Speaking/Workshops

While Matt is a full-time practicing classroom teacher, he also loves helping his fellow teachers and is also available for a limited number of keynotes and workshops. He has presented at NCTE, NAIS, DePaul University, Michigan State University, The University of Colorado, and numerous districts and ISDs. He is currently accepting offers for the 2018/2019 school year and summer of 2019. To get a sense for him as a speaker, here is a talk he gave at last year’s NCTE:

Matt will work closely with you to make sure your district/county/school’s needs are met; he can speak to a wide range of writing related topics, but he has an especially deep knowledge base in the following areas: 

Less Grading, More Writing, and Better Feedback

When it comes to student writing, there are three things conclusions that are supported with a near consensus in the research:

  • Students need to write a lot to maximize writing growth. Most experts put it at between 30-60 minutes per day.
  • The mere presence of a grade on an assignment often significantly slows learning, limits creativity and risk-taking, and supports the formation of a fixed mindset.
  • Strong feedback that is formative, personal, targeted, and timely is one of the most effective teaching tools we have, but in practice feedback actually tends to be summative, impersonal, broad and disjointed, and delayed.

This keynote/workshop explores the theory and research behind writing, grading, and feedback and explains how that theory can be translated into classroom practice, with the goal of helping teachers to assign more writing and give better feedback and grades without adding more to their plates. 

Here is a link to a keynote version of this that Matt gave on 8/29/18 and here is a link to an Edutopia post Matt wrote on the subject.

Grammar in Context

Grammar matters. It can stand in the way of clarity and meaning, students will be judged harshly in the world according to their use of it, and it is heavily covered on standardized tests. Yet over the last half a century, an overwhelming majority of studies have found that the dominant way we teach it–through isolated, sporadic worksheets–is at best ineffective and at worst harmful to students’ development as writers.

This workshop first breaks down the research above and unpacks the reasons why out of context, isolated grammar worksheets don’t work. It also examines the question of how to teach grammar when the tried and not so true method of grammar worksheets regularly fails to lead to significant growth, with an emphasis on teaching grammar in context. Also provided are a wealth of practical resources for how to incorporate teaching grammar in context.

To learn more about Matt’s approach to teaching grammar in context, here is an Edutopia article he wrote on the subject. 

Building a Stronger Writing Identity

In the last five years, a number of major studies have come to the same conclusion: Student identities–the stories they tell about themselves–are as or even more impactful in terms of their learning than their capabilities or IQ. The widely-cited Farrington et. al found that “resilence, persistence, drive, and delayed gratification are as important as cognitive skills,” a McKinsey report found mindset to be twice as predictive of student success as home environment, and John Hattie puts expectations and teacher credibility as having the first and fourth highest effect scores out of the thousands of factors he studies.

This talk/workshop would share all of this research and outline the key practices that teachers can engage in to build stronger learning and writing identities. To get a sense of the topics, look at the posts here, here, and here. 


Matt has also given keynotes/run workshops on how to teach peer review, how to train writers to become more metacognitive, how to be more targeted with feedback, what new teachers need to know about teaching writing, and many other topics. If you are interested in having Matt come to your school/district/conference to speak or run workshops on these or any of the things above, please contact him for more information. His availability for 2018/2019 is very limited, so reach out soon!