Student Engagement

Integrating Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) and the Lifelong Learning Education (LLE) Framework

Categories: PLC, PLC at Work, Student Engagement

Elliott Seif is the author of Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

 

What are the essential features of professional learning communities (PLCs)?

In many schools today, teachers shut their doors and essentially work alone, providing what they consider to be the best learning possible for their students. While this often gives them the opportunity to provide their students with decent education, it also often gets in the way of creating a collaborative culture in which all teachers work together and each contributes to the larger goal of improving learning for all students. Learning becomes fragmented and segmented when teachers work on their own.

Professional learning communities (PLCs) are designed to counter the separateness of school teaching and learning by creating collaborative teams of teachers who work together to improve learning. The formation of a PLC creates an ongoing process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. Professional learning communities operate under the assumption that the key to improved learning for students is continuous job-embedded learning for educators” (DuFour et al., 2016, p. 10). Read more

Nine Ways to Create Powerful Teaching and Learning

Categories: 21st Century Skills, Authors, Instruction, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

 Elliott Seif is the author of Teaching for Lifelong Learning: How to Prepare Students for a Changing World.

In my various roles in education, I have had direct teaching experience, conducted professional development with hundreds of preservice and practicing educators, and observed and had important discussions with teachers over many years. All these experiences have helped me learn a lot about powerful teaching and learning and what seems to work well for many teachers in many circumstances and situations.

My ideas and suggestions below, based on my many years of experience, will hopefully be helpful to educators and suggest ways to think about powerful teaching and learning. I have classified these suggestions into nine categories, and you may find the categories themselves helpful as a way of thinking about how to improve teaching and learning. Read more

4 Types of Activities-Assessments That Every Teacher Should Know and Use

Categories: Assessment, Instruction, Student Engagement

What kinds of activities best prepare students for a changing and uncertain world? I would like to suggest that four powerful types of activities, each of which can also be used as assessments, should be part of an arsenal of tools that all teachers should develop in order to prepare students for their future. Each incorporates opportunities for students to develop key ideas and understandings, a critical knowledge base, and core reading, research, communication, thinking, and collaboration skills. Each can be adapted for all grade levels.

Open-Ended Assignments

Open-ended assignments pose questions and offer activities that lead students to think and explain rather than give simple yes or no answers (Gardner, 2005). They can be used to provoke interest and curiosity in what is to be learned, to teach content and critical skills, and to provide opportunities for independent and deeper learning. They often provide students with writing opportunities and/or a chance to participate in discussions with multiple possible responses. They are also designed to create new ways of thinking about problems and challenges, allow for alternative possibilities and options, and enable students to be innovative and to think outside the box. Read more

Building a Foundation for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) within Elementary Schools

Categories: Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), Student Engagement

While implementing meaningful and authentic SEL instruction throughout the school day.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) continues to be a hot topic as we move into 2022. Although the concepts around SEL are not new, we are encountering educators and parents whose ideas differ around what it is and what it is not; leading some schools to focus on SEL while others may still not.

As educators, many of us recognize how essential social-emotional learning is both for our students and ourselves. Yet, we have so many other pressing needs throughout the school year, we can find it difficult to prioritize SEL for our students. As we begin to engage in necessary collaborative practices around SEL we may find ourselves designating certain time periods of the school day to focus on SEL but still not seeing a true difference in our students. Why is this? Dufour, et. al. state that collaboration only works and leads to improved results when the people are focused on the right work. So, how do we honor what we know is important and focus on the right work, while also balancing everything else?

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