question on my update post: 
“Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students”

Are they able to analyze, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? Or have schools been forced to sacrifice learning for “adequate yearly progress” on state tests?

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides some answers to those questions and offers an insight into the type of problem solving that rarely turns up on state testing. PISA is an assessment (begun in 2000) that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA studied students in 41 countries and assessed how well prepared students are for life beyond the classroom by focusing on the application of knowledge and skills to problems with a real-life context. PISA website

NCLB has narrowed our curriculum and forced many schools into the test prep mode. PISA offers a better picture of the independent thinking and problem solving our student will need to be successful. PISA defines problem solving as “an individual’s capacity to use cognitive processes to confront and resolve real, cross-disciplinary situations where the solution is not immediately obvious… and where the literacy domains or curricular areas that might be applicable are not within a single domain of mathematics, science, or reading.”

A competitive workforce is made up of people who can think independently in complex and ambiguous situations where the solutions are not immediately obvious.  Educators need resources and training to craft a rigorous learning environment where students can function as 21st century professionals – critical thinkers who can effectively collaborate to gather, evaluate, analyze and share information.  You can download PISA sample questions, answers and comparative data:
Executive report 3.4MB pdf
Mathematics items 534KB pdf
Mathematics scoring guide and international benchmarks 624KB pdf
Science items 503KB pdf
Science scoring guide and international benchmarks 461KB pdf
Reading items 835KB pdf
Reading scoring guide and international benchmarks 923KB pdf

The Arts of the World Within Reach: Creating the Cornerstone for Access


Washington DC: Peter Pappas will serve as an advisor to the Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester – Rochester, NY. The museum is a recipient of a 2006 Institute of Museum and Library Services grant – Museums for America – Sustaining Cultural Heritage.

The project includes management and educational activities targeting the gallery’s collections of ancient, Asian, European, Meso- and Native American, and African Art. Activities include full research and documentation for 250 landmark works of art; the addition of 1,525 images to the collections database and website; and the purchase and use of technology for increased storage capacity, backup capability, and security of digital image files. A new curriculum-based educational module will be developed based on core works in the targeted collections. New technology will provide shared access to educational materials and images. The project will support the development of innovative installations of the permanent collection and public access to the entire collection through technological initiatives.

Image credit: Memorial Art Gallery Cutler Union east side