Services & Presentations



We provide consultation and professional development to enhance instructional and leadership skills in literacy and other content areas. 



November 2-4, 2018. ASCD Educational Leadership Conference. Nashville, TN. Let Them Talk! Building a School Culture Where Student Voice Matters.

December 4, 2018. Learning Forward Conference. Dallas, TX. Leading a Schoolwide Student-Led Discussion Culture.


February 7, 2019. Wisconsin Reading Association Conference.

Literacy Classroom Visits


The Literacy Classroom Visit Model is designed to provide schools and districts with information on the alignment between their literacy instruction and research-based literacy practices. It is a process that uses specially trained consultants to give support, ideas, and feedback on enhancing literacy practices in schools and/or districts using a Literacy Classroom Visit instrument.

Our consultation provides data-driven direction for schools or districts looking to improve literacy practices to maximize academic benefits. ​ The consultation will vary by school district and will depend upon a variety of factors, including the school staff's ability to focus on this initiative. Support for the Literacy Classroom Visit Model will include a template for the self-study questions, classroom visit observations, data and analysis, and the development of a report. Watch the video to learn more about the process. Then call or send an email to seek information for your school or district.



“I know what to look for now when I visit classrooms because I have access to the resources from the Literacy Classroom Visit Model. Our whole leadership team collects and discusses data from classrooms. We celebrate our successes and discuss what our next steps might be as a school community.”

Peter Otterson, Principal

Student-Led Discussions


Similar to the Literacy Classroom Visit description, we work with a school or district to develop a plan for professional learning related to student-led discussions. Examples of workshops and on-going professional development include: ​

Topic: Beginning the journey - giving students more opportunities to talk

Audience: K-12 teachers

Key concepts: Using a variety of strategies to increase student talk; Understanding what student-led discussions are and are not and why they are important; Understanding the framework to enhance student-led discussions; Talk strategies and when to use them; Developing & using talk prompts

Topic: Content & communication learning targets to enhance discussions 

​Audience: K-12 teachers

Key concepts: Explicitly teaching students content and communication learning targets; Developing and teaching a content and speaking/listening learning target; Assisting students by providing talk prompts until they are able to use them on their own

Topic: Leadership workshop for student-led discussions 

Audience: School and district leaders, literacy coaches

Key Concepts: The importance of creating a whole school culture where students are encouraged to lead their own discussions; Determining qualities to look for in classrooms where students engage in powerful academic discourse; Conducting classroom visits to determine patterns of student voice in classrooms; Using whole school data to determine professional development needs and monitor professional learning implementation

Topic: Moving beyond student talk to deep discourse 

Audience: K-12 teachers

Key Concepts: Helping your students engage in deep academic discourse; Understanding the difference between student talk and deep discourse



"When you work in a school like mine where 70% of the students come from poverty, and where class sizes are astronomical, you need all the help you can get to keep students engaged and learning!  I have been working with Sandi Novak for several years, and this year my school was selected as a Reward School by the state of Minnesota for the fifth year in a row. The resources I have gained through my work with Sandi, and the skills my students have honed in creating meaningful discourse, have contributed greatly to our success."

Lisa Swanson,



These are some of the most frequently asked questions by clients inquiring about our services.

Q: Our school district is going through a literacy review cycle. Can you help us by providing direction for our professional learning and resource needs?

A: Absolutely! It is one of our most beneficial services. We can assist school districts as they review the status of their instructional practices and student performance. Through our work with schools and districts, we often provide assistance to develop and deliver professional learning by assessing the current status of instructional practices and student performance. 

Q: How can we ensure that our professional learning aligns with our instructional practice needs?

A: Often, we are asked to conduct Literacy Classroom Visits in all schools before making recommendations for professional learning. Then we assist school or district leaders in developing a 2-3 year professional learning plan based on instructional practices and student performance needs.

Q: We want more students to engage in  discussions they lead. How do we begin? Do you provide professional learning to address this area of need?

A: Student discussions don't just happen on their own. We have found that following a framework as described in the books listed on this website will provide direction for instructional moves. While the books provide the structure that is needed for quality discussions to happen, our services can be extended to include professional learning opportunities for schools and districts. Contact us to learn more!

Using Literacy Classroom Visits in a School District

In this video, principals talk about the value of using the Literacy Classroom Visit Model throughout their school district.

Synthesizing using multiple texts: grades 4-6

Check out this video of three examples revealing how powerful student-led discussions are when students synthesize multiple texts to determine big ideas

Synthesis with profound insights and connections: Grade 9


This example compels us to embed the student-led discussion framework into our classrooms, schedule daily opportunities for students to engage in discussion and provide extended periods of time for more profound insights and connections to occur.

Asking Good Questions

Grade 6 student-led discussion emphasizing the use of good questions. Watch fors: type of questions used to keep conversation going; demonstrating accountability by coming prepared for group work; conversing, disagreeing, and challenging ideas; considering points of view from other group members; comprehending and evaluating texts in order to convey intricate or multifaceted information

Discussing Big Ideas

Grade 6 student-led discussion demonstrating discussion about big ideas and use of thinking skills.  Watch for making connections, paraphrasing, citing textual evidence, synthesizing, building on others' ideas, understanding other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, discussing big ideas, becoming fully engaged in the work of the group, comprehending and evaluating text so deeply that it makes the reader want to respond