Blog

Redesigning Our Schools: How Can We Do That?

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I recently had the opportunity to attend the RTI at Work Institute™ in Edmonton, Canada. One of the great things about attending a Solution Tree Institute is the opportunity to learn alongside educators from all over North America. The opportunity to hear different perspectives and ways of thinking around the school improvement process is an invaluable learning experience. Read more

Collaboratively Designing and Delivering Lessons: The Instructional Diamond

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Since the work of Madeline Hunter, a lot has changed in education. We now have ample resources and robust technologies that can provide engaging, vivid experiences for students. More important, we have much more research about teaching and learning than we ever have previously. We know more about how students learn. Even with all these changes, the framework for building lesson plans and delivering instruction has not evolved. Read more

Are you a tutor or teacher?

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In one of the schools where I work, the principal once commented that it makes a difference if you believe yourself to be a tutor or a teacher. We discussed it further, and she shared her belief that living as a PLC helped pave the way for many of her teachers to make the shift. Read more

How Hundred Day Plans Sustain a Culture of Continuous Improvement

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You’re feeling good – you have created demand for modeling your school as a PLC and have structures in place to answer the key questions. You are making progress along the PLC journey… Well, you think you are. Or perhaps your PLC is stagnant; you are not seeing progress or you are not sure about how to measure it. Or maybe your school is just beginning the PLC journey and you are questioning how to monitor the first stages, especially since small wins are essential in the beginning to sustain the momentum. Or perhaps you’re wrestling with when and how to lay out the next steps of your school’s improvement work and are trying to determine how it fits into the larger school improvement plan. Read more

Curriculum Pacing – are we focused on coverage or learning?

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My job as a Support Counselor is to help students be able to manage their stress in healthy and productive ways; and as a PLC Associate, I can’t help but think about how different our school will be once we master a shift of practice from teaching to one of learning. Read more

Harnessing the Collaborative Power of the Four Critical Questions of a Professional Learning Community

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With so many demands on curricular teams these days collaborative time can quickly be sacrificed for coordination tasks such as scheduling events, casual dialogues of best practice, rote test modifications, and adjusting curricular pacing guides, to name a few. This kind of collaboration tends to produce shallow curricular changes, narrow instruction adjustments, non-timely remediation, and superficial assessment modifications. Read more

"Are we doing anything important today?" My Instructional Shift From Doing to Learning

In my college education classes—roughly a thousand years ago—I was taught to identify and note behavioral goals in my lesson planning, such as "students will read and discuss Ch. 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird," or "students will write a paragraph discussing characterization in The Great Gatsby." And I would write these activity goals on the board to answer students' perennial question: "What are we doing today?" or more annoyingly, "Are we doing anything important today?" Read more

Opening Doors Leads to Greater Learning

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This past month I have been working with collaborative teams to answer the second question of a professional learning community, “How will we know when they have learned the content?” (DuFour, Eacker, & DuFour, 2008). The teachers are analyzing more than how many students got the correct answer on a common assessment; they are focused on students’ depth of understanding of the content. Teams are analyzing student thinking and the habits of mind aligned to the essential learning standards. These often come from the process standards in content areas that describe the habits of mind teachers must develop in their students (e.g., ELA Capacities, Mathematical Practices, and Science Practices). (CCSS0, 2010 & NGSS, 2013). Read more

Four Ways to Stop Ignoring the Forgotten Fourth Critical Question of a PLC

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One of the first pieces of common vocabulary educators acquire when learning about Professional Learning Communities are the four critical questions. These questions serve as both a big picture . . . Read more

What a Gift!

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Becky’s Recent Experience While sitting in a small open waiting area of a local salon one evening in early January, two young women engrossed in conversation came in and sat beside me. As . . . Read more

GPS: Destination Known

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Last month, our family decided to take a trip to New York City for a three-day visit. Needless to say, we did not have all the time needed to explore everything the city had to offer, so we had to . . . Read more

Success Looks Different in a PLC

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Josslyn arrived as a new student in our second grade, ready to learn, and sporting a pink streak in her dark brown hair. The file showed her previous school had given her extra support as she . . . Read more

High Levels of Learning for All

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Invent a low-cost incubator to reduce infant mortality in India, create a documentary about starring in a West End production, or design and market a product that will revolutionize . . . Read more

Why Teach?

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In the play, Becket, a young man asks the title character for advice regarding the career he should pursue. When Becket suggests teaching, the young man dismisses the idea with the question, . . . Read more

Turning Vision Into Action

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I met with all of the grades 6-12 mathematics teachers in Elk Grove Unified (CA) this morning, while on my way to Grand Rapids to meet up with some great folks in Michigan. Read more