Professional Development Weekly Video Blog

Real Examples. Real Teachers. Real Education.

This video blog is where you will find videos each week that focus on educational professional development and teaching strategies, all centered on meeting the challenges of educating today's students. The video content comes from PD 360's extensive library of professional development segments. 

If you like the Weekly Video Blog, then you will love a free, 30-day trial of PD 360 where you will gain access to the world's largest on-demand professional development library. 

April 18th, 2014

Child Abuse and Neglect: Laws and Policies for Reporting Child Maltreatment

In all states, when a teacher suspects abuse he or she is required to report the suspicion to proper authorities. Because of this, educators must know their school system’s policy based on federal and state laws for reporting suspected child maltreatment.

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April 11th, 2014

Child Abuse and Neglect: Preventing Child Maltreatment

Schools play a critical role not only in identifying and reporting child maltreatment, but also in preventing it. Schools can do this by instituting a curriculum that emphasizes social development, supporting school-community programs, and encouraging the individual initiatives of educators. 

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April 4th, 2014

Child Abuse and Neglect: Defining Child Maltreatment

Child maltreatment takes on many forms. The United States Department of Health and Human Services identifies four main types of child maltreatment. This video segment gives an overview of each of these types.

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March 28th, 2014

Child Abuse and Neglect: Identifying Signs of Maltreatment

More than any other profession, educators are central in reporting suspected child maltreatment. This segment provides guidance in identifying and evaluating evidence of neglect and abuse.

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March 20th, 2014

8th Grade Role Play:

Often, the best learning comes from stepping into the shoes of someone else. In this video segment, Ms. Amanda Griffin, an 8th grade history teacher at Newton-Conover Middle School in Conover, North Carolina, discusses how taxation without representation contributed to the colonial unrest that led to the Revolutionary War. 

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March 13th, 2014

2nd Grade Math Lesson:

In this segment, Ms. Angie Sigmon, a 2nd grade teacher at Shuford Elementary in Conover, North Carolina, guides her students as they solve addition and subtraction story problems that contain number-related words. Each student has an iPad to work on throughout the day.

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March 5th, 2014

Common Core Lesson: Investigating Thermodynamics

In this segment, Mr. David Schouweiler, a chemistry teacher at Newton-Conover High School in Newton, North Carolina, guides his students as they conduct experiments and evaluate the results to explore the principles of thermal energy and heat transfer.

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February 28th, 2014

Technology in the Classroom Series—Student Email

If email isn’t already a daily part of elementary students’ lives, it soon will be. And that’s a very good thing, especially considering all the learning opportunities that come with lessons about using email.

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February 7th, 2014

Classroom Management: Classroom Humor

Humor in the classroom can help you communicate concepts as well as help keep attention focused where it needs to be. It also contributes to a positive learning environment that fosters supportive relationships among students and teachers.

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January 31st, 2014

Five Principles of Effective Classroom Assessments

Classroom assessments are vital to seeing continuing improvements in student achievement. So it’s important to keep in mind that the primary purpose of assessment should be to promote student learning. Assessments should focus on the educational outcomes that matter most, not just on those things that are easiest to test and quantify.

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January 24th, 2014

Classroom Management: A Framework for Student Success

Most teachers envision the ideal classroom as one where content is rigorous and activities are engaging and relevant. They imagine a classroom where students are actively questioning, listening, and sharing—working collaboratively and showing respect for each other and the learning environment.

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January 17th, 2014

Classroom Management: Engaging Students in Literacy Development

Student engagement is key to the success of any lesson. To help keep her students engaged as they develop literacy skills, Ms. Julie Wolfrum, a 2nd grade teacher from Alpharetta, Georgia, uses the Daily 5™ in her classroom.

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January 10th, 2014

Classroom Management: Narrating Positive Behaviors

Narrating positive behavior in the classroom allows teachers to reinforce their instructions in a constructive way, drawing attention to desired behavior instead of misbehavior.

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December 13th, 2013

Common Core in the Classroom: Exploring Theme and Character in Fiction

Ms. Christine Fulton, a 3rd grade teacher in New Orleans, Louisiana, helps her students cite evidence from text to explain character actions and motivations in a story (lesson aligned with 3rd grade Common Core ELA standard Reading Literature one and three).

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November 7th, 2013

Math Practice Standards: Attend to Precision

According to Standard 6 of the Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice, mathematically proficient students “attend to precision.” They use clear definitions in communicating with others.

Robert Oswald, a teacher in Cumming, Georgia, elaborates on the importance of precision in the classroom, “It’s so important to use the vocabulary correctly when I’m presenting it, when I’m modeling it, or else the kids don’t have a chance to reproduce it in a way that will help someone else understand what they’re talking about.

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October 31st, 2013

The Benefits of Practical Lesson Study

Lesson Study is a course of action where teachers work together to plan classroom lessons, observe the teaching and learning experience during the lesson, analyze the content and delivery, and then make changes in the lesson to make it better. At the heart of Lesson Study is the concept that all students can learn and all teachers can improve.

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October 10th, 2013

Math Practice Standards

The Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice outline critical skills that prepare students to use mathematics to confidently solve problems and justify their solutions.

One of these skills is learning how to use “appropriate tools strategically” (Standard 5). It’s important to help students know what tools are available to them and how to select which tool to use when solving a mathematical problem.

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September 30th, 2013

Guide Student Reading Comprehension with the RATE Method

The ability to dissect and understand a text means much more than just reading it. To help her students comprehend complex texts, Christy Reasons, a teacher from Shelby County, Tennessee, uses the RATE method.

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September 20th, 2013

Using Practical Equity Walkthroughs to Close Achievement Gaps

In the circles of education, it is widely accepted that an achievement gap exists between Brown, Black, Asian, and White students. This racial achievement gap is often evidenced in the performance gap between students of color.

Teachers can help close this achievement gap by using practical equity walkthroughs. In these walkthroughs, teachers (usually members of a practical equity walkthrough team) have the opportunity to observe learning inside each other's classrooms. 

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February 14th, 2013

Informal Observation

informal observationInformal Observation Helps to Build Trust and Rapport Because the Principal Is Involved in Snapshots of Daily Life in Each Classroom.

Education leader Marilyn McGuire explains:

“What we find is that the most helpful piece is informal observation. If you do informal observations every day, at least one for fifteen minutes, and maybe even two for fifteen minutes, you can be missing for fifteen minutes and nobody's getting too shook about where the principal is, or the assistant principal is, and yet you then are around to a virtually every class, and know what's going on.”

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February 7th, 2013

Evaluation, Learning, and Trust

evaluation, learning, trustIn an Age of Accountability, Conscientious Educators Look for Ways to Enhance Student Learning.

Learning should be at the center of everything administrators and teachers do. Required teacher evaluations can sometimes appear to be removed from learning, and can be intimidating to teachers.

However, when done properly, evaluations are an opportunity for administrators to help teachers improve their craft and impact student learning.

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January 31st, 2013

Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach with Jim Knight

instructional coachingLeaders are finding that instructional coaching programs, often carried out by experienced teachers, are an incredibly effective way to help improve instruction at school.

Stacy Cohen is an instructional coach at Topeka West High School in Topeka, Kansas.

“The role the coach plays in the building is really determined by the principal,” Cohen says. “Sometimes I think it involves how much principals understand about coaching, how informed they are. At the middle school level, I often play the role of counselor to teachers. So, you be a counselor, shoulder to cry on, and cheerleader to help them on a bad day.”

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January 16th, 2013

Fiction Prediction Sheets

Fiction Prediction SheetsDr. Forget Guides Students Through a Directed Reading Prediction Exercise, to Improve Comprehension.

Dr. Mark A. Forget is president and director of staff development for MAX Teaching with Reading and Writing.

“Everyone who’s a good reader has strategies for different types of reading,” he explains to his class. “You would certainly read a science book differently than you would read a story, wouldn’t you? Anyway, in this, we’re gonna read a story in your textbook. Does everyone have your book? Dig your book out—let’s get this out. We’re gonna focus on one specific strategy that we’re all gonna do together to help each other to use this strategy. And guess what the strategy is gonna be for reading a story? Who can guess?”

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January 9th, 2013

Cornell Note Taking with PQRST

cornell note takingLearn about PQRST, an independent study technique that helps students systematically set their own purposes for reading text.

Todd Luke is the coordinator of school operations for Lenape Vocational Technical School in Ford City, Pennsylvania.

“Okay,” Mr. Luke says to a room full of students, “what I want to do with you this morning is actually work on some skills that go along with some of the things that you’ve already been doing in class. Now, how many of you are familiar with two-column notes? If you’re familiar with two-column notes, this is a way that when you get to college, or when you’re out on your own, that you can have a tool you can actually use; it’s like having a study partner without actually really having anybody there with you. And the name of it is PQRST. I gave everybody a handout and I wrote it on the board.

The P stands for Previewing. How many of you know how to preview text? You’ve done that? Okay, good. Tell me how you preview text; what do you do when you preview text. What do you look at? How do you do that?

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December 19th, 2012

Anticipation Guides to Prepare for Student Reading

anticipation guidesThe teacher models how the skill of predicting works for her when she reads the newspaper. She explains that it’s not so important whether one’s predictions are right or wrong, making predictions simply makes it easier to read because the reader knows what she’s looking for.

Rosemarie R. O’Grady, vice president and staff coordinator for MAX Teaching has been training on reading strategies for years.

“Here are four anticipation guides,” Ms. O’Grady says to a room. “One per person. These are yours; write your name on them.”

Before using an anticipation guide to scaffold students into making predictions about some of the important concepts in the reading, the teacher takes a few minutes to explain the value of predicting before reading in order to set purposes for reading.

“I don’t just dive into reading something, I want to check out the pictures,” explains Ms. O’Grady.

In addition, the teacher models how the skill of predicting works for her when she reads the newspaper. She explains that it’s not so important whether one’s predictions are right or wrong, making predictions simply makes it easier to read because the reader knows what she’s looking for.

“And I’m going to predict,” Ms. O’Grady says to her class. “Okay. So everybody take a couple minutes to look at the eight statements here and just check “yes,” I agree or “no,” I do not agree.

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December 13th, 2012

Directed Reading—Thinking Activity for Non-Fiction Text

non fiction reading strategiesWhen the teacher reads the introduction out loud, the probability of student success increases, because on average student listening level is 2 years higher than reading grade level.

This week’s segment shows a teacher giving a lesson in which she instructs her class in directed reading skills. Rather than focus on rote knowledge, the teacher uses the reading assignment as an opportunity to instruct students on how to read: strategies that will help students regardless of the type of content they might encounter.

This lesson is particularly relevant and timely for teachers implementing the Common Core Standards, which, at least in ELA, focus more on student reading skill than the memorization of facts in the text.

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December 4th, 2012

Project-Based School Curriculum

project-based school curriculumHow to make project-based school curriculum generate rigor and relevance through active learning that engages students in complex investigation of authentic problems. It is a comprehensive approach to classroom teaching and learning that is based on real-world collaboration and inquiry.

Curtis Muraoka, co-director of West Hawai’i Explorations Academy, Kailua-Kona, Hawai’I, describes the structure of the project-based school:

“There’s a lot of scaffolding that happens within the program, where there is more structure in the sixth grade and then it becomes less and less structured,” he says.

Scaffolding is a strategy for differentiating instruction as teachers provide individualized support to students as they move from one level of learning to the next.

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November 28th, 2012

Algebraic Equations and Statistics Vocabulary

Algebraic Equations and Statistics VocabularyCommon Core Math Standards: A-SSE.3, S‐IC.1, MP.6 English Language Arts Standards: RST.11‐12.4

In this segment, Karmen Kirtley, a math teacher at South High School in Denver, Colorado, teaches her senior statistics class a two-part lesson in which they rewrite algebraic expressions and review statistics terminology on graphic organizers. Karmen’s lesson is aligned to the concepts in the Common Core Math Standards, and a few ELA standards as well:

Standards for Mathematical Content:

Standards for Mathematical Practice:

ELA Standard:

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November 20th, 2012

Determining Price Points

determining price pointsIn this segment, Travis Lemon, a math teacher from American Fork Junior High School in American Fork, Utah, guides his students to solve a real-world problem using linear equations. Travis’s lesson targets eighth-grade Common Core math standard Expressions and Equations eight and Mathematical Practice standards four through six. Elements of related standards are also highlighted in this segment.

“Often when I teach, I use a contextual type of a task where it’s a scenario or something real-world that they can connect with."

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November 12th, 2012

Solving Multistep Word Problems

multistep word problems

Segment 5 of 10 of this program. In this segment, Ms. Kalina Potts, a 4th grade teacher guides her students as they work through a multistep word problem using the four operations. The lesson is aligned with math standard 4.OA.3 and MP.1, 3, & 4.

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November 7th, 2012

Project-Based Classrooms

project-based classroomFollowing up on last week's post, this video continues to discuss the best strategies for creating a project-based classroom. Teachers have been using project-based tasks and lesson plans for decades, but project learning has become very popular because it teaches students to critically think and problem solve--increasingly important skills in the 21st century economy.

Traditionally, teachers have become educators with the expectations that they are the source of knowledge, instruction, and assessment and that students will learn from textbooks and classroom discussion.

Curtis Muraoka, co-director of West Hawai’i Explorations Academy in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, explains:

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October 30th, 2012

Project-Based Learning Schools

project-based learning schoolThis video outlines the development of a framework for building project-based learning schools, where kids learn to do first, and to know second.

“We always hear that you’ll never know everything there is to know, and knowledge increases geometrically. So if you take that into account, why are we trying to have kids focus on content? We really should be having them focus on skills.  In order to be competitive in the global market, it’s more about skills than about knowledge.”

In this segment, teachers and students at West Hawai’i Explorations Academy participate together in project-based learning. West Hawai’i Explorations Academy is a hands-on, student-centered, open classroom learning environment where students learn by doing.

Project-based learning is based on rigorous, experiential learning through authentic classroom projects. This instructional method challenges students with in-depth, open-ended questions designed to promote inquiry-based problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Heather Nakakura, co-director of West Hawai’i Explorations Academy in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i, describes the genesis of the academy


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October 25th, 2012

Equity, Innovation, and Mentoring: Incentives and Impact

equity innovation and mentoring incentives and impactBlue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate (BRMA) is a district-wide support program designed to improve the achievement of students of color through a focus on multiple developmental realms. To accomplish this, Blue Ribbon has instituted the core and enrichment components discussed in previous segments. This segment will discuss Blue Ribbon’s incentives for student participation and the impact of Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate.

Graig Meyer, director of BRMA, explains the incentive program: “The final component in Blue Ribbon is what we call our  incentive component and the incentive component is scholarships.

“The first type of scholarship is what we call an enrichment scholarship. And that’s a scholarship that’s available to students while they’re currently enrolled in the program between the grades of four through 12. We’re trying to even the playing field between our students and students for more affluent families, so if our students want to take a music lesson or an art lesson, they want to go to summer camp, they want to go on a class trip some place, they want to play on a sports team where it requires a league fee or a uniform, they can apply to us for scholarship funding to take advantage of those opportunities.”

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October 16th, 2012

Equity, Innovation, and Mentoring: Enrichment Components, Part 2

equity, innovation, and mentoringBlue Ribbon was initially created as a basic mentorship program that focused on the Mentee, Parent, and Mentor relationship. However, as more complex student needs became apparent, the program expanded to include enrichment components to address those needs. The previous segment discussed academic support and college and career exposure. This segment will discuss the components of social and cultural enrichment, as well as leadership development.

“The next enrichment component is social and cultural enrichment. And in this, we’re trying to supplement what the mentors are doing to broaden the kids’ horizons,” says Graig Meyer.

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October 8th, 2012

Enhancing Learning through Enrichment Components

equity, innovation, and mentoring: enhancing learning through enrichment components"Over time, we started to build on other supports around that core component to bolster the rest of the program and help our students reach their developmental potential in other realms," says Graig Meyer, director of Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate.

Blue Ribbon Mentor­‐Advocate offers four enrichment components: Academic Support, Social and Cultural Enrichment, College and Career Exposure, and Leadership Development. This segment discusses two of these components that target students’ academic development: Academic Support, and College and Career Exposure.

Meyer says, "The first enrichment component is academic support. Any student who has any grade below a B, even one grade below a B is required to have tutoring." 

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October 1st, 2012

Equity, Innovation, and Mentoring: Purpose and Core Components

equity, innovation, and mentoring"In 1993, our school system disaggregated its achievement scores by race for the first time," recount Graig Meyers, director of one of the most successful mentoring programs known as Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate. "And when they did, they saw that we had a significant achievement gap between our white students and our African American students. There was a task force called the Blue Ribbon Task Force on the achievement of African American students then that was charged with creating a set of strategies for the district to close that achievement gap. And our Blue Ribbon name comes from that Blue Ribbon Task Force."

Beginning in 1995, Blue Ribbon Mentor-­‐ Advocate was sponsored by the Chapel Hill-­Carrboro City Schools as an innovative support program designed to promote successful development and improve achievement among students of color.

Graig continues, "The program was created with this simple model that we would have mentors for kids who worked like a community-­based mentor from a typical mentoring agency, a non-­profit. But the mentors and the parents would also be trained to advocate with each other in school. And that our in-­school program would provide these students with some additional assistance to help them academically through that advocacy role."

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September 26th, 2012

Equity, Innovation, and Mentoring: Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocates

Equity, Innovation, and Mentoring: Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate

Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate (BRMA) is a district-wide student support program designed to improve the achievement of African-American and Latino students by promoting success in multiple developmental realms. BRMA provides students with mentoring, advocacy, tutoring, social and cultural enrichment, college and career preparation, leadership development, and college scholarships. BRMA's intervention model is based in social work and educational theories that emphasize the importance of developing the strengths of youths to fulfill their potential for learning and development. Since its inception in 1995, BRMA has been lauded for excellence in mentoring and school-community partnerships at the national, state, and local levels. 100% of BRMA graduates have enrolled in some form of post-secondary education.

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September 17th, 2012

Finding the Volume of Cylinders, Cones, and Spheres

common core math standards classroom exampleIn this segment, Kimberly Snowball, an 8th grade Math teacher at Campbell County Middle School in Alexandria, Kentucky presents a lesson about formulas for the volume of cones, cylinders, and spheres. Kimberly’s lesson is aligned with 8th Grade Common Core Math Standard Geometry nine, as well as Standards for Mathematical Practice two and eight.

Kimberly Snowball begins with her students by reminding the of their previous lesson: "On Friday, we talked about surface area. We needed to know surface area because we needed to be able to find the base area, to be able to calculate volume. Today our learning target, as we see up there is our students will be able to informally prove the relationship between a cylinder, a cone, and a sphere. So, first I want you to draw those three images. A cylinder, a cone, and a sphere; and label them on your whiteboards."

"Our standards that we are going to be integrating in the lesson today," Snowball explains to educators on Common Core 360, "was what we consider the 8G9 where they have to informally prove the formulas for a sphere, a cone, and cylinder. 

"The goal is, by the end of the class, they’ll be able to make the relationships between‐‐if they know the formula for a cylinder that they will then be able to judge or come up with the other two formulas for a sphere and the cone."

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September 10th, 2012

Cricket Investigation

common core standards SL.4.1, W.4.8, W.4.10In this segment, Barbara Hollenbeck, a fourth grade teacher at Kerrick Elementary in Louisville, Kentucky, facilitates a science lesson in which her students classify crickets as insects. Barbara aligns her lesson with Common Core ELA standards Speaking and Listening 4.1, Writing 4.8, and Writing 4.10.

Hollenbeck explains, "We are beginning to do the food chain. We have explored soil. We have explored plants and seeds, and we’re creating our own terrarium."

Barbara’s morning message invites students to review and discuss the life science concepts they have learned. Today, the students explore new concepts as they add crickets to their terrariums.

Through their discussion in groups and as a class, Barbara’s students progress towards Speaking andListening standard 4.1 by building on others’ ideas and clearly expressing their own. They now move to the hypothesis-­‐testing phase of the activity by gathering and recording evidence of the crickets’ anatomy.

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September 4th, 2012

Common Core Classrooms: Writing, Speaking, and Listening

common core classrooms video 1In this segment, Yvonne Copprue‐McLeod, a 5th grade teacher at Harriet Tubman Elementary in Newark, New Jersey, guides students as they create a segment for Kids Witness News. This student‐produced news segment embodies the Common Core emphasis on project‐based learning and technology. This activity is aligned with Common Core standards Writing 5.2b, and d, and Speaking & Listening 5.4, 5.5, and 5.6.

Kids Witness News is a video education program developed by Panasonic Corporation. Students research an environmental topic, write a script, act,direct, edit, and produce their own film. Panasonic provides the digital equipment. Copprue-

McLeod says of the lesson style, "They’re their own cameramen. They've created a storyboard. At home they did research, um, regarding our planet, they've done everything, I just sat back and watched them do their own lesson."

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August 27th, 2012

Equitable Instructional Leaders

increasing teacher effectiveness equitable instructional leaders"You know, my wife kind of pushed me into this job," says Ray Chavez, principal of the turnaround Apollo Middle School in Tucson, Arizona. "She works at one of our feeder elementary schools. And she told me, 'I’m sick of seeing our kids prepared to go to the next step and they come here and they would like flop, really preparing them to drop out of school”. And she told me, “Mr. Chicano, go and put your money where your mouth is and take that school and go do something with it.' So it was nuts.

"That first, the year before I got here, I came to visit the place. The place was crazy. I mean there are not very many other words you can use to describe it. It was out of hand. We saw it. I saw it. I went home and told her about it. I said, 'Oh, I don’t know about this.' And that’s what she told me. She goes, 'You make all this commotion. You go out in these marches and do these things. And what do you get out of it? I mean really, really, come on. You heighten awareness. But do you really make a change permanently in kids?' God, what are you going to do when your wife tells you that?"

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August 6th, 2012

Teachers Taking on Teaching

increasing teacher effectiveness"They declared restructure, and then they hired me," recounts Ray Chavez of Apollo Middle School in Tucson, Arizona. "So I’m the one that was able to vet out the teachers, uh, recruit and bring in the new ones. But we found out right away, the reputation of the school and just the things were, the way that things happen people were coming in here and like, you wouldn’t have made the first cut anywhere, but you’re our first pick because, they were upright, breathing, and they cared."

His assistant principal, Tammy Christopherson explains the array of teachers in the school: "We had very, very low skills actually with the teachers. But what we did have was heart. We had teachers who just wanted to be here. We had teachers who wanted to see it succeed."

"It would be a really shameful thing for us to not care enough to not teach that kid  the stuff he’s going to need to be competitive. He has to. So if you really care about a kid, teach him all that stuff," Chavez says.


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July 25th, 2012

Decision-Making Cycle

teacher effectiveness through professional learning"The test scores have steadily improved over about the last 5 years since we implemented the study groups," says Cherie Hebert, an English teacher in Destrehan, Louisiana.

Denese Carter, a principal in Alexandria, Louisiana, also describes the impact of more effective professional learning groups in her own school: "I can tell the difference that this year when my students took the test, they were much more focused on the math portion than maybe they were last year. You know, a lot of times when you look at your kids and they just get that glazed look over their face, or you can tell that they're really not focusing on it and just trying to muddle through? I can at least say that this year I know that they were really focused and really working."

 But creating effective professional learning groups has its difficulties. Principal Ira C. Weston of Brooklyn, New York, says, "One of the growing pains we went through was that, if you leave too much latitude with the groups to choose their own needs, then you spread out the impact that the groups have on the total school community. So right now we are working, all groups are working on one teaching strategy, promoting thinking, and student engagement through the use of graphic organizers. All groups are working on that."


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July 17th, 2012

Effective Assessments

Teacher Effectiveness through Effective AssessmentsIn teaching and learning, effective assessment not only identifies what students have achieved, but guides teachers in what needs to be taught to engender continuous student improvement.

Bonnie M. Davis, an education consultant and author, says, "Assessment’s about every child learning. We want all kids to make A's, it's not about having a [grade] “curve.” We know from the research that every child can learn at a high level if we give them the support, and strategies, and scaffolding they need to learn.

"I think if we try to make all of our assessment in our classrooms authentic assessment we're on the right track. And we're setting the stage for the kids to do better on the standardized test."

Assessment has traditionally been seen as a bothersome element of teaching that occurs once or twice a year, but when a school becomes data-driven, assessment becomes a motivating force.

Debbie Kelley is an assistant principal in Richardson, Texas. She weighs in on the matter: "We are a data driven school. It, it's sad to think that TAC scores, and benchmark assessments drive a lot of that because it should be that classroom piece, it should be that teacher's assessment that drives that. But, that's not nearly as powerful as looking down here and seeing 17% increase over something that happened last year, or a 21% increase." 

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July 11th, 2012

Teacher Effectiveness for Targeting Student Learning

teacher effectiveness for targeting student learningInformal observations helps to build trust and rapport, because the principal is involved in snapshots of daily life in the classroom.

“What we find is that the most helpful piece is informal observation,” says Marilyn McGuire, an education consultant who works with administrators on effective evaluations and observations. “Do informal observations every day, at least one every day for fifteen minutes. You can be missing for fifteen minutes and no one’s getting too shook about where the principal is or where the administrator is. And then you get around to virtually every class to see what’s going on.”

Just as teachers are performing informal evaluations every day with students, administrators can do the same thing with teachers on their daily walkthroughs.

“Just like their classroom assessment helps teachers understand progress in the classroom, you’re doing the same thing with your walkthroughs as an administrator when you work with staff in their classrooms.”

It is important to distinguish between formal evaluations and a drop-in visit.

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July 2nd, 2012

Teacher Effectiveness through Professional Learning

whole-faculty study groups

“Everyone participates,” says Carlene Murphy, a whole-faculty study group developer in Augusta, Georgia. “This is making the whole organization stronger. The collective synergy from the work that is going on in the study group makes the whole school stronger, so everyone participates—the counselor, media specialist, the special teachers, the resource teachers.

Ideally, each study group should consist of about five people representing various grades or possibly all from the same grade.

There is a direct link between what is happening in the study groups and student learning.  The guiding question for Whole Faculty Study Groups is, "What do my students need me to do to help them increase their learning?"

Anita Kissinger, a staff development director in Springfield, Missouri, says, “I had the good fortune of coming across the Whole Faculty Study Group model. And in looking at that it was so aligned with what we were looking at as a system, to first look at data and identify student needs, and then align everything we're doing in terms of our professional learning experiences based on what those student needs are, that we felt like it was a perfect match for our school improvement planning process.

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June 26th, 2012

Standards-Based Schools as a Foundation of the Common Core Standards

Standards-Based Schools as a Function of the Common CoreIn SBS classrooms, learning is guided by the Common Core expectations and is achieved through student-driven activities.  Students’ learning levels are determined by their own pace, not by grade levels.

The Common Core Standards act as a guide for proficiency that builds on concepts from one grade to the next. The Common Core Standards are met within the standards-based schools (SBS) classrooms. The student-led process and teacher facilitators make the SBS classroom unique.

Common Core State Standards have been set in place to define exactly what students need to know to enable them to succeed academically in credit-bearing, college entry courses and in workforce training programs. These standards represent a set of expectations for student knowledge and skills in English language arts and mathematics.

While most states have adopted the Common Core Standards, many still have questions about how to implement them into curriculum. Kansas City District, as an early adopter of the Common Core Standards, has incorporated a blended approach to make the Standards a key component of the curriculum. They have integrated these Common Core Standards into their standards-based schools.

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June 21st, 2012

Teacher-Student Conferencing

teacher-student conferencing in standards-based schoolsSteve Fraley, an educator, explains, “Conferencing for us is really a time where we can sit down with one student, talk about what they’re thinking and kind of get a feel of what they know.”

Gretchen Penner is a teacher at King/Weeks Elementary in Kansas City, Missouri. She explains conferencing more in-depth.

“Conferencing for the younger students, I think, looks a little bit different than for intermediate students,” she explains. “For me it’s not set, you sign up that you are ready to conference with Miss Penner. It’s more while we are working on things; we might do evidence in a small group and we’re conferencing at the same time. It may be this is, these are, going over the bar graph, this is what we’ve completed and this is where we need to go, and what you think you can work on out of the choices that we have next,” she says. “Conferencing is not quite as scheduled for the primary students; it’s more on an as needed basis. But the students definitely are conferenced with, and they know where they are, where they need to go and what they’re working on,” she says.

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June 12th, 2012

Functions of a Standards-Based School

functions of a standards-based schoolIn standards-based schools, education is a partnership between students and teachers. Teachers group students by instructional level, not grade level. Teachers approve progression based on mastery of content, not time. Teachers act as facilitators; students assume responsibility for goal setting and proficiency on specific learning targets. Together they create learning-centered environments in the classroom for students to personalize their learning goals and communicate their progress. Teachers and students conference to allow students to demonstrate mastery. Teachers and students track evidence and learning targets.

Mary Esselman, the Assistant Superintendent for the Kansas City Missouri School District in Kansas City, Missouri discusses how others might view standard-based schools.

“I think a lot of people actually think that standards-based school just means that we work on standards and show mastery,” she explains. “But for us it’s really different and we’ve started talking about it more as student-centered learning.”

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May 29th, 2012

How to Stop Bullies: Student Support

how to stop bullying in schools by providing student supportAlthough the desired outcome is to have strong students who are assertive enough to stand up to bullies; adults must realize that many students aren't ready to do this. Adults play a key role in helping students who are bullied, and in creating a healthy climate for the school and community.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website "Stop Bullying Now" it is important for educators to lend support, but not in public. Bullying is about power, and lending too much support in public may influence how a child is perceived by their peers. It is most helpful to lend your supportive words and gestures in private.
Spending time with the student will open up positions where the educator can listen, get facts and assess the students feelings about the situation. It will also increase trust between the student and the educator.
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May 21st, 2012

How to Stop Bullies: Top 10 Strategies

how to stop bullying in schools top 10 strategiesThe classroom is a model of society, an area where students learn how to interact with peers, develop learning, and implement skills that will impact the rest of their lives. Teachers have a unique opportunity to educate and support students in this society. It is important that students feel safe to develop and learn in an environment free of criticism and bullying.  In this segment we will review ten strategies that represent “best practice” in bully prevention and intervention. These strategies come from the U.S. Health and Human Resources website “Stop-Bullying Now” and are base in part upon the work of Susan P. Limber, and her article “What Works and Doesn't Work in Bullying Prevention and Intervention."

The first strategy is to focus on the social environment of the school. In order to reduce bullying, it is important to change the social climate of the school and the social norms with regards to bullying. This requires the efforts of everyone in the school environment—teachers, administrators, counselors, school nurses and other non-teaching staff: such as bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and school librarians. Parents and students are also key in this effort. Everyone has an opportunity to influence the environment of their school. 

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May 7th, 2012

How to Stop Bullies: Cyber-Bullying

how to stop bullies in schoolsThe nation was shocked in 2008 as the story of a thirteen-year-old girl committing suicide, as a result of being bullied with online messages, hit the airwaves. Megan Meier, of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri died a month before her fourteenth birthday, after a fall out with an “online friend.” Unfortunately the sixteen-year-old boy “Josh Evans” never existed. He was a fabrication of Lori Drew the mother of a former friend of Megan, her daughter, and a fellow employee of Drew. The MySpace account was created to “get information about [Megan] to later humiliate her.”

This was one of the first reported cases of cyberbullying, involving the use of a tech savvy resource.  With the increase in social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter, access to bullying a student doesn’t end when they go home. Instant messaging, texting and e-mail—all of which are useful tools for communication—are now being used as weapons in the arsenal of bullies. 

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April 30th, 2012

How to Stop Bullies: Intro to Bullying

how to stop bullies video 1There is an infection intruding in the learning environment, which is negatively affecting the well-being of students.  The intrusion isn’t an unknown force; it’s their own classmates. It is bullying.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, violence has declined in schools, but incidents of bullying have increased by five percent between the years of nineteen ninety-nine to two thousand and three. The N.E.A. has stated that bullying has been identified as a major concern by schools across the U.S. A., and the growing trend of “cyber bullying” has filled the news. In the past these issues have largely been dismissed with a “boys will be boys” mentality. However, in recent years an audible outcry of parents, students, and teachers has called for an end to this plague.

This compliance issue will deal with “bullying,” and its tech-savvy counterpart, cyber bullying. In this segment we will give a definition and overview of this issue, followed by segments 2 and 3 which give an in depth coverage of cyber bullying and intervention.

Segment four will outline individual follow-up and support for students. 

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April 23rd, 2012

Creating Meaningful Student Achievement Goals

student achievement best practices video 4Effective teamwork leads to creating meaningful student achievement goals. As renowned education expert Mike Schmoker puts it, “a goal is a dream with a deadline.”

James L. Kieffer, Superintendent at Glendale Union High School District in Glendale, Arizona, discusses the importance of emphasizing student achievement in schools.

“When you say you focus on student achievement,” he explains, “that becomes a driving force and that's the question you constantly ask.  Whatever the setting might be—be it members of the top administrators of the district or principals' meeting, or whatever— discussion is going on.”

Dr. Schmoker shares the findings of Katzenbock and Smith.                         

“They said if you want to be just a team, and not get much done and be down here,” he gestures toward the floor,  “then fine. But if you want to be up here,” he raises his hand above his head, ”a real team or a high performing team, guess what the number one factor was? The number one factor was, you've got a measurable, measurable goal.”

“What these guys call goals that aren't measurable, they call them delusional goals. I'd like to say as go your goals so goes your school year. If your goals are goofy you're gonna have a goofy school year. Things seem to go all over the place.”

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April 16th, 2012

No Excuses! How to Increase Minority Student Achievement

student achievement best practices video 3School Culture where all students succeed at high levels is designed to be an “inclusive environment” for students and teachers alike. Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum suggests that “creating climates of engagement” makes an inclusive environment.

Beverly Daniel Tatum is prresident of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She says, "I think it's important to think about what we mean by engagement. When somebody feels alienated they're not likely to be learning very well. It's hard to feel intellectually engaged if you're socially alienated. And so when we think about creating a climate of engagement we want to think about that in terms of both social engagement as well as intellectual engagement."

Mary Cavalier, principal of Amherst Regional Middle School in Amherst, Massachusetts, says, "Our students understand that what's happening in the classroom is important to them, and valuable to them, and something that they should participate in. And then we make it possible for them to participate by how we teach it. It’s universal. And when we see a kid who is kind of on the edge of questioning whether they, that kid's going to cop out on it, we pull out the stops. We insist that they stay after school. We have Willma Ortese calling home every other day. We help them with their homework. We set them up with the, with the literacy coaches who will really coach them through that. We don't let them disengage."

An inclusive environment is only effective if it helps students feel safe within the school and then motivates them to succeed.

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April 9th, 2012

Assessing Policies, Practices, and Procedures

student achievement best practices videoBy assessing policies, practices, programs, interventions, and school culture, schools will extend data's reach as they move deeper into the use of data to close the achievement gap.

Dr. Ruth S. Johnson, professor at California State University talks about the usefulness of data in education.

“What does it look like in an underachieving school,” she asks, “and what does it look like in a higher achieving school? And there are differences in the behavior of people in schools. So you look at that and that's a piece of data. You look at expectations and you look at instruction. Is the instruction responsive to kids from different backgrounds? As we look at our curriculum we should ask, what is the rigor of the curriculum? We look at where the school is on the dimension around use of data? It's not looking at data when the test scores come out. Everybody looks at the data and says we did better or we did worse than last year. But is there a data used culture in the school where, when people are sitting down and looking at student work, or looking at what's going on in the school, that they're informed and that they're getting information to inform their work.”

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April 2nd, 2012

Process Student Responses

student achievement best practices processing student responsesProcessing responses includes providing feedback, and drawing questions from students.
Teachers need to provide feedback as students answer questions; however, various types of feedback to questions are possible. But as teachers respond to students, they must also respond to students' individual needs. For example, high achieving students likely do not need as much praise and validation as students who are struggling. The praise must be sincere, credible, and specific.
Though teachers must encourage every student, it is important for the teacher to correct wrong answers or wrong ideas about a principle or topic.
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March 26th, 2012

Evaluation as a Form of Continuous Learning

teacher evaluation picture job-embedded professional development for teachers"A good professional approach here to the evaluation is to look at the positive aspects," says Jill Morgan, an education consultant in Swansea, Wales. "Ok there are always things you can find to criticise. You can always find dust if you want to look for it. You know that's [there], but not having that attitude and saying, 'Gosh, she has such a lot of knowledge that I can make use of,' makes all the difference. Let's take a positive approach to evaluation and supervision."

Evaluation is a natural extension of classroom practice focused on improving services to students.

"Evaluation," Jill Morgan continues. "Let's shift this to think about evaluation of students. And then we've thikn about evaluation of adults. Why do we evaluate students?"

"To see their progress," an audience member says.

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March 19th, 2012

Examine Teaching Structures that Work

job-embedded professional development for teachers examine structures that work

As educators examine structures that work, they will discover what suits their own needs best. A rigid structure of training may not be necessary, as refinements can be woven into the good practices that already exist.

Janice Garnett, director of staff development in Omaha, Nebraska,  says, “ I love what Vera Blake said, ‘It's just good teaching.’ Now we put a  label on good teaching, we call it differentiated instruction.”

Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska began a five—year implementation plan with 16 elementary schools.

Janelle K. Mullen is the assistant superintendent of Curriculum & Learning in Omaha Public Schools Omaha. She says, “We asked for them to have an application process uh, and have the, a sign off by staff. And we took 16 schools that we believed would really benefit from this, that were very committed. And that was our first wave.

Janice Garnett says, “We provide the workshops, some demonstrations, some practice time, coming back, and then reflecting on that. If they buy into that model, then we are supportive of helping do some site based professional development for those schools to help them in those areas where they're struggling, or they have challenges.

Janelle Mullen adds, “These schools then had a three-day in-service over the summer. They brought their differentiation team and presented powerful, powerful sessions. The enthusiasm just grew day after day even after those three days.”

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March 12th, 2012

Using the Applied Differentiation Map

job embedded professional development for teachers using the applied differentiation mapMichelle Goeglein is a fourth grade teacher at Woodstock Elementary in Murray, Utah. She used the applied differentiation map to organize a lesson and activities on the water cycle.  To aid in her planning, Michelle made a large version of the map.

"What I want the kids to know is that the water cycle is a closed system, but it is very diverse in nature. When I was doing the pre-assessments I noticed that most of them had this perfect circle going around and around and that was the idea they had in their head, so I based it on that type of a misconception. I wanted them to see that even though it’s a closed system, it’s very diverse in nature. So they’re going to take on the role of a water drop today. I didn’t call any of them drips because it’s a no put-down kind of place.

"So, they are going to take on the role of a water drop or a water droplet, as the case may be, and cycle through playing this water cycle game. What I want them to understand is diverse nature of the water cycle, and I want them to understand the processes that take place when water changes from a solid to a liquid to a gas, and to describe those different processes. So that’s where I started."

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March 5th, 2012

Job-Embedded Professional Development Benefits for Teachers


This week's video on job-embedded professional development talks a fair bit about PD 360, but there are two things you need to know: first, these people aren't paid. They really do feel this way about PD 360. But that's not why I'm posting this video this week, and that's the second thing you need to know. Second, I am posting this video, because I want to know how you are making use of your professional development hours.
Anthony Bradfield, a literary coach in Newark, New Jersey, says in the video, "Sometimes  you can go home, you know, have your cup of coffee, and instead ofwatching a TV show, you can watch something that will  help improve your teaching. And that’s really had an impact on our teachers." 
Principal Norma Fair-Brown says, "So within an 80-minute PLC or an 80-minute common planning, depending on what the results are from the previous one, they actually can watch one or two, you know, depending on the length of the videos, and they’ll have time to still talk about it. It’s not just that, you know, “we have these questions”, or 'we’d like to discuss this and we have don’t have anybody to talk to because it’s time to go.' So it allows for scheduling of the time that you have for, for professional development a little bit differently."
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February 27th, 2012

Classroom Management: The Law of Least Intervention

law of least intervention students working together

The proactive teacher uses the law of least intervention, a way of managing minor classroom disruptions without giving them a lot of attention.

"All that means is we want to use the least amount of interruption to the classroom environment," says Carol Cummings, a renowned leader in teacher education. "That means the least amount of negative feeling tone so that we don't destroy the learning environment for the majority of the kids in our classroom."

The law of least intervention incorporates management strategies such as the use of physical presence, automatic scanning, cuing, and avoiding power struggles. A quick way of quieting problems before they happen is showing a physical presence. In the same way that adults check to make sure they are obeying traffic laws when an officer is nearby, students tend to pay attention when an adult is present.

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February 21st, 2012

Addressing Misbehavior

Addressing Misbehavior in the Classroom - Classroom Management

How misbehavior is addressed makes all the difference for a beginning teacher.

“Kirwin and Mendlore set up these four goals that I honestly and truly believe in,” says Carol Cummings, a renowned leader in teacher education, “and I think we can handle those behaviors.”

These are the four goals of addressing misbehavior: maintain student dignity; create a lasting change; keep cool by being a model of social and emotional intelligence, and use punishment as a rare and last resort.

“Maintain student dignity,” Cummings begins, “because once you strip a child of their dignity in class, what's going to follow? More misbehavior. Increased misbehavior. Did you know that kids would rather look bad in front of their peers than dumb in front of their peers? There are some kids, if they feel humiliated in front of their peers, they will continue to act bad. I can exacerbate misbehavior just by how I handle it.” 

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February 13th, 2012

Teaching Social and Emotional Behaviors

teaching social and emotional behaviorClassroom Management - How to Win Students Over- Elementary Edition

Segment 5 of 8 of this prograrm. Most students lack the opportunity to learn good social and emotional skills.
 -Kindergarten students learn emotional and social behaviors. (0:28)
 -Support provided for each student.
 -Emotional and social behaviors need to be learned. (1:59)
 -Social skills should be practiced throughout the year. (2:38)
 -5th grade students role-play behavior problems. (4:30)
 -Anger management strategies. (5:19)
 -5th grade students learn social skills from literature. (6:05)
Length: 7:05
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February 6th, 2012

Proactive Classroom Management

Proactive Classroom ManagementProactive classroom management provides a structure for new teachers who are winning students over, not winning over them. Proactive classroom management is anticipating problems or interruptions before they occur and finding ways to eliminate or lessen their impact on learning.

Dr. Carol Cummings is a renowned leader in teacher education. She conducts workshops world-wide on classroom management.

“What can I do,” she asks an audience full of educators, “to prevent that from happening or at least minimize it's impact in the classroom? Is it harder to stop misbehavior while it's happening or is it better to prevent it from happening in the first place?"

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January 30th, 2012

Content Leader Network

content leader network common core standards training

We have established a strong system for helping teachers and educators get familiar with the new Common Core Standards here in Kentucky,” says Felicia Cumings Smith, associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education. Our system will also help them understand the Standards deeply so that we can translate that to teaching and learning in the classroom.
“Senate Bill l really required us to look at this whole system between assessment, instruction and new standards,” adds Karen Kidwell, project manager for Kentucky’s System of Leadership Networks. “We knew that we really needed a very systemic model that would involve all the key players. We really have to take our time because as much as you would like for things to just happen, you have to give people processing time, you have to give them struggle time so that we can learn from that and make adjustments.
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January 23rd, 2012

Creating State Unity

common core creating state unity”I think Kentucky was poised for it, due to legislation,” adds Terry Holliday, Kentucky Commissioner of Education. “Senate Bill 1, was a major piece of legislation in 2009 that said we had to have new standards in place for '11-'12. And we had to have new assessments in place '11-'12.”

“All of that was captured in the writing and the authoring of the Common Core Standards,” explains Felicia Cumings Smith, “Kentucky had a senate bill one legislation that charged us to move forward with this particular action. We've included a lot of partners along the way. And when you do that I think it's easier to make sure that the shifts happen sooner than later with implementation.”

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January 16th, 2012

Globalizing Our PLCs

common core professional learning communitiesThe Common Core Standards have brought new alignment to educational practice. Learning targets, instruction, assessment, data analysis and intervention, are being aligned to the same standards, across school, district and state lines.  There has never been a better time for educators from across the nation to create a national forum, a national professional learning community, for sharing best educational practice for the sake of every child in every school across America.  

A Professional Learning Community is a group of practitioners who share a common mission, purpose or goal.  Members of a PLC regularly engage in authentic dialogue, supporting one another along a path towards continuous improvement.

However, because of the high demands placed on educators at every level, PLCs are able to flourish only where time is carved out of the school day, and set aside for formal gatherings that are scheduled into district calendars.  Even then, teachers often find it hard to take the time away from their classrooms, students, and families to be fully present during these formal meetings.

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January 9th, 2012

Impacting the Teaching and Learning Cycle

common core teaching and learning styleThe focus of educational practice has shifted to an emphasis on teaching and learning in the classroom.  At the end of the day, educational outcomes are shaped, defined and driven by what happens in the classroom between teacher and student. 

In meeting the educational needs of our nation’s children, teachers are on the front lines.  Though states set policy and allocate funds, districts strategically plan, and directors of curriculum, content specialists and instructional coaches build capacity, it is ultimately the school-level educators  who determine the quality of the day-to-day classroom experience of their students.  It is the teachers who create classroom culture, define learning targets, plan lessons, deliver instruction and assess learning.

Many teachers view their work from a lens that acknowledges the cyclical nature of teaching and learning.  This teaching and learning cycle guides the definition of learning targets, the design of instructional delivery, the creation and administration of assessments and the selection of targeted interventions in response to individual student needs.

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January 2nd, 2012

College and Career Readiness

common core college and career readinessThe new Common Core Standards define a common destination where all students are expected to arrive by the time they graduate from high school. The College and Career Readiness Standards, also called Anchor Standards in the English Language Arts Common Core, describe the destination: the essential proficiencies students need to ensure adequate preparation for college and career success.

These college and career readiness proficiencies are intentionally aligned with the highest order thinking skills such as application, analysis, and evaluation, and merged with essential twenty-first century skills such as collaboration, communication, adaptability, and critical thinking.

The steps of the journey towards post-secondary readiness are clearly marked along the way by grade-level milestones.  These milestones are designed to be sequential and progressive, but they are also recursive.

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