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Solution Tree blog post authors have been personally invited to share their expertise. All contributing experts have firsthand experience driving positive school change and impacting student achievement.

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Student can use eWriters to improve literacy

Using eWriters to support reading and writing instruction

Categories: Instruction, Literacy, Technology

(Note: This post is co-authored by Kristine E. Pytash and Richard E. Ferdig, and guest authors John Dunlosky and Karl W. Kosko of Kent State University.)

Whether children are reading electronic storybooks, creating interactive videos and multimedia stories, or reading and responding to standardized tests in digital formats, technology is influencing what it looks like to read and write and how teachers and parents are using new digital tools to transform reading and writing instruction. As researchers and teachers, we are interested in these various ways technology and digital media support reading and writing instruction. Recently, we’ve been studying eWriters and how these tools might influence children’s writing acquisition and composition process. Read more

Student Learning, Authentic Pedagogy, School Organizational Capacity, External Support

A School That Takes Student Learning Seriously

Categories: PLC

(This is a guest post from Dr. Angel de Dios, a parent of a student at Mason Crest Elementary School, a recognized Model PLC.)

Actions are supposed to speak louder than words, but words are seen in media much more often. Worse, society with its limited attention span and general lack of critical thinking is now at the mercy of sound bites. What works in education is therefore frequently missed as a careful and thoughtful attention to details is usually absent.

Twenty years ago, the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools published a report synthesizing education research to find what it takes to reform schools successfully. The main authors of the report drew the following diagram to highlight what is necessary for improving schools.

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A book as an IV bag

Reading Recovery

Categories: PLC

Rebecca DuFour was recently contacted by an interventionist at an elementary school just beginning the PLC process. A new master schedule has been created that includes (1) weekly time for team collaboration and (2) daily intervention and extension time for all students. The Reading Recovery specialist is currently scheduled to work with first-grade Reading Recovery students one-on-one each morning, which is required to maintain Reading Recovery certification. During the afternoon each day, the Reading Recovery specialist will work with flexible groups of students identified for targeted support based on data from team-developed common formative assessments.

The interventionist asked for information from PLC elementary schools that have intervention plans that successfully incorporate Reading Recovery. Rebecca reached out to Jacquie Heller, a reading specialist at Mason Crest Elementary School. The following is Jacquie’s response:

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Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change

1Comment tail

7 Leadership Competencies for Whole-System Change (A Review)

Categories: School Improvement

(This post by Carri Schneider was originally published on Getting Smart.)

There are leaders, and there are EdLeaders. Then there are leaders among EdLeaders–like Lyle Kirtman and Michael Fullan. This expert duo, applying decades of work in the field, recently came together to write and release a powerful guidebook for leading systemic (and sustainable) change.

Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change, published by Solution Tree (a Getting Smart advocacy partner), is an important contribution to the field for a number of reasons.

Kirtman & Fullan’s book is:

  • backed by research;
  • situated in the context of learning innovations;
  • supported by real stories from practicing leaders;
  • grounded in a whole-system approach to change;
  • intended to spark action; and
  • built to inspire.

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Grouping by abilities

To Ability Group or Not to Ability Group? That Is the Question!

Categories: PLC

From Richard DuFour and Rebecca DuFour:

At a recent PLC at WorkTM Institute that included over 1,500 educators representing 14 states, it became evident that ability grouping for homeroom placement and/or core content instruction remains a prevalent practice in many schools and districts. Students are divided into low, middle, and high groups (or tracks, levels, etc.) based on last year’s test scores and/or teacher recommendations. The institute faculty challenged this practice citing John Hattie’s research in Visible Learning, which concludes that ability grouping is a detrimental practice for students—one that ensures that some students will not learn at high levels. Ability grouping is clearly a practice that is misaligned with advancing the mission that PLC schools embrace—ensuring high levels of learning for all.

At least one team of elementary teachers at the institute was convinced that ability grouping was not in the best interest of students or teachers, not only because of the research but also because of their own experiences. They explained that ability grouping was an expected practice in their school and district. During the institute, members of this team interviewed different faculty members, read Hattie’s synthesis of the research, and asked for the name of a school to contact that could share a different approach to grouping students for instruction. We recommended they contact the educators at Mason Crest Elementary in Fairfax County, Virginia. Jennifer Deinhart, K–8 mathematics specialist at Mason Crest, provided the following timely response. Our hope is that schools of every level across the world will take Jennifer’s great insights to heart.

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