January 4, 2016

Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.

--Sitting Bull

Happy faces at Study's 2nd quarter graduation

From Dave

David Conley is a leading researcher in the domain of college and career readiness. He authored several books on CCR including College Knowledge (2005), College and Career Ready (2010), and Getting Ready for College, Careers, and the Common Core (2014). He developed a four-part conceptual model, which has evolved into the “four keys to college and career readiness”. I plan to share a brief overview of each of his keys over the next few weeks. The four keys to college and career readiness include:

1. Key Cognitive Strategies

2. Key Content Knowledge

3. Key Learning Skills and Techniques

4. Key Transition Knowledge and Skills.

Key Cognitive Strategies are related to thinking skills required to see connections of information within an interdisciplinary context. These strategies reflect student ability to think critically in predictable and unpredictable situations. Traditional high school instruction may decontextualize information, teaching students what to think, whereas key cognitive strategies enable students to know how to think. Conley (2010) explained that students who are truly ready for college and career possess “patterns of thinking that lead to the development of a variety of specific ways to approach and attack challenging learning situations” (p. 33). The key cognitive strategies include problem formulation, research, interpretation, communication, and an emphasis on precision and accuracy (Conley, 2010). Conley (2014) suggested that students who can successfully utilize these cognitive strategies are well equipped for the intellectual challenges associated with college and career.


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Blended, SMART goals

Blended, Ch. 3, Part 2

The most successful blended programs have begun with a clearly identified problem to address, not a “technology” goal. The focus should not be on how technology will solve our problems, but on how to improve educational effectiveness. (As a high school math teacher, I believed my major barrier was the wide variance in how and when students grasped concepts...something that flipped lessons could have helped to address. Many students would need to review prerequisite concepts, and embedding links to these within the flipped lesson would facilitate this without taking class time.)

Many of us are familiar with PLC SMART goals, but Horn and Staker suggest a couple of different goals when outlining the problems we want to address and the goals we want to achieve:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Assignable

  • Realistic

  • Time-related

While “realistic” matches the PLC goal of “attainable,” the addition of “assignable” reminds us of the importance of identifying the key players for reaching goals.


Effective staff professional learning

“Does Teacher Collaboration Promote Teacher Growth?”

Educational Leadership, December 2015

How effective is teacher professional learning in terms of impacting student growth? It is obvious that PL without follow up doesn’t work. According to a TNTP (The New Teacher Project) report it is only when peer coaching comes into play that pedagogy changes. Yet when peer teachers do not challenge or question each other’s classroom practices, little growth occurred. When teachers had guiding questions for collaboration and protocols for classroom observations, peer coaching yielded greater productivity.

In a study of nine Michigan school districts, James Spillane identified three basic views of teaching learning and change: behaviorist, situated, and cognitive. The behaviorist perspective relies on motivating teachers through external rewards and informing practice with expert advice.

With situated views, a collegial school culture is nurtured with the hope that adopters will create a tipping point for the rest of the staff to come on board. The least used perspective is cognitive, where teacher are viewed as naturally inquisitive, motivated by a need for self-actualization. The high level of accountability prompts many leaders to fall back to the behaviorist approach, while the most effective PL should balance all three perspective.

Of paramount importance is the need for effective teacher evaluation systems that help propel teachers forward. Systems such as the one SPS now uses identifies sources of evidence for individual growth, which helps quantify what “good” teaching looks like.

For the complete report from TNTP, click here.