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87 Search Results for ""teacher effectiveness""

  • Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders Five Ways for Teacher-Leaders to Bolster the Effectiveness of Peers

    • From: Krista_Rundell
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “How to cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to http://edge.ascd.org/page/ascd-forum.html

      How many educators have “fallen” into a teacher-leadership role without intention?  As a high school social studies instructor, I continually strived to refine my skills both the art and science of teaching.  In my ninth year, I was encouraged to apply for a grant-funded position that would take me not only out of my classroom, but also out of my comfort zone.  However, I also knew that I would regret passing up this opportunity for personal and professional growth. 

      During my five years as a Curriculum and Instructional Technology Coach, my growth was exponential.  My most pivotal insights involved learning how to best move the district towards achieving its mission and vision through ongoing, job-embedded, collaborative, and supported professional development. 

      It is my hope that what I have learned can serve not only as a guide for other teacher-leaders, but for all educational stakeholders interested in building a climate and culture dedicated to staff development and student achievement.

      1.     Be a life-long learner: Model continuous learning alongside peers.

            Learning can be engaging, enthusiastically contagious, and invigorating.  Experiencing that “AHA!” moment-of-realization continues to be remarkable, even in adulthood.  Teacher-leaders share the joy of this adventure with peers, engage curiosity, and spark momentum for knowledge-seeking.  Similarly, they also recognize that everyone has valuable contributions that add to the collective learning of a group, and thus, encourage the facilitation of learning over the “sage on the stage” mentality.

      2.     Be a contributor: Build a Personalized Learning Network.

            Connecting with other dedicated educators opens doors for the permeation of new concepts, astute advice, and best practices.  Teacher-leaders exchange ideas with their network, then share these perspectives with peers in the district to help direct next course of action.  Better yet, teacher-leaders invite interested peers to join their online network (see #5 below).  These additional viewpoints can help direct the movement of initiatives forward or provide guidance when the path needs to be altered. 

      3.     Be a canvasser: Seek input and multiple perspectives when introducing, modifying, or deepening initiatives.

            Valuing the opinions of others, even those who disagree, builds character, collegiality, and a positive climate in which learning and growth can flourish.  Teacher-leaders suspend judgment, actively listening to and incorporating the ideas, concerns, and solutions of others.

      4.     Be an advocate: Create a communication bridge between administrators and teachers.

             Uniting stakeholders helps reinforce our common goal to provide a valuable, meaningful educational experience for our students.  Oftentimes, our own vision is limited by the constraints of our daily schedule, the pressures of external forces, and the determined focus on accomplishing our own tasks.  Teacher-leaders weave connections between administrators and teachers to address the “whats, hows, and whys” to create a deeper understanding between both groups.

      5.     Be a capacity-builder: Stand next to colleagues as they integrate their new learning into practice - and reflect with them afterward.

            Offering to co-teach with teachers integrating a new practice can alleviate feelings of uncertainty, promote confidence, and lead to fun, engaging collaboration.  Teacher-leaders spend time with colleagues reflecting on the effectiveness of lessons in relation to student learning, focusing what went well, and addressing what could be improved.  In addition to building capacity among staff, this interaction shows students that teachers work collectively to provide the most effective instruction in order to meet their varied needs.

      “Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”  ― W.B. Yeats

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    • 5 days ago
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  • How can teacher leaders be ide How can teacher leaders be identified and cultivated?

    • From: Janet_Gates
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do cultivate and support teacher leaders?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.

      How can teacher leaders be identified and cultivated?


      In a school setting, it is important that leadership does not come only from the administration, but from all aspects of the school community.  As peers, we can identify and cultivate teacher leaders through paying attention to each others’ strengths and skills (including our own), and by seeking information and feedback.

      Teachers are leaders when their influence extends beyond their own classroom.  This influence can be a simple as working with a colleague to improve teaching practice through observation.  It could be more involved, such as working as part of a curriculum development team.  Leadership could even be quasi-administrative, such as serving as department chairperson or as a mentoring teacher.

      No matter the role of teachers, we can identify leaders by paying attention to their strengths.  Are they good listeners? Do they work to include all participants in meetings? Do they think “outside the box” to help solve problems? These are all skills that can serve well in leadership. When we are with our colleagues, we should pay attention to these types of skills, and should point them out to each other.  Additionally, we should pay attention to our own strengths.  If we find that we are effective at meetings, at talking to others, at helping all members contribute, we should hone these skills and improve them to increase our leadership.

      Seeking Information
      Seeking information and feedback can help cultivate a fledgling leader – even if that leader is ourselves.  When there are areas of concern, such as an unproductive team member, we should look for resources to guide us to effective communication.  We can ask our peers to give us feedback about our effectiveness in different areas – especially our communication.   We can honestly give feedback to our colleagues if they seek it.

      Leadership needs to be cultivated throughout a school community.  Even if we have terrific administrators, we are a stronger organization when we can pool our talents and skills.  Identifying and cultivating leaders is a task for the entire school, because it benefits the entire school.

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    • 4 weeks ago
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  • Teachers Appreciate Choice in Teachers Appreciate Choice in PD

    • From: Tiffany_Della_Vedova
    • Description:

      In a recent post, Personalizing Professional Development, I shared our plan to personalize an upcoming professional development day by having teachers indicate which target goal they wanted to focus on and what activities they would like to engage in to further their learning outcomes in that area. The experience proved largely successful and respectful of teacher autonomy and specialization. When we anonymously surveyed teachers to obtain their feedback, we were able to reflect on the effectiveness of the day and were even able to learn more about our individual team members. Here’s what we learned…

      • 100% of teachers found the experience at least as enjoyable or more enjoyable than a more traditional professional development experience, with 85% of teachers reporting a more enjoyable experience. Many expressed gratitude for the ability to customize the day with comments such as this one: “Thank you so much for the opportunity to tailor the PD to our individual goals. The time allowed me to really focus and make progress on the goals I set earlier this year. It felt positive and productive.”

      • 100% of teachers found the experience at least as valuable or more valuable than a more traditional PD day, with 78% of teachers indicating a more valuable outcome.

      • Preparation was key for the greatest outcome. One teacher shared the benefit of pre-planning, “I feel the planning for the day went well. We were able to meet prior to our trip off campus, allowing us to set goals for the day. We also met after the experience to discuss the experience and work on putting a plan in action” while another pointed to the need for more pto maximize the experience, “The only change to our experience could have been a little (30-minutes) pre-planning so we could have hit the ground running.”

      • Some teachers indicated the value of both types of experiences in reflections such as, “The reason I chose "about the same" is I think our PD's this year have been very good!” A few even suggested that having an option of a more traditional workshop as a learning path on a choice-based day would be helpful “in case plans fall through” or simply because they enjoy shared learning, “It would have been nice to have one topic/ article to discuss and learn together as a team.

      As an leadership team, we are very grateful for the reflective feedback. It was clear that teachers put in a great deal of thought into their responses, and we plan on incorporating some of the great ideas into our next professional development day.


      I’m inspired to continue searching for innovative, personalized approaches to professional development. It seems that the more validated people feel in their professional endeavors and the more opportunity they have to engage in meaningful, passion-based learning, the more invigorated about their profession they feel. For teachers, as winter endures and the year grows longer, energy is especially precious!

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    • 1 month ago
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  • Leader to Leader News: Februar Leader to Leader News: February 2014

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

      ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail toconstituentservices@ascd.org.


      Action Items for ASCD Leaders

      • Join the ASCD Forum conversationFrom now through April 11, ASCD invites educators worldwide to join a conversation on the topic, “How do wecultivate and support teacher leaders?” Learn more at www.ascd.org/ascdforum.
      • ASCD Emerging Leader Program applications are openNominate a colleague; we are accepting applications until April 1.
      • Presenting at ASCD Annual Conference?Send your session number to constituentservices@ascd.org by March 3 for inclusion in a special ASCD Annual Conference L2L newsletter. We’ll highlight your session so that your fellow ASCD leaders know to come out and support you!



      ASCD Nominations Committee Selects Candidates for ASCD Board of Directors

      In January 2014, the 2014 ASCD Nominations Committee selected five candidates to run for two open positions on the Board of Directors in the next General Membership Election. Those five individuals are Tony Frontier (Wisc.), Josh Garcia (Wash.), Patrick Miller (N.C.), Lorraine Ringrose (Alberta, Canada), and Anne Roloff (Ill.). The election process will open on April 1 and will run through May 15.


      ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda

      The key priority for ASCD in 2014 is to promote multimetric accountability so that standardized test scores are not the sole measure of student achievement, educator effectiveness, or school quality. Multimetric accountability systems must

      • Promote continuous support and improvement.
      • Be public and transparent.
      • Include a range of subjects beyond English language arts and mathematics.
      • Incorporate important nonacademic factors such as measures of school climate, safety, and parental engagement.

      The 2014 Legislative Agenda (PDF) contains four policy recommendations:

      • A Well-Rounded Education: All students deserve comprehensive and engaging opportunities that prepare them for college and careers and to be active, productive citizens.
      • Conditions for Learning: Students need a strong foundation of support—including in-school social and emotional learning and meaningful parental and community engagement—to attain their full potential.
      • Multimetric Accountability: Standardized tests should never be the primary measure of student or educator proficiency; instead, accountability systems must include a range of subjects and promote continuous support for growth.
      • Developing Educator Effectiveness: Continuous educator preparation and professional development must provide personalized support that recognizes educators’ strengths and enhances their growth.


      ASCD Educators Connect the Classroom to the Capitol

      Educators throughout the United States recently convened in Washington, D.C., to attend ASCD’s legislative conference, the Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy (LILA). Attendees had the opportunity to meaningfully network with colleagues, build knowledge to expand their personal influence, and hear from top education thought leaders including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who urged attendees to “seize the day.” Duncan also commended ASCD and its members for “walking the walk when it comes to professional development,” helping classroom teachers and schools leaders commit to a “rich, well-rounded, rigorous education.”

      If you were unable to attend this year, see LILA’s storify collection—which brings together your colleagues’ pictures, tweets, and reflections. ASCD Emerging Leader alum Hannah Gbenro also shared her reflections in an ASCD EDge® post Educational Advocacy: Why and How.

      Other conference highlights:

      • Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute delivered a provocative keynote address during which he encouraged advocacy and offered attendees advice to improve their meetings with policymakers, from beginning meetings with a positive attitude and presuming the reasonableness of elected leaders to offering workable solutions and compromises instead of only raising issues and complaints.
      • With bipartisan panels of congressional staffers and policy experts, attendees learned about the pessimistic outlook for Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization.
      • In interactive skill-building sessions, attendees walked through the steps to developing a personalized advocacy message using ASCD’s 2014 Legislative Agenda (PDF) along with their own examples and data. Attendees then took their messages to Capitol Hill, where they met with their federal policymakers to share policy recommendations for improving education.

      Access follow-up resources from the conference, including more detailed policy recommendations and an overview of the legislative agenda.


      ASCD Emerging Leader is Facilitator of New Professional Interest Community

      Congratulations to ASCD Emerging Leader Jill Thompson, facilitator of ASCD’s newest Professional Interest Community on the topic of personalized learning. Please join the Personalized Learning group on the ASCD EDge platform to stay connected on this important topic.




      Join the ASCD Forum Conversation on Teacher Leadership

      The ASCD Forum is the chance for educators to make their voices heard on a topic of worldwide importance. From January 15 to April 11, ASCD invites all educators to explore the question through online and face-to-face discourse, “How do we cultivate and support teacher leaders?”

      To learn more about the ASCD Forum:

      To join the conversation:

      Join the ASCD EDge® group and respond to the comments from other educators.

      Read and comment on these blog posts:

      Follow the conversation on Twitter at #ASCDForum.


      Write your own blog post on the topic of teacher leadership. Here’s how.


      Join us at ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles at session #2124 hosted by ASCD President Becky Berg on Sunday, March 16, 8:00–9:30 a.m. pacific time.


      As the most active leaders in the association, you are integral to the success of this conversation. Your leadership helps set an example for others to make their voices heard. Please join the discussion on teacher leadership!


      ASCD Leader Voices


      Association News

      ASCD Releases 2014 PD Online® Course Catalog for K–12 Educators—ASCD announced the release of the 2014 PD Online course catalog. The new catalog offers more than 100 user-friendly courses developed by ASCD authors and experts available anytime, anywhere to educators, including 21 new PD Online courses. PD Online courses are developed to help educators increase their knowledge and discover best practice methods. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Announces Expanded On-Site and Blended Professional Learning Services Offerings—ASCD announced the new ASCD Professional Learning Services, enabling more school districts nationwide to receive greater customized professional development from the association. The ASCD Professional Learning Services offerings are customizable based on the needs of a district or school and are available in on-site or blended solutions. Read the full press release. Read the full press release.

      2014 ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show Set to Host Sessions Focused on Technology, Leadership, Common Core Implementation, and More—ASCD announced the full schedule of events for the upcoming 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The upcoming conference will be held March 15–17 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, Calif. Attendees will learn ideas and best-practice strategies that drive student achievement while unlocking ways to boost teacher and leadership effectiveness. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications to Transform Learning—ASCD announced the release of four new professional development titles for educators. As educators face new standards and classroom challenges, they will find solutions for prioritizing school improvement efforts, working with difficult students, bringing joy into teaching and learning, and teaching vocabulary effectively in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Brings Spring and Summer Common Core Professional Development Institutes to New Cities in 2014—ASCD announced the lineup of one- and two-day Professional Development Institutes for the spring and summer. Expanding to eight new cities, ASCD’s institutes are designed to provide greater support to educators nationwide as they continue to implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), while meeting educators where they are. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Releases 2014 Legislative Agenda, Calls for Increased Multimetric Accountability—ASCD released its 2014 Legislative Agenda on Monday, January 27th, at the association’s Leadership Institute for Legislative Advocacy in Washington, D.C. Developed by the association’s Legislative Committee—a diverse cross section of ASCD members representing the entire spectrum of K–12 education—the 2014 ASCD Legislative Agenda outlines the association’s federal policy priorities for the year. Read the full press release.




    • Blog post
    • 2 months ago
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  • Authority Means Never Having t Authority Means Never Having to Say You're the Teacher

    • From: Mindy_Keller-Kyriakides
    • Description:

      Recently, I worked with some secondary educators who were interested in developing behavioral strategies for their more difficult students, particular as it pertained to students’ disrespect of the teachers.  I observed several classes over the span of a semester, and I noticed that many teachers would state the obvious in an attempt to gain control of their classes. They would say things like, “I am the teacher, and this is my class. You cannot talk to me that way.”


      This approach didn’t stop students’ disrespectful behavior; if anything, the interruptions, talking back, mocking, and mumbling escalated. Further, those teachers struggling the most with student behavior made these statements more often than their counterparts who were having less trouble. So, why did they resort to stating the obvious? Why does a teacher feel the need to proclaim that he or she is the teacher when responding to student disrespect?


      These statements (coined as authority statements by Laitin, 1977) seem to be offered as a justification for making the corrective statement that follows. The underlying thinking seems to be — Because I’m the teacher and you are the student, you need to stop doing X and/or start doing Y an overt reminder that one of you is a subordinate.  


      However, the use of explicit authority statements is ineffective. They work a lot like “but” statements: I love you, but you’re too impulsive.  The listener only hears you’re too impulsive; the but negates the I love you.  Similarly, explicitly stating your obvious and inherently authoritative role negates the more important information that follows it: I am the teacher. I am trying to teach. You keep interrupting me.  Adolescent students probably don’t hear the important part (you keep interrupting me) over the sound of their eyes rolling. 


      Imagine your principal telling you: I am the principal, and I want everyone on board for the roll-out of this new system.  Wouldn’t you kind of get stuck on the idea of the principal making a hoopla about being the principal?     


      The use of this phrasing comes across as weak and ineffectual.  No wonder students just smirk or yawn when they hear it. If you’ve reached that level of frustration and start spouting out the obvious, consider that what you’re really doing (most likely) is reminding yourself that you’re in charge.


      Stop saying you’re the teacher and go for the nub.

      What do you want the student to do or not do?


      Teachers using explicit authority statements may not realize the greater effectiveness of simply implying them. Harmin and Toth (2006) define authority statements as “making a simple direct statement of our authority as teachers” (p. 439).  The following are some examples in their Inspiring Active Learning handbook for educators:


               I do not want even minor distractions or disruptions in our lessons.

               I need you to stop talking to your neighbors. It’s time to control that.

              We do not do that here. (Harmin & Toth, 2006, pp. 111-112)


      These examples differ from explicit authority statements in that no explicit mention of the role of teacher is made. Though Harmin and Toth’s (2006) definition states that the statement is of our authority, these examples more aptly reflect a statement from our authority.  This distinction is important. We don't have to say it. We just have to be it. Implying authority carries more weight, and though decidedly unspoken in the examples above, “I am the teacher” is nonetheless clearly asserted.


      Words matter, and what we say conveys how we feel about ourselves and our role in the classroom. You don’t have to say you’re the teacher.  You are.


      Mirror Site



      Harmin, M., & Toth, M. (2006). Inspiring active learning: A complete handbook for today's teachers (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.


      Laitin, D. D. (1977).  Politics, language, and thought: The Somali experience. Chicago, IL:  University of Chicago Press.


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    • 3 months ago
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  • Leader to Leader News: January Leader to Leader News: January 2014

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

       ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to constituentservices@ascd.org. Copyright 2013 by ASCD. All Rights Reserved.

      Action Items for ASCD Leaders


      ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative Has a New Twitter Handle

      ASCD's Whole Child Initiative switched its official Twitter handle to @WholeChildASCD. Themore than 15,000 followers of the old @WholeChildAdv do not have to do anything to keep following the initiative’s Twitter account; current followers have automatically been moved to the new handle. In addition, individuals trying to contact ASCD under the old account will be directed to the new Twitter handle: @WholeChildASCD. The initiative encourages whole child enthusiasts to follow the new handle to stay up-to-date on whole child issues and partner activities. Anyone who has questions about the twitter handle should contact Kristen Pekarek, ASCD’s whole child project coordinator.


      Sign on to the Global School Health Statement

      Schools have always played an important role in promoting the health, safety, welfare, and social development of children. Progress has been made in policy and program effectiveness. However, the trend of establishing initiatives as sector specific—or sector isolated—has affected long-term sustainability of approaches. The global evolution of education systems to suit the needs of the 21st century presents both a need and an opportunity for greater sector integration. Ultimately, there is a need to focus on the development and growth of the whole child and develop better ways to integrate health and social programs within education systems.

      In response to the World Health Organization’s Health in All Policies (HiAP) initiative and recent HiAP statement (Helsinki 2013), education leaders invite representatives from the health and other social sectors to lead a revised partnership with education. This partnership uses a capacity-focused and systems-based approach to embed school-related efforts more fully into the core mandates, constraints, processes, and concerns of education systems.

      ASCD and the International School Health Network are now inviting individuals and organizations to sign on to the global school health statement. Learn more.


      Can’t Wait for #ASCD14?

      How about some free sessions from the 2013 ASCD Annual Conference to tide you over?

      Check out the live-streamed recordings of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Freeman Hrabowski III, and Maya Angelou from last year’s conference.

       Register for the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference.


      ASCD Members Approve Proposed Changes to ASCD’s Constitution

      ASCD members recently voted to approve several changes to ASCD’s Constitution: clarifyinga quorum for Board of Directors for voting purposes at the Annual Meeting; changing the start date for newly elected officers and members of the Board; and changing the ASCD membership requirement for applicants for Board positions. Contact Governance Manager Becky DeRiggewith any questions.


       ASCD Emerging Leaders: 2013 Recap

      Check out our recap of all the amazing things ASCD emerging leaders did in 2013. We’re looking forward to some great things in 2014 as well!


       ASCD Leader Voices




      Throughout January at wholechildeducation.org: Personalized Learning

      How do we help each student succeed? One promising way is to personalize learning and put each student at the center of her learning experience. Broader than individualized or differentiated instruction, personalized learning is driven by the learner. Ensuring personalized learning for all students requires a shift in thinking about long-standing education practices, systems and policies, as well as significant changes in the tools and resources. To address students’ abilities, interests, styles, and performance, schools need to rethink curricula, instruction, and technology tools to support giving learners choices and schools flexibility.

      Personalized learning has been described as learning that takes place “anywhere, anytime, and anyplace.” More importantly, it has the promise to ensure equity, engagement, ownership, and achievement for each child, in each school, and in each community so that she is college, career, and citizenship ready and prepared for success in our global, knowledge-based society.

      Download two Whole Child Podcasts discussing personalizing learning for students—one is a special one-on-one conversation between professor and author Yong Zhao and ASCD’s Sean Slade, and the other podcast has a panel of educators featuring guests Jennifer Eldredge, a Spanish teacher at Oconomowoc High School whose district is a member of the regional Cooperative Educational Service Agency #1, which is committed to establishing personalized learning as the prevailing approach in southeastern Wisconsin; Andrew Miller, former classroom and online teacher and current education consultant, ASCD Faculty member, National Faculty member at the Buck Institute for Education, and regular ASCD and Edutopia blogger; and Beth Sanders, a high school social studies teacher at Tarrant High School in Alabama who is also the cofounder and codirector of Youth Converts Culture and was named an Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013 and 2013 Teacher of the Year for Tarrant City Schools.

      Throughout the month, read the Whole Child Blog and tell us what has worked in your school and with your students. E-mail us and share resources, research, and examples.



      Something to Talk About

      Top 10 ASCD EDge blog posts of 2013

      Top 5 Whole Child blog posts of 2013

      Mostclicked stories from ASCD SmartBrief


      Association News

      ASCD Invites Educator-Driven Conversation with the ASCD Forum and #ASCDEdSpace—ASCD announces two new ways for educators to shape teacher leadership. From now through April 11, 2014, educators are encouraged to participate in the ASCD Forum online via the ASCD EDge® social networking community and in-person at the 69th ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. Read the full press release.


      ASCD’s Newest Professional Development Publications Support Effective Instruction—ASCD announced the release of three new professional development titles for educators. As educators face increasing pressure on assessments and testing, they will find support for structured teaching, self-regulated learning, and assigning and assessing 21st century work in these new professional development publications. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Announces Updates to Free EduCore™ Common Core Implementation Tool—ASCD announced new features available on its free Common Core implementation tool ASCD EduCore™. For the new year, the updated EduCore website features simpler navigation and expanded resources. Read the full press release.


      ASCD to Live Stream 21 Sessions from 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show—ASCD will live stream  21 sessions from the association’s 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibit Show. The live stream option offers global educators an accessible and affordable alternative to attending ASCD’s 2014 Annual Conference. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Joins Instagram as @OfficialASCD—ASCD has joined the social network Instagram under the username @officialascd. ASCD’s Instagram profile will show educators worldwide a behind-the-scenes look at ASCD, while providing free motivation and professional development through pictures and videos. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Releases Four New Professional Development Publications for the New Year—ASCD released four new professional development titles for educators. In light of pressing issues facing educators today, such as improving stagnant Programme for International Student Assessment scores, implementing the new Common Core State Standards, and improving teacher effectiveness, these four new ASCD publications offer educators support with getting to the root of academic and behavioral issues, working with English language learners, developing effective school rules, and teaching effectively. Read the full press release.


      ASCD Expands Emerging Leader Program to Serve More Young Educators—ASCD is pleased to announce the expansion of the ASCD Emerging Leaders program. The two-year Emerging Leaders program is designed to prepare younger, diverse educators for potential influence and ASCD leadership. The expanded program now enrolls more educators, inducting a larger membership class than ever before, and includes an Emerging Leaders Grant opportunity that will award selected participants in their second year of the program with grants of up to $2,000. Read the full press release.




    • Blog post
    • 3 months ago
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  • PD: Same Old, Same Old. PD: Same Old, Same Old.

    • From: Tom_Whitby
    • Description:

      On January 15, 2014 my Blog will be three years old. With this post included I have written 223 posts just for my blog. In addition, I have done several dozen guest posts for other blogs. On a week-to-week basis I strive to write something new about education, or at least a new take on an old subject, but there are some subjects that linger with very little change.

      Social media’s influence in education is a great example of slow change under the influence social media itself on education. The acceptance of social media in our culture has allowed social media’s slow acceptance into our school system as a source of branding, collaboration, and communication. The idea of blanket banning of students and teachers from all social media, although, unbelievably, still existing in some less enlightened districts, has been a declining practice. There are far fewer posts about that narrowly considered practice. At least this is progress.

      Technology’s acceptance in education however, seems to be a never-ending subject amongst bloggers. Many refer to the fear factor involved with educators and technology. I do not understand what there is to fear from technology. It is what we all depend on to drive our civilization at this point. It is part of our world, and will continue to be so into the future. Our kids will use it and rely on it more than we do, as we used it and relied on it more than our parents did.

      There is no longer a choice as to whether or not educators should incorporate technology tools for learning into education. That boat has sailed, that train left the station, that genie is out of the bottle, and that horse got out of the barn. Time to close that barn door and get on with it.

      If there is nothing to fear about technology, why are so many educators fearful of it? I have often read that there is a technophobia among some educators. Could it be a fear of being replaced by a computer? I doubt it, because educated adults, especially educators, should be able to recognize that as a myth perpetrated by science fiction. Computers cannot replace teachers, but they can make teachers more effective and efficient.

      I think the real pushback on technology from educators comes not from fear, but rather a reluctance to give up time and effort to have to learn something else. Teaching is not an easy job to begin with. It requires not only subject or content knowledge, but education knowledge as well. It requires mastery of two areas and that comes with a price. It requires more than a specialized degree, but additionally, an ongoing struggle to stay relevant in a society that is undergoing continual change at an ever-increasing rapid pace. Learning about technology and how to incorporate it into learning specific to one’s class may be a bridge too far for many educators.

      This dilemma, as pervasive as it seems to be, is not totally the fault of the educators. Many educators have taken to learning on their own. They have personalized their learning to address their needs, as well as the needs of their students. As educators we know that self-motivation in learning is not a common commodity. It also holds true for educators who are learners as well.

      If our education system requires that our educators maintain their relevance through education than the system should have a responsibility to provide the support and security to do so in terms of time and access to learning. Professional Development needs to be more than an occasional workshop that can then be checked off of an Administrator’s list of things that need to be done for the year. PD must be prioritized and supported on an ongoing basis. It must be part of the workweek. In addition to providing access to new ideas, technology, and methodology, time must be afforded for educators to collaborate on what they have learned. Educators need time and support to put into practice what they need to learn.

      In an ideal world every educator would pursue relevance on their own as life long learners. They would seek out the latest and greatest methods and technologies to enhance their teaching and all would benefit. All would be right with the world. Unfortunately for us, we do not live in that world. Educators are strapped for time and money as much as anyone else. Fear of learning something new is far less a factor than time or inclination to do so. If we want to incent people to learn more, we need to prioritize it with time and money. It always comes down to this.

      Professional Development for educators for the most part has been left to the individual educators. The hours spent on PD are often mandated by the district, or state and described in teacher contracts, but the learning often comes at the expense of the educator. This is a model that does not work. We are a system obsessed with assessments, yet we fail to assess many of the things that would really make a difference. Try assessing the effectiveness of PD in a district. Is it making a difference to the entire system, or are only a few educators benefitting? If your system’s method of PD does not do what PD is supposed to do, then maybe you need to change the way you are doing it.

    • Blog post
    • 4 months ago
    • Views: 116

    • From: Amelia_Hicks
    • Description:


      I would like to invite principals to participate in a special survey to add to the existing research on principals and how they are supported. 

      Models of Support for New Principals/Administrators 

      There is an increased emphasis on the effectiveness of principal leadership with new research showing that principals are second to the teacher in improving student achievement. Support is important for principals to be effective instructional leaders. This survey focuses on what models of support are available to principals and other administrators as they serve in their leadership roles. 

      If you are a principal/other administrator please participate by clicking on the following link. 


    • Blog post
    • 6 months ago
    • Views: 67
  • Evaluations, Observations, and Evaluations, Observations, and Instructional Rounds

    • From: Nancy_Hahn
    • Description:

      This blog will share my experiences this year with all the ways I am observed and evaluated and how I make use of the growth-producing feedback to build my teaching effectiveness. Not sure where it will go, but it will be honest.  Friday was my first PPP - Professional Practice Plan - meeting. This meeting with my principal, assistant principal, peer evaluator, master teacher, instructional coach (Oh, gosh - Was there anyone else?) was to review my evaluation from last year, discuss my strengths and weaknesses, set a working goal, and create a plan for reaching it.

      Background... Colorado begins using a statewide teacher-effectiveness system this year. 50% of a teacher's effectiveness comes from measurements of student growth, 50% from the teacher's professional practices as measured by the Teacher Rubric. It effectively negates the tenure system. Teachers in my school, because we are part of a Strategic Compensation grant, used the teacher rubric for evaluations last year. I have been teaching for 15 years. Last year was the first time my evaluation was not terrific. It was kind of ugly. I got angry, then I got past being angry, since that helps nothing. It's a new year.

      The PPP meeting consisted of questions and discussion aimed at allowing me to talk through what I want to focus on, setting some action steps, and deciding what evaluators will look for in the classroom to notice if I'm reaching the goal. My focus area is in Professional Techniques - a. communicates to students expectations for learning. My specific focus is around the daily learning goal with the expectation that students will be able to tell an observer what the goal is, why it matters, and how what they are doing builds toward the goal. The meeting was very positive, but still rather overwhelming. My final statement about last year's evaluation was, "What if last years evaluation was accurate? Then I will work hard to build the skills to be the best teacher for my students, What if the evaluation was inaccurate? Then I work hard to continue to build skills to be the best teacher for my students. No real difference." I'm ready to be practically perfect - my goal!

    • Blog post
    • 7 months ago
    • Views: 82
  • I Think I Must Have the “Back- I Think I Must Have the “Back-to-School Blues”

    • From: Craig_Mertler
    • Description:


      I mean, what else could explain this lack of excitement I feel, as the days of summer begin to wind down?  Normally, this time of year brings to me a renewed sense of enthusiasm.  Maybe it was because my summer was a little “turbulent,” but I don’t think that’s the root cause of my blues.  I think it might have something to do with the following story I read last week:


      A local elementary has received sub-par scores on the statewide reading test.  They are now being required to add 1 hour to the length of each school day for the entire 2013-2014 academic year, in order to focus on additional reading instruction.


      Geez, I need to try to understand this.  Let me see if I’ve got this right.  So, we’re going to take kids--between the ages of 6 and 12--and add 5 hours per week to the amount of time they spend in school, right?  Instead of 7 hours each day, they’ll now spend 8 hours in school each day.  Now, on the surface, this sounds great:


      More instructional time




      Academic gains




      Improved test scores


      But, let’s think a little deeper about this.  What do you suppose will be the quality of the reading instruction that takes place during that additional hour at the end of the day?  Kids will be tired; adults will be tired.  Is it reasonable to expect that simply adding more time will automatically lead to more academic improvement?  I honestly don’t think so.


      Maybe the idea is that enhanced/supplemented reading instruction will occur in the mornings.  However, if that’s the case, something’s still got to give during that last additional hour of the day, when kids and teachers are exhausted.


      This “solution” worries me, especially when we have other alternatives.  I respectfully raise the fact that, perhaps, the issue should not be the quantity of instructional time, but rather the quality of instructional time.  What about exploring any of the following?

      • How is reading instructional time is currently structured?
      • What is the effectiveness of the supplemental materials used to support the reading instruction?
      • What is the nature of the general instructional methods used in the school?
      • To what extent is reading supported across the curriculum?
      • The list could go on and on...


      What about the possibility of exploring alternative structures to the things I’ve listed above?  Further, what about the possibility of engaging in schoolwide, collaborative action research as a mechanism to explore the effectiveness of current practices and evaluate the potential power of alternatives to current practice?  There simply is not enough of this type of reflective teacher inquiry into professional practice as a means of solving the educational problems that we face in today’s classrooms and schools.  We absolutely need more of this kind of empowered thinking in our schools if we truly intend on finding effective ways to improve the system of education in our country.


    • Blog post
    • 8 months ago
    • Views: 150
  • Purpose + Alignment = Success Purpose + Alignment = Success

    • From: Adrian_Bertolini
    • Description:

      Many years ago when I used to teach engineering at university I had a passing interest in the field of shape optimization. It was a fascinating field because the idea of optimization in my particular area of expertise revolved around designing software that could optimize the placement of material so that, for given forces and stresses, the software would design the best and lightest shape of an object to withstand the given input.


      It was interesting to watch how the material thickness flowed during the optimization process until the final shape was reached. The optimized shape would then represent the strongest yet lightest shape that would account for all the input conditions. Different input data would result in different shapes and the more accurate and representative the input data was the better and more practical the optimized shape became.

      I bring this up because I was pondering recently what our education system, schools, and teaching is optimized for?

      Let’s do a bit of a thought experiment to explore our thinking for a moment. 


      Imagine that we had the opportunity to begin from nothing and design an education system from the ground up.


      Firstly, we must decide upon the input conditions. What will the education system be for? Will it be to prepare students for an every changing world where we don’t know what jobs they will be doing? Will it be to get them into university or college? Will it be to prepare them to be good citizens? Will it prepare them to be spiritual or respectful? Will it prepare them to follow rules and laws? Will it prepare them to be factory workers? Will it prepare them to do a trade? Will it prepare them to think in particular ways? Will the education system be a place that keeps them out of the way until they become adults?


      You can probably add much more to that list and feel free to. However, you may notice that many are not mutually exclusive and all represent some of what we want the education system to do. And, much like optimization in my engineering example, differing input conditions will result in a different education system. I think that whatever we decide upon as the purpose for an education system it should cater for the current societal needs but also represent the most complete far-seeing future that would set up each individual for a positive and productively just world.

      Once we have chosen the purpose we could then begin to optimize the structure of that education system to be able to most effectively deliver the purpose we have designed.

      To accomplish the purpose of education over the time an individual is in the system would it require funding, schools, teachers, technology? How would we design funding for it? Who would have a say about its design, etc.? What evidence would we look at to support decisions that are made? What would ‘schools’ look like? Would we even have these things called schools? Would we have timetables? Classes? What would learning look like? Would it look differently at different developmental stages of the individuals? How would we cater for the spectrum of learners? How would it cater for different availability of resources? How could we cater for people of different cultural backgrounds?

      The optimization would begin with the overall goal / purpose in mind and then each sub-section below it can be optimized for local conditions but still fulfilling the overall purpose. As localized input conditions change so will the structure. This naturally points to the system needing to be self-reflective and adaptable but consciously and intentionally aligned to fulfill a purpose.

      So what is the point of this thought experiment?

      Well, it is rare for any country to sit down with a blank sheet and do this work. I can count on one hand how many countries have deliberately done this. If you do a little digging you will find those that have done something similar to this thought experiment are the ones at the top of the PISA rankings. Most countries try to patch something on to old way of doing things and have competing purposes and structures. There is no reinvention or transformation – just Band-Aids and wastage. I am also aware that those that have the say in designing the education systems of a country quite often are not driven by a clear vision but by competing demands that have nothing to do with creating a clear vision. Setting out with a clear goal does make a profound difference.

      Secondly, I find that it is also rare for schools to do this work. Again you will find that schools that have created a clear purpose then have aligned their school structures to fulfill their chosen purpose will be palpably great learning cultures where staff, students and the community are in alignment. They will also perform effectively against all measures and will adapt well to changing conditions.

      Many schools and their internal structures occur as a hodge-podge of ideas and structures with little integrity or alignment to deliver a particular purpose. There are staff holding out and hiding out – doing their own thing. There are inefficient professional development structures – ideas and leadership are not enhanced and grown. There may even be pockets of distrust between staff and leadership. Regardless of what the Education SYSTEM does a school can be internally focused and aligned. This makes a profound difference in and of itself.

      Finally, I also suggest that it is rare for teachers to do this work for themselves. In other words, identifying what is their purpose then how are they going to align their structures and the creation of learning for their students given the external forces they face so they can accomplish their purpose. Masterful teachers are constantly adapting and developing themselves to do this. Again, regardless of the eduction system and a school and teacher can be internally focused and aligned.

      I invite you to consider that in many education systems, schools and the way that teaching staff relate to their environment there isn’t enough alignment. Research shows that greater effectiveness can arise when there is greater alignment. You may not be able to change the education system or the way the school can operate at the moment, but how can you align yourself and your structures to more effectively accomplish your purpose for being a teacher or a school?

      Unless you are consistently reflecting and aligning yourself and your structures to deliver your purpose as conditions change then bit by bit you are devolving your capacity to perform. At best you will become mediocre. At worst, counterproductive.

      If you are a good school and interested in being a great school – the key is to create a coherent purpose and then alignment of structures throughout the school to achieve that purpose. If you are a good teacher and interested in being a great teacher then reflect and begin aligning yourself to your vision and what you are really out to create for your students and education as a whole. What you will find is that life and work will become much more purposeful and clear for you.

      It's a start!

    • Blog post
    • 9 months ago
    • Views: 1529

    • From: Craig_Mertler
    • Description:



      I wanted to take a brief moment to introduce my new venture to any and all who read my blog:  an educational consulting company, ready and open for business!  The name of my consulting company is MERTLER EDUCATIONAL CONSULTING, LLC.  

      Services include the following:

      Professional development training in the following areas:

      1. Action research (especially as applied to the implementation of the Common Core State Standards)

      2. Data-driven decision making

      3. Assessment literacy

      4. Classroom assessment techniques

      5. Interpreting standardized test score for instructional improvement

      Consultative services related to the following:

      1. Research design, instrument development, and data collection and analysis that may or may not be related to grant-funded projects

      2. Action research initiatives

      3. Program evaluation

      4. Student assessment systems

      Speaking services, including:

      1. Keynote addresses

      2. Inservice professional development presentations


      Please check out the MEC web site by clicking here (where you can also find a downloadable brochure).

      Here’s what a couple of former clients have said about the services provided by MEC:

      “Dr. Mertler has helped me and my staff understand how the action research process, formative assessments, and teacher leadership play a key role in educating our students.  He takes what educators often look at as being complicated tasks and helps paint a clear picture of how systems can be used within schools to improve student achievement.  Working with Dr. Mertler has given me the confidence in working with both data and people that my college courses never provided.”




      “Dr. Craig Mertler is a leader and ‘architect’ in the field of action research.  I was fortunate to work with Dr. Mertler for two years as he mentored me through a year-long action research course and led me through the dissertation process.  His style focuses on novel research, continuous improvement, and educator empowerment.  His cyclical application of action research serves as a guide that can be used to improve the educational practices and processes of teachers, administrators, district personnel, and researchers.  Without reservation, I would recommend Dr. Mertler’s services to anyone and any school looking to advance the quality of their work.”




      The web site includes more testimonials from current and past clients.

      Consider contacting me today, so we can begin to explore collaborative projects that will enhance the effectiveness of your school or other educational institution!!

    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 119
  • 12 Steps to Keeping Our Studen 12 Steps to Keeping Our Students Safe

    • From: Carol_Hunter
    • Description:


      After each atrocity in our schools, dialogue about “increasing school safety” is heightened. The focus is usually on implementing a variety of new controls and punishments. Do our students feel safer if they have passed through a metal detector? Do they feel safer if there are policies and procedures in place about weapons? Do they feel safer if there are anti-bullying policies in their schools? I don’t believe these measures do much to increase a real feeling of safety.

      What we need is a shared understanding of safe school culture and the knowledge of how to create the culture that makes our students feel truly safe and ready to learn.

      As principal of a large, inner-city, multicultural school in Ottawa, Canada, I led a team of dedicated teachers and educational support staff in creating a school where everyone felt safe and cared for, where everyone was engaged and empowered to become the best they could be, where bullying was almost non-existent, where students wanted to come to school and behavioral issues were at a minimum. This is not easier said than done. It is being done at many schools across North America. It can be done anywhere. How?

      At the risk of reducing something as important as personal safety and mental health to a list of actions, here are 12 suggestions of what we need to know, do and “be” to create safe and caring school cultures.

      1. Know that “school culture” is composed of people, processes and programs.For example, people must treat one another with mutual respect and a sense of shared responsibility. Everyone should have an optimistic feeling that they can be successful when empowered and supported to be the best they can be. Anti-bullying policies and procedures must be in place and their effectiveness must be tracked. Student-led programs such as mentoring and conflict resolution should be in place.

      2. Know the power of building personal connections within our schools and our communities. Students should be connected to one another through group projects, mentoring younger students and working together to make a difference in their local and global communities. Parents must be fully engaged in their child’s learning.

      3. Know that “test scores” will not rise if our students do not feel safe and cared for at school. Commit to moving well beyond teaching strategies and narrowly focused teacher evaluation systems to gaining a full understanding of the impact that feeling safe has on the brain. Much like a hungry child not being able to learn, the brain of a child who does not feel safe is unable to maximize learning.

      4. Know that schools must address the safety needs of the whole child — social, emotional, physical and intellectual. Although metal detectors appear to address physical safety needs, they may negatively affect the emotional sense of safety.

      5. Define the culture you want in your school. Create a plan to make it happen and implement and monitor the plan. If you don’t actively address culture in your school, you will live within the default culture. This isn’t good enough.

      6. Create a culture that encourages engagement and empowerment. Within a shared understanding of purpose and goals, empower your students to engage fully in their own learning through providing choice and addressing individual learning strengths and styles.

      7. Implement whatever security procedures are necessary in a particular school community. Base this decision on risk assessment and an understanding that safety will never be guaranteed.

      8. Pay particular attention to those students who are slower to engage by maintaining open communication and building connections.

      9. Be present. Be visible and engaged in the life of your school. Live and breathe your mission, vision and values.

      10. Be positive. Believe that everyone wants to do a good job and make a difference. Support students and colleagues in doing so.

      11. Be real. Move well beyond “playing a role.” Feel safe in being yourself. Grow and learn every day.

      12. Care. We all care deeply about the students in our care. Unfortunately, politics and bureaucracy often get in the way. Don’t let that happen.

      If we focus on creating safe and caring cultures, bullying will diminish, mental health will improve, teen suicides will decrease and we will feel safer in our schools and in our lives. It’s the least we can do.

      This Blog was first published on SmartBlog on Education at http://smartblogs.com/education/2013/06/20/12-steps-to-keeping-students-safe/

      Carol Hunter is an award-winning, retired elementary-school principal and author of“Real Leadership Real Change”. She is president of Impact Leadership, a consulting company focused on bringing real change to public education.

    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 1299
  • How Districts are being Penny How Districts are being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish and Pound Foolish

    • From: Suzanne_Klein1
    • Description:

      Have you ever been asked to create curriculum when you felt like you went to school to teach?

      In an effort to save money, we have heard some districts are having teachers work collaboratively to design daily lessons for the Common Core. This poses a problem. When are teachers going to find time to create top notch Common Core lessons when they are in classrooms every day?

      There are two ways districts think they are saving money. One is they are trying to find free Common Core material for their teachers to use. The other is they are asking their teachers to be curriculum creators.  Now don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Districts might save one penny now, but waste pounds of pennies later on when they realize their plan to save money backfired. Read on to hear my opinions on why I believe districts should make curriculum decisions with their eyes wide open.

      Take out the “R” in FREE and you get FEE

      Upon further investigation into why a prestigious Michigan district did not choose WriteSteps, we uncovered the truth that the district went with a “free” resource. Denise Dusseau, WriteSteps’ Curriculum Creator, looked into the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) CCSS Units they went with. MAISA CCSS Units is an example of a consortium of school districts currently working to create writing units adhered to the Common Core Standards.

      Denise discovered that like with many things, when you take out the “R” in FREE, you get FEE.  The supposedly “free” writing units offered to schools actually require teachers to have the full version of Lucy Calkins in order to teach the complete MAISA lesson plans.  Therefore, if teachers do not have Lucy Calkins, they will have to take the time to create the lessons themselves. It’s like when your kids open their Christmas presents and are so excited to use them, only to discover you forgot to buy the AAA batteries!

      Plus she discovered the Common Cores are not even addressed in the pacing guides! I understand school districts are trying these free units in an effort to save money, but as the age old saying goes, “You get what you pay for!”

      Experiences and Observations from Creating Curriculum While in the Trenches

      I ran into numerous challenges when creating lesson plans collaboratively with my co-workers. Here is what I discovered:

      • Collaboration among teachers to create lessons involves a lot of work.
      • Different viewpoints are great, but I spent a lot of my time explaining why I chose a certain style of lesson to other teachers, and vice versa.
      • The variety of different teaching styles and opinions disrupted the flow and continuity for students.
      • I believe elementary teachers are taken advantage of. As a teacher I was a generalist and taught all the subjects. But, I think administrators assume we are specialists in all subjects. If a teacher agrees to be a curriculum creator for writing, will they also be asked to be curriculum creators for math, reading, spelling, science, and social studies?
      • While I was meeting, planning and creating, I couldn’t give my best to my students.


      Not all Teachers are Skilled at Creating Lesson Plans

      Let’s be honest. Some teachers love creating lesson plans and can whip up great lessons in no time! But what about the teacher that finds the process difficult and time consuming?  Compiling and creating lesson plans takes a lot of work. I know because it took me years of research and planning to create all of the lesson plans that were included in the original WriteSteps.  The time went by in a snap because of my passion for teaching writing. However, not all teachers want to spend countless hours outside of the classroom perfecting lessons on a subject they may not particularly be passionate about. Many teachers originally decided on their career paths because they are passionate about TEACHING, not creating lesson plans.

      The moral of this story is look before you leap! “Free” will most likely always equal fee in the end, whether it be a fee of money or a fee of time. If you try a free program, chances are you’re going to waste a year and discover that “free” really isn’t free, and you will be hunting for a different solution. Likewise, asking teachers to develop lesson plans to meet the Common Core Standards hurts their effectiveness to do what they do best, teach!

      With WriteSteps, teachers do not need to wonder if they are using the correct curriculum; it’s all there for them in the daily lesson plans that are provided. Teachers won’t have to struggle or stress about time when it comes to creating writing lessons mapped to meet the Common Core.  We aren’t free, but you will get more than what you paid for-confident writing teachers and strong student writers.




    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 201
    • Not yet rated
  • All Teachers Aren’t Cut Out to All Teachers Aren’t Cut Out to Be Curriculum Creators: How Districts are Being Penny Wise and Pound Foolish

    • From: Anjilla_Young
    • Description:

      Have you ever been asked to create curriculum when you felt like you went to school to teach?

      In an effort to save money, we have heard some districts are having teachers work collaboratively to design daily lessons for the Common Core. This poses a problem. When are teachers going to find time to create top notch Common Core lessons when they are in classrooms every day?

      There are two ways districts think they are saving money. One is they are trying to find free Common Core material for their teachers to use. The other is they are asking their teachers to be curriculum creators.  Now don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Districts might save one penny now, but waste pounds of pennies later on when they realize their plan to save money backfired. Read on to hear my opinions on why I believe districts should make curriculum decisions with their eyes wide open.

      Take out the “R” in FREE and you get FEE

      Upon further investigation into why a prestigious Michigan district did not choose WriteSteps, we uncovered the truth that the district went with a “free” resource. Denise Dusseau, WriteSteps’ Curriculum Creator, looked into the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA) CCSS Units they went with. MAISA CCSS Units is an example of a consortium of school districts currently working to create writing units adhered to the Common Core Standards.

      Denise discovered that like with many things, when you take out the “R” in FREE, you get FEE.  The supposedly “free” writing units offered to schools actually require teachers to have the full version of Lucy Calkins in order to teach the complete MAISA lesson plans.  Therefore, if teachers do not have Lucy Calkins, they will have to take the time to create the lessons themselves. It’s like when your kids open their Christmas presents and are so excited to use them, only to discover you forgot to buy the AAA batteries!

      Plus she discovered the Common Cores are not even addressed in the pacing guides! I understand school districts are trying these free units in an effort to save money, but as the age old saying goes, “You get what you pay for!”

      Experiences and Observations from Creating Curriculum While in the Trenches

      I ran into numerous challenges when creating lesson plans collaboratively with my co-workers. Here is what I discovered:

      • Collaboration among teachers to create lessons involves a lot of work.
      • Different viewpoints are great, but I spent a lot of my time explaining why I chose a certain style of lesson to other teachers, and vice versa.
      • The variety of different teaching styles and opinions disrupted the flow and continuity for students.
      • I believe elementary teachers are taken advantage of. As a teacher I was a generalist and taught all the subjects. But, I think administrators assume we are specialists in all subjects. If a teacher agrees to be a curriculum creator for writing, will they also be asked to be curriculum creators for math, reading, spelling, science, and social studies?
      • While I was meeting, planning and creating, I couldn’t give my best to my students.

       Not all Teachers are Skilled at Creating Lesson Plans

      Let’s be honest. Some teachers love creating lesson plans and can whip up great lessons in no time! But what about the teacher that finds the process difficult and time consuming?  Compiling and creating lesson plans takes a lot of work. I know because it took me years of research and planning to create all of the lesson plans that were included in the original WriteSteps.  The time went by in a snap because of my passion for teaching writing. However, not all teachers want to spend countless hours outside of the classroom perfecting lessons on a subject they may not particularly be passionate about. Many teachers originally decided on their career paths because they are passionate about TEACHING, not creating lesson plans.

      The moral of this story is look before you leap! “Free” will most likely always equal fee in the end, whether it be a fee of money or a fee of time. If you try a free program, chances are you’re going to waste a year and discover that “free” really isn’t free, and you will be hunting for a different solution. Likewise, asking teachers to develop lesson plans to meet the Common Core Standards hurts their effectiveness to do what they do best, teach!

      With WriteSteps, teachers do not need to wonder if they are using the correct curriculum; it’s all there for them in the daily lesson plans that are provided. Teachers won’t have to struggle or stress about time when it comes to creating writing lessons mapped to meet the Common Core.  We aren’t free, but you will get more than what you paid for-confident writing teachers and strong student writers.


    • Blog post
    • 10 months ago
    • Views: 234
    • Not yet rated
  • Refocus on the Learner Refocus on the Learner

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:


      Recently, I worked with Steve Hargadon of Classroom 2.0 at an educational conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Steve is a marvelous conversationalist and has fantastic stories to share.

      In the car on the way to the conference, Steve and I were discussing the “institution” of school and the “system” of school. The largest part of our conversation centered around the fact that we have, collectively as a nation, created a massive operation for educating children that does not work. Students are not graduating with the skills they need to be successful in the world they are graduating into. No surprise to many of you reading this--it isn’t “new” news. We know it’s not working.

      The “institution” is the bureaucratic, policy side of public education that demands that “each get some.” The “system” is the mechanism for delivering the “some” to all.  The good ideas that created the system and thus the institution around it are lost in the shuffle. Doing what’s best for kids and doing what’s fair for all have each become a separate megalopolis each on a separate continent.

      Education has become so institutionalized that the act of “doing” something equates to readiness for the next checked off item on the “to do” list of instructional practice. The ebb and flow of “doing” becomes the barometer for success as measured by standardized high stakes tests that, in one moment, assess a student’s ability to “do school,” measure a teacher’s effectiveness, and be a checks and balances sheet to maintain the system as directed by the institution.

      Note that in the previous paragraph, the word “learning” was not used. In a Huffington Post article from last March, Connie Yowell describes education as what institutions do and learning as what people do. What’s happening, though, is the system and the institution are methodically destroying learning. I think it’s high time we refocus on the learner.

      My friend and colleague Jennifer Borgioli recently wrote a piece for the Gotham Schools blog about standardized testing, in the wake of the recent Common Core aligned New York state tests. In the blog post, she describes learning as a construct. We can measure variables that indicate that learning is happening but cannot quantify the whole of what learning means. In Jen’s words, we can’t “pull out a child’s brain, slap it on a scale, and say, yup, they’ve learned this much.”

      The system and the institution would have you believe that it is possible to well quantify the learning with one high-stakes assessment that serves as a good indicator of year to year growth, how well a teacher teaches, and whether or not the school as a whole is an effective system. The problem is with the variables. In science, we draw conclusions based on the experimentation of one variable at a time, a process approach that helps winnow the possible outcomes of comparative observation. In our current model, the system and the institution are on a multi-variable train that not only amounts to bad science but, in turn, leads to bad practices.

      Case in point:  A few weeks ago, students in New York State took the first version of the new Common Core aligned tests. They were asked questions that were more rigorous than ever before in an attempt to measure the learning of the Common Core standards. The stories that came out of the woodwork over the course of the week involved students walking out of the test, kids crying, kids unable to finish, kids just giving up, etc. The test was designed to measure the degree to which the students met the Common Core standards. The test does not allow for variations in home environment, parental support, socioeconomic status, etc., all of which are variables that are not necessarily considered as important but in the end, majorly affect the data collected. (Other variables here would also include teacher support, teacher training, schools as systems supporting the standards versus pocket buy-in, etc.)

      The test was designed to evaluate the system and perpetuate the institution. The tests in other states that are being designed to evaluate the “learning” are all heading in the same direction.

      Do we want our students ready for college and careers? Absolutely.

      Do we want them ready to meet the challenges of the world they will graduate into? You betcha.

      Do we need assessment? Of course.

      Do we want them suffering through assessments that were designed with the institution/system rather than the child in mind? Not at all.

      Steve and I discussed how the people with the best ideas are usually not the ones running the companies that develop and market and sell the product that the idea people generated. Wonderful ideas are snagged up by companies or companies are created around them. In order to sell to the masses you need a system set up for production and delivery. You also need an institution to maintain and advance the ideas, normalizing everything for the benefit of impacting the most people possible to increase the bottom line over time.

      The problem though, lies in the fact that once the ideas/learning lose the focus of priority in favor of the system or the institution because of a mistaken belief that “some” of the original ideas are best for “most” in the system, the system falters. How well does that work when the institution or the system becomes the priority? You tell me: Polaroid. Enron. Commodore. Hollywood Video. Madoff Investment Securities. The list is long...

      Assessment is not bad. In a previous blog post, I wrote about why in the world we would practice for a game we never played or rehearse for a performance we never give? I also don’t disagree with checks and balances in the system, but the system must have integrity. That integrity lies in the priority of keeping the learner at the center. That means that we must not only find ways to more rationally assess students without causing complete psychological breakdowns on test days but also that we address some of the other variables that the system and the institution keep in the periphery, primarily poverty and family/environmental support.

      Hmmm. “Test days.” Now that I’ve said those words specifically, perhaps that’s the beginning of the new conversation. Instead of the grimness of the dark and scary hell week of assessments, perhaps we start looking at what can be embedded in instruction. Perhaps we look at leveraging opportunities for choice and differentiated products through performance tasks and problem-based scenarios that not only generate a product but also are a launching pad for the next learning moment. These aren’t new ideas. I’m not innovating here. I am talking about something though that is difficult for institutionalized implementation. It is difficult for systemic production and delivery. It’s expensive and messy and would involve much more local control.

      We can send a man to the moon but we are still having trouble negotiating the creation of a better assessment of student learning? I wonder how many one size fits all, end of the year, high stakes assessments those NASA engineers took before they were finally ready to, according to the system and the institution, design and implement their ideas? I wonder if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would have been comfortable putting their lives on the line for a bunch of scientists that did REALLY well on their one moment in time, end of year state tests?

      There are no easy answers here, I know that. But I also know that there are still kids at the heart of all of this. The institution and the system need to refocus on that. We have an unbelievable challenge and a massive obligation to get this right.


      Originally blogged on Smartblogs.com/education. Portions added.



      Follow Mike on Twitter

      Upgrade Your Curriculum now available at the ASCD Bookstore



    • Blog post
    • 11 months ago
    • Views: 1112
  • L2L News: May 2013 L2L News: May 2013

    • From: Meg_Cohen
    • Description:

      ASCD Leader to Leader (L2L) News is a monthly e-mail newsletter for ASCD constituent group leaders that builds capacity to better serve members, provides opportunities to promote and advocate for ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, and engages groups through sharing and learning about best practices. To submit a news item for the L2L newsletter, send an e-mail to constituentservices@ascd.org.


      Your To-Do List: Action Items for ASCD Leaders


      Newest Policy Points Revisits A Nation at Risk

      ASCD’s newest Policy Points (PDF) takes a closer look at A Nation at Risk, the 1983 report on the state of U.S. education that launched a spirited and ongoing debate about the quality of our public schools. This issue of Policy Points examines the specific recommendations of the report, the accuracy of its dire prediction about “a rising tide of mediocrity” undermining the nation’s well-being, and the evolving school reform debate the report kick-started three decades ago.


      Throughout May on www.wholechildeducation.org: The New Poverty

      In today’s global economic state, many families and children face reduced circumstances. These “poor kids” don’t fit the traditional stereotypes—two-thirds live in families in which at least one adult works and the percentage of poor students in many rural districts equals that in inner-city districts. In the United States, the economic downturn has dramatically changed the landscape, and districts that were previously vibrant are now dealing with unemployment, underemployment, and more transient families.

      Join us as we share what new—and old—solutions we are using to support learning and ensure that each child, whatever her circumstances, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

      Download the Whole Child Podcast for a discussion on the current economic downturn; its result that many families and children face reduced circumstances; and implications for schools, many of which have seen drastic changes in the populations they serve and their communities. Guests include Deborah Wortham, superintendent of the School District of the City of York, Pa., and former assistant superintendent for high schools and director of professional development for Baltimore City (Md.) Public Schools; Felicia DeHaney, president and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute; William Parrett, director of the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies and professor of education at Boise State University;  and Kathleen Budge, coordinator of the Leadership Development Program  and associate professor in the Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies Department at Boise State University. Parrett and Budge are also coauthors of the 2012 ASCD book Turning High-Poverty Schools into High-Performing Schools.

      Throughout the month, read the Whole Child Blog and tell us what has worked in your school and with your students. E-mail us and share resources, research, and examples.


      ASCD Leader Voices


      Arkansas Governor Signs Whole Child Legislation

      Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe signed a new bill into law that promotes a whole child approach to educating the state’s children. The legislation (PDF) establishes a Whole Child Whole Community recognition program and aims to measure the comprehensive well-being of children and how well stakeholders are meeting their needs according to the five whole child tenets and their indicators as identified by ASCD.

      The recognition program will acknowledge and highlight the work of Arkansas educators, parents, community members, and policymakers who support the whole child. The legislation also indicates that one purpose of the recognition program is to help spur systemic collaboration and coordination within and beyond schoolhouse doors and to promote a shift from narrowly defined student achievement and traditional education reform to broader, more comprehensive efforts that recognize the crucial out-of-school factors that influence teaching and learning. A diverse state working group will work over the course of a year to recommend a framework and process for recognizing exemplary whole child and whole community successes.

      Congratulations to Arkansas ASCD, which played a crucial role in supporting the bill’s development and introduction!


      Rhode Island Passes Whole Child Resolution

      The Rhode Island General Assembly passed a joint resolution (PDF) supporting a whole child approach to education that ensures each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

      The resolution affirms that to educate Rhode Island’s children effectively, the state must pay attention to factors within and beyond its school buildings as well as integrate efforts among schools, families, and communities. In addition, the resolution expresses the assembly’s intent to model whole child concepts in its own work and to join with other stakeholders who support the whole child.

      Congratulations to Rhode Island ASCD(RIASCD), which worked hard to have this joint resolution introduced into the Rhode Island legislature!

      To help the state fulfill its commitment to whole child education, ASCD and RIASCD offered some initial steps (PDF)—organized by the five whole child tenets—for educators, parents and community members, and policymakers to take. RIASCD also highlighted some of ASCD’s free resources to help the state put its whole child vision into action. 


      South Carolina ASCD Featured in ASCD Inservice Blog Series

      Weasked some of our affiliate leaders to tell us how the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has been going in their home states.In the seventh post of the series, South Carolina ASCD leader Josh Patterson writes about the challenges and successes that South Carolina has had with CCSS implementation.

      Previous Posts:Tennessee ASCD, New Jersey ASCD,Alabama ASCD, Arkansas ASCD, New Hampshire ASCD, and Florida ASCD


      The Effective Principal

      What we see through our research, reading, and conversations with principals and school staff is that to see what an effective principal is, don’t look at the person; look at the effects of her leadership on student achievement, school culture and climate, teacher effectiveness and satisfaction, and community relationships. As the wearers of many hats, principals are crucial to implementing meaningful and lasting school change. Read more on the Whole Child Blog.

      In April, we looked at what qualities principals in today’s (and tomorrow’s) schools need to fulfill their roles as visionary, instructional, influential, and learning leaders. Listen to the Whole Child Podcast with guests Donna Snyder, manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD; Kevin Enerson, principal of Le Sueur-Henderson High School in Minnesota (an ASCD Whole Child Network school); and Jessica Bohn, an ASCD Emerging Leader and principal of Gibsonville Elementary School in North Carolina.

      Also this month on the Whole Child Podcast, we talked with educators from Oregon’s Milwaukie High School (winner of the 2013 Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award) about how they meet student and staff needs, taking challenges and turning them into opportunities for all. Guests include principal Mark Pinder, assistant principal for curriculum Michael Ralls, assistant principal for student management Tim Taylor, dean of students Donnie Siel, and teacher leader David Adams.

      Have you signed up to receive the Whole Child Newsletter? Read the latest newsletter and visit the archive for more strategies, resources, and tools you can use to help ensure that each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.


      Something to Talk About

      ·         Most recent blog posts on ASCD EDge®

      ·         Mostclicked stories from ASCD SmartBrief


      Association News

      Killeen Independent School District Deepens Professional Development Partnership with ASCD—Killeen Independent School District (ISD)—whose more than 6,100 staff members serve approximately 42,000 students—is deepening its relationship with ASCD to meet its professional development goals. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Publishes Leadership Guide on Transforming Any Teacher into a Master—ASCD is pleased to announce the release of Never Underestimate Your Teachers: Instructional Leadership for Excellence in Every Classroom by best-selling education author, renowned educator, and professional development expert Robyn R. Jackson.
      Never Underestimate Your Teachers offers school leaders a new model for understanding great teaching as a combination of skill and will, and it's the first book of its kind to support leaders as they facilitate teacher growth in both areas through differentiated leadership. Jackson shows readers how to design and deliver targeted professional development to help each teacher realize his or her potential and achieve great results for the benefit of every student. Read the full press release.

      New ASCD Common Core Academy Supports School Leadership Teams Across the United States—ASCD is bringing its inaugural ASCD Common Core Leadership Team Academy to Chicago August 5–8, 2013. This intensive four-day professional leadership experience offers groups of administrators, teacher leaders, and nonprofit and higher education partners an accelerated plan for putting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) into routine practice. Read the full press release.

      ASCD Summer Reading List Identifies 10 Books That Can Transform Teaching and Learning—In the spirit of promoting year-round professional development, ASCD has assembled a diverse list of books essential to educators who seek to improve their practice over the summer months. These books—organized by how they help educators transform teaching and learning—offer readers the opportunity to dive deep into the hottest topics in education, including using data to focus improvement, project-based learning, child development, and neurodiversity. All books are currently available in paperback and e-book formats. Read the full press release.

      Arkansas Governor Beebe Signs Education Reform Law Supporting the Whole Child—Arkansas Governor Michael Beebe has signed a new bill into law that promotes a well-rounded whole child approach to educating the state’s children.“An Act to Establish the Whole Child– Whole Community Recognition Program; and for Other Purposes” (Senate Bill 1051[PDF]) outlines a plan for the Arkansas education system that ensures Arkansas students receive a whole child education. Read the full press release.

      New ASCD Staff Expand Association’s Ability to Design, Deliver, and Evaluate Professional Development Resources—ASCD welcomes three new staff members to the association’s Program Development Work Group. Dr. Andrea Muse has accepted the position of director of research and program evaluation, Jen Thompson will serve as director of program management and process improvement, and Elizabeth Thurman has joined ASCD as director of customer engagement and product support. The additions of Muse, Thompson, and Thurman expand ASCD’s capability to design, deliver, and evaluate the crucial professional development resources today’s educators need to learn, teach, and lead. Read the full press release.



    • Blog post
    • 11 months ago
    • Views: 327
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  • Strengthening Curriculum and I Strengthening Curriculum and Instruction in a 21st century world

    • From: Elliott_Seif
    • Description:

      This commentary examines criteria for selecting effective curricula and instructional models in a 21st century world, and also provides eight examples of relatively unknown yet powerful curricula-instructional programs that should be considered for adoption.


      In the same way that it is hard to build a building without an architectural blueprint, so too it is hard for a teacher to be effective without strong curricula-instructional frameworks. Curricula/instructional frameworks lay out the goals, methods, strategies, approaches, assessments, and resources needed for successful teaching and learning. The better the framework, the more likely will be the sturdiness of the foundation and the effectiveness of instruction. The more that curricular-instructional models available to teachers are consistent with the goals and practices of the teacher and school, and the needs of students, the more likely it is that teaching will have good results.


      Just imagine how an architectural blueprint influences and affects the construction of a building. Building construction based on a poor design may make it difficult to walk from one part of the building to another, make communication among building occupants difficult, make furniture arrangements impossible, make lighting too dark or too light, make the building safe or unsafe. In the same vein, a poorly designed curriculum may lead to too many unclear, vague goals that do not match student needs, include too much to teach, limit “deeper understanding” of a subject, teach the wrong skills, provide few connections between its different parts, have little meaning for learners, foster passive learning, and make alignment of content among teachers and grade levels difficult. When teachers work from poorly designed curricula and instructional frameworks, they have to work very hard to redo the curricular and instructional practices encouraged by these frameworks, and many times powerful learning is difficult if not impossible to create within the given framework.


      What are the components of successful curriculum/instructional frameworks for teaching in a 21st century world? Some framework characteristics might include:

      • Meaningful, worthwhile core goals focused around essential questions, big ideas, understandings and key 21st century skills;
      • An emphasis on developing student understanding, concepts, and content relationships and connections over time;
      • A focus on important skills, attitudes and values, such as positive attitudes towards learning, the importance of effort, research and study skills, openness to new thoughts and ideas, scientific experimentation, curiosity, self-reflection, thoughtfulness, creativity, application and transfer, multiple forms of communication, and conflict resolution/collaboration;
      • The use of multiple types of readings and resources that foster the development of literacy skills and can be integrated into instruction;
      • “Deeper” learning instructional strategies that go well beyond coverage and superficial textbook learning, “drill down” to promote understanding and thoughtfulness, encourage effective writing and discussion, and promote student interest, motivation, inquiry, research, and active engagement;
      • Multiple types of both formative and summative assessments, including authentic performance tasks, teacher observations, self-reflections, writing of all types, and on-going feedback strategies designed to improve student work;
      • A framework organization that is clear and coherent;
      • Appropriate and realistic use of technology as a helpful tool for reaching goals;
      • Realistic learning time frames that distinguish between core and supplemental learning;
      • Support and enrichment activities;
      • Alignment among goals, materials, strategies, and assessments;
      • Links with goals, curricula and instructional approaches across grade levels and subjects.


      Teachers, schools and districts need to regularly review their curricular programs in order to update them and create programs more attuned to this new age that we live in. Ultimately, this will make a huge difference for children in this new age.




      The following curricula and instructional models exemplify powerful “21st century” program elements built around many or most these criteria. You are probably unfamiliar with most or all of them. They, and programs like them, should become familiar to educators and achieve greater use throughout the educational community.

      NOTE: Many of their descriptions are adapted from the program’s website.




      SERP-Word Generation for the Middle School

      SERP - Word Generation is a research-based, highly motivating “vocabulary” development program for middle school students designed to teach words through language arts, math, science, and social studies classes. The program consists of weekly units, each of which introduces 5 high-utility target words through brief passages describing controversies currently under debate in this country. The paragraphs are intended to help students join ongoing "national conversations" by sparking active examination and discussion of contemporary issues. The target words are relevant to a range of settings and subject areas. The cross-content focus on a small number of words each week will enable students to understand the variety of ways in which words are related, and the multiple exposures to words will provide ample opportunities for deeper understanding.

      The Word Generation program is designed to build academic vocabulary, i.e., words that students are likely to encounter in textbooks and on tests, but not in spoken language. Interpret, prohibit, vary, function, and hypothesis are examples. Academic vocabulary includes words that refer to thinking and communicating, like infer and deny, and words that are common across subjects, but hold different meaning depending on the subject, like element and factor. Both types of academic vocabulary are likely to cause problems with comprehension unless students have been taught how to deal with them.


      For more information, go to: http://wg.serpmedia.org

      For information about other SERP programs in development, go to: http://www.serpinstitute.org/2013/


      Other literacy development programs you might want to examine:

      Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI) http://www.cliontheweb.org

      Reading and Writing Workshop: http://readingandwritingproject.com/about/overview.html

      100 Book Challenge: http://www.americanreading.com/products/100bc/

      Touchstones discussion Project: http://www.touchstones.org

      Jr Great Books Program:  


      Educurious http://educurious.org




      Design Thinking

      Design Thinking is a structured approach to generate and develop new ways to solve difficult problems and challenges. Design Thinking starts with a challenge, and then works through a series of steps to help find creative solutions to the challenge, such as empathy, interpretation, brainstorming and choosing alternatives, building models, and planning for implementation. The process can be used to help solve school challenges or world-wide challenges. It includes learning additional skills such as finding reliable information, developing surveys and questionnaires, and building interview skills. It can be adapted to be used with students at all ages.


      Other creative thinking programs you might want to explore:

      Creative Problem Solving: http://www.creativeeducationfoundation.org

      The Future Problem Solving Program: http://www.fpspi.org




      Champions of Caring: Journey of a Champion Middle and High School Programs

      The Journey of a Champion Middle Grades curriculum is a year-long course of study divided into 4 modules. It promotes academic excellence, character development, service-learning and citizenship. The curriculum is a catalyst for encouraging caring, thoughtfulness and good judgment through service and civic participation.  Students gain civic engagement skills as they design community and school service projects. Civic skills developed include: 

      • Designing and implementing community interviews and surveys
      • Service-learning/community project development and assessment
      • Self-reflection
      • Public speaking
      • Persuasive writing skills
      • Conflict resolution and problem solving
      • Leadership and team building
      • Professional etiquette and work readiness
      • Building a personal portfolio


      The Journey of a Champion High School Program is a character education and service-learning curriculum for students in grades 9-12. Through this program, students learn how to act as responsible, caring and involved citizens who respect themselves and others and succeed academically.

      Journey of a Champion invites students to learn about and reflect on the challenges they and their contemporaries face. It places those challenges in a historical context and leads students to develop strategies and skills that will help them confront those challenges. The journey "destination" is students creating and planning sustainable service and civic participation. The curriculum affects positive change in students by:

      • Developing character through community involvement
      • Engaging students in active learning that demonstrates the relevance and importance of academic work for their life experiences and career choices
      • Increasing awareness of past and current social issues
      • Broadening and deepening perspectives of diversity issues, causes and solutions to conflicts, respect for self and others in their communities
      • Enhancing critical thinking skills, with particular emphasis on conflict resolution, decision-making, and problem solving.


      For more information, go to: http://www.championsofcaring.org


      Other programs to look at:

      Second Step: http://www.cfchildren.org/second-step.aspx




      Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE)

      Entrepreneurship education is a tool that can equip young people to not only start businesses and create jobs, but also to be opportunity-focused, flexible employees ready to fill existing jobs.

      NFTE fosters the creation of entrepreneurship skills, businesses and the development of an adaptable, driven and opportunity-focused workforce that ultimately promotes economic stability.  External research has shown that NFTE graduates start and maintain businesses at substantially higher rates than their peers. Other research findings indicate that students develop:

      • Increased interest in attending college
      • Greater occupational aspirations
      • Improved scores in independent reading


      Working with schools in low-income communities where at least 50% of the students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, NFTE targets young people who are at risk of dropping out of school, and helps them graduate with their own personal plans for success. The program, Highly Academic, is a semester or year-long class with a NFTE-certified teacher who guides students through one of the curricula: Entrepreneurship: Owning Your Future  or Exploring Careers for the 21st Century. Lessons include the concepts of competitive advantage, ownership, opportunity recognition, marketing, finance, and product development - and all tie back to core math and literacy skills. Lessons include field trips, games and experiential activities. Classes regularly have guest speakers. Students are paired with coaches who help students work on their business plans, and business plan competitions are judges by local entrepreneurs and business people.


      Each young person who takes a NFTE class works toward completing a business plan, then goes on to present and defend it in a classroom competition. The winners of these competitions go on to compete in citywide or regional competitions, with the hopes of reaching our annual national competition.


      For more information, go to: http://www.nfte.com


      Other Economic-Entrepreneurial Programs:

      General information about entrepreneurial education programs can be found at: http://www.entre-ed.org

      Information about Economic and Financial Education resources can be found at: http://www.councilforeconed.org




      Full Options Science System (FOSS)

      Science is an active enterprise, made active by our human capacity to think and “search for the truth”. Scientists value open communication, investigation, and good evidence for drawing conclusions. Scientific knowledge advances when scientists observe objects and events, think about how they relate to what is known, test their ideas in logical ways, and generate explanations that integrate the new information into the established order. Thus the scientific enterprise is both what we know (content) and how we come to know it (process). The best way for students to appreciate the scientific enterprise, learn important scientific concepts, and develop the ability to think critically is to actively construct ideas through their own inquiries, investigations, and analyses.


      The FOSS program was created to engage students in these processes as they explore the natural world. FOSS program materials are designed to meet the challenge of providing meaningful science education for all students in diverse American classrooms and to prepare them for life in the 21st century. Development of the FOSS program was, and continues to be, guided by advances in the understanding of how youngsters think and learn.


      FOSS K–6 is a complete program consisting of 26 modules for self-contained elementary classrooms. The components exclusive to K–6 are

      • Teacher guides for K–6
      • Equipment kits for K–6
      • Teacher preparation videos for K–6
      • FOSS Science Stories and Spanish Editions


      FOSS Middle School components consist of nine units for students and their teachers in departmental science grades 6–8. Each unit requires 9–12 weeks to teach. The Middle School program includes the following five interconnected components:

      • Teacher guides for middle school courses
      • Equipment kits for middle school courses
      • Lab Notebooks for students
      • Resources books for students
      • CD-ROM for middle school courses.


      Two components that apply to both FOSS K–6 and FOSS Middle School are the FOSS Assessment System and FOSSweb.com.


      For more information, go to: http://www.fossweb.com


      Other programs to consider:

      Active Physics: (high school): http://its-about-time.com/htmls/ap.html

      GEMS (K-8):





      Cognitively Guided Instruction

      Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) is a professional development program that increases teachers’ understanding of the knowledge that students bring to the math learning process and how they can connect that knowledge with formal concepts and operations. The program is based on the premise that children throughout the elementary grades are capable of learning powerful unifying ideas of mathematics that are the foundation of both arithmetic and algebra. Learning and articulating these ideas enhance children's understanding of arithmetic and provide a foundation for extending their knowledge of arithmetic to the learning of algebra.


      CGI is guided by two major ideas. The first is that children bring an intuitive knowledge of mathematics to school with them and that this knowledge should serve as the basis for developing formal mathematics instruction. This idea leads to an emphasis on working with the processes that students use to solve problems. The second key idea is that math instruction should be based on the relationship between computational skills and problem solving, which leads to an emphasis on problem solving in the classroom instead of the repetition of number facts, such as practicing the rules of addition and subtraction.


      With the CGI approach, teachers focus on what students know and help them build future understanding based on present knowledge. The program aims to improve children's mathematical skills by increasing teachers' knowledge of students' thinking, by changing teachers' beliefs regarding how children learn, and by ultimately changing teaching practice. In 1996, CGI was extended into the upper elementary school levels to assist first through sixth grade teachers in integrating the major principles of algebra into arithmetic instruction.


      There is no set curriculum. Teachers use the CGI framework with existing curriculum materials, or they use CGI principles to help develop their own math curriculum.


      For more information, go to: http://www.promisingpractices.net/program.asp?programid=114#programinfo


      Other math programs that might be considered:

      Project Seed: http://projectseed.org

      Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP)(High School): http://mathimp.org/general_info/intro.html




      Social Studies School Service

      Social Studies School Service offers teachers, K-12, a variety of alternative and unique materials, programs, and curricula for social studies at all levels. The materials have been developed for the many aspects of social studies – government, history, geography, and civics – and often are interdisciplinary, incorporate conceptual understanding, develop research skills, big ideas and essential questions, and use data-based test questions (DBQ’s), performance tasks, and multiple readings. Catalogues of available materials are frequently sent out and shared.


      For further information, go to: www.socialstudies.com


      Other social studies/civics programs to consider:

      Teacher’s Curriculum Institute social studies programs: www.teachtci.com

      Center for Civic Education: http://new.civiced.org

      Zinn Education: http://zinnedproject.org                                            

      A History of US: http://www.joyhakim.com/works.htm

      The Choices Program (Middle and High School): http://www.choices.edu




      Engineering is Elementary

      EIE consists currently of twenty STEM units designed for the elementary grades. Each EIE unit ties in with an elementary science topic and is meant to be taught either concurrently or after students learn the appropriate science content in life science, earth and space science and physical science areas. Each unit has five “lessons” (lessons can be more than one day).

      The units attempt to combine learning in a science area with engineering concepts. Engineering projects integrate other disciplines. Engaging students in hands-on, real-world engineering experiences can enliven math and science and other content areas. Engineering projects can motivate students to learn math and science concepts by illustrating relevant applications. They foster problem-solving skills, including problem formulation, iteration, testing of alternative solutions, and evaluation of data to guide decisions.

      Learning about engineering increases students' awareness of and access to scientific and technical careers. The number of American citizens pursuing engineering is decreasing. Early introduction to engineering can encourage many capable students, especially girls and minorities, to consider it as a career and enroll in the necessary science and math courses in high school.


      For more information, go to: http://www.eie.org/


      Other STEM examples:

      Engineer Your World: http://www.engineeryourworld.org (high school)

      Project Lead the Way: http://www.pltw.org (high school)



      Some Final Thoughts


      Every school and district should have some mechanism to help staff members regularly review the many available potential curriculum and instructional programs and approaches, and to select those that provide students with opportunities based on the criteria suggested at the beginning of this commentary, such as focused, meaningful goals; targeted key skills, attitudes and values; multiple formative and summative assessment options; a focus on deeper learning; and active student engagement and inquiry.[i]


      The programs listed above are only some examples of the many powerful curricula and instructional options that are often neglected and put into place too infrequently in schools and classrooms.[ii] Many others that meet the criteria cited above and match 21st century goals should be considered. Through continual review and renewal, every District should move towards having a set of powerful curricula and instructional programs, tied to appropriate staff development training, that help prepare students to live in a 21st century world.


      We also now have the technology to develop curriculum review websites, comparable to Amazon’s book service and reviews or TripAdvisor’s travel site that rates hotels and bed and breakfasts in all parts of the world.  The website should include a comprehensive set of curriculum programs, all reviewed by experts and rated by users. Such a site would provide educators with data that would be helpful in a curriculum review and renewal process.


      [i] For additional information about curriculum renewal criteria and strategies, go to www.era3learning.org, then to resources, then to curriculum renewal, and then to the article by Elliott Seif, Reconfiguring Learning Through Curriculum Renewal (unpublished).

      [ii] For more information about curriculum selection criteria and additional alternative curricular and instructional programs in many subject areas, go to: www.era3learning.org, then to the resource page, then to the meaningful curriculum section.

    • Blog post
    • 11 months ago
    • Views: 637
  • Effective Teachers Need 21st C Effective Teachers Need 21st Century Teaching Skills

    • From: Mike_Anderson
    • Description:

      This post is a part of the ASCD Forum conversation “how do we define and measure teacher and principal effectiveness?” To learn more about the ASCD Forum, go to www.ascd.org/ascdforum.

      As we face rapid technological, environmental, economic, political, and social changes in this new world, the need for dedicated, skilled teachers has never been greater. We need teachers who can teach children not only how to solve problems, but how to use higher-order thinking skills to discern what problems need solving—teachers who can inspire students to do their best work and thrive as contributing citizens in an increasingly complex world.

      We need, in short, teachers who move beyond good teaching to great teaching—transformative teaching. Just as students need a specific set of skills to equip them to succeed in the 21st century, teachers need a specific set of tools to be effective teachers of 21st century learners.

      Responsive Classroom professional development focuses on building 21st century teacher skills in three crucial, interrelated domains:

      • Engaging Academics: Effective teaching requires that teachers know how to offer academic lessons, assignments, and activities that are active and interactive, appropriately challenging, purposeful, and connected to students’ interests. This kind of teaching leads children to a higher level of motivation, skill mastery, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
      • Effective Management: Effective teaching is possible only in well-managed classrooms and schools. In such classrooms, teachers establish and teach behavior expectations, manage the schedule, and organize physical spaces in ways that enable students to work with autonomy and focus. When children make behavior mistakes in these settings, teachers respond in non-punitive ways that quickly and respectfully help them resume their learning.
      • Positive Community: Effective teaching requires a classroom and school where every child feels safe, valued, and fully included in the learning community; where teacher and students share a common purpose along with regular routines and traditions that form a comforting underpinning for their days; and where a sense of joy envelopes hard work. Only when such a positive climate prevails can children take the risks necessary to learning.

      Too often in schools, community, management, and academics are seen as three separate domains. Responsive Classroom approaches the challenge of increasing teacher effectiveness for the 21st century by helping educators develop teaching skills that simultaneously apply across all three of these crucial, interrelated domains.

      Teachers who have these tools at their command have the ability to immediately impact student learning in powerful, positive, and lasting ways. Few teachers begin their careers with highly developed skills in all three domains, which is where professional development comes in. We work with teachers, schools, and districts to develop the skills that today’s teachers need to realize our shared vision of a high-quality education for every child, every day.

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
    • Views: 1200
  • Assessment Resources Assessment Resources

    • From: Michael_Fisher
    • Description:

      With state assessments in multiple states coming up soon, I thought I'd share some resources about assessments and test anxiety and opting out and those things related to assessments that have been in the news recently.


      This blog post is meant to briefly address the recent “opt-out” concerns and provide resources so that the reader can make informed decisions. Some of the resources that I am sharing here will be easy to nitpick apart and cull details from that may seem inflammatory when pulled out of context and remixed and redistributed. I encourage any of you reading this to read closely what the text says explicitly, paying attention to words like “may” and “might” and “could.” These words are modal words of variability and as such, should be read with a menu of potential implications in mind--not a set in stone either/or scenario that the media tends to latch onto.

      The major issue here is not really too much testing, it is academic integrity. That integrity extends over the whole of our educational system and has been in place ever since the notion of school was conceived. Teaching and learning without assessment is like preparing for a performance you never give. Like a book never published, like practicing on a field for a game never played. Integrity is disrupted when we only accomplish part of this process--education must be directed to its designed checkpoints--the assessments.

      Students need opportunities to show what they know. The media and all others who are against the high stakes testing are really fighting the wrong battle. The “high stakes” part are labels attached to assessments recently and represent the usage of the data from the assessment to figure into student promotion, teacher evaluation, Title 1 funding, school effectiveness, etc. Those are external issues applied to assessments that have been in place for decades. These external issues are passed down to teachers and students which is what is causing the stress--not the assessment itself.

      Additionally, because of the “high stakes” label, schools and teachers are participating in associated behaviors that represent what we should really be “opting out” of. Those behaviors include: test prep for weeks on end, multiple practice tests, teaching TO the test, traditional teaching throughout the school year and then a mad rush just before the assessment, negative assessment talk, misalignment in the rigor of instruction not matching the rigor of the assessment, misinforming or not informing parents about changes in standards and assessment in a timely manner and more. We maintain the “high stakes” label with all of these associated behaviors.

      Last year, I wrote a blog post entitled “Ditch Test Prep.” Click the link and you can read what I wrote, but I encourage you to read the comments as well. All blog posts are invitations to conversations, not one-off publishing moments. The conversation in this particular blog post helped me shape my thinking around being what my colleague Jen Borgioli calls being “test-wise.”

      In an effort to be more “test-wise,” I’d like to share the following resources:

      Jen Borgioli’s Test Prep without Corruption Video Series on YouTube.

      The actual document from the New York State Association of School Attorney’s about opting out.

      Angela Stockman’s recent blog post on Test Stress.  A couple other resources Angela has shared on social media: The Case for Authentic Assessment and Healthier Testing Made Easy

      Steven Weber’s blog post on Can We Cure Test Anxiety?

      My resources on Test Taking Skills (caveat: I used this stuff years ago and it has not been recently updated, but it represents perhaps a few different ways to approach embedding "test-wiseness.")

      Please, continue to advocate for kids and their learning. Continue to do what you think is right for your children. But, be informed. Know what the real issues are. (For instance, I didn’t mention anything here about students being “overtested,” which the media would have you believe. If you think that, have you actually been in the schools looking at the way data is collected and used for instruction? If assessments are being done for the sake of “giving a test,” then perhaps the students are overtested. If the assessments are being used to shape instruction and give teachers an idea of the next instructional steps, then probably not.)

      Our students need a chance to show what they know. We can talk about college and career readiness, we can talk about preparing kids for the world they will be graduating into, but I like to think about it like a ship we’re all on. Teachers are captains and the students are crew. If the students don’t ever get a chance to demonstrate the understanding of their learning, they will never be captains themselves. We need these assessments. We just don’t need all of the associated minutiae around them.


      If you know of additional resources, please feel free to share them here!

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