All posts by cschmidt

REL Pacific takes aim at math achievement in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)

In our capacity as administrator of the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Pacific, McREL is working with school leaders and researchers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to tear down a roadblock for far too many college students: math.

The Marianas Variety newspaper covered an address at the CNMI Education Summit by McREL’s Phillip Herman, who serves as the lab’s executive director, in which he described his collaboration with the nation’s public schools, its department of labor, the Mount Carmel School in Saipan, and Northern Marianas College (NMC). Their goal: increase the college graduation rate by designing a new high school math course that prepares seniors for college-level math.

The high-school level course wouldn’t offer college credits itself, the paper pointed out, but rather . “help students catch up faster, advance them as fast as they can, and if they pass the course, they will be given the chance to take college-level math at NMC,” Herman was quoted as saying.

Read the article.

How can teachers tap into the power of curiosity right now?

Intrigued by what we’ve been saying about curiosity and want to build it into your teaching practice right away? Here are some classroom-ready ideas, drawn from our Unleashing Curiosity quick reference guides.

Idea 1: Be choosy about choice. Offering your students choices is an excellent technique for building their curiosity, interest, and engagement, but offering too many choices can sap students’ motivation as they expend mental energy agonizing over options, worried they’ll make the wrong choice. Usually, 3–5 choices suffice, and they’re more effective if you tailor the options to an individual student’s needs and interests. (Source: Unleashing Curiosity with Challenging Learning Tasks)

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Discovery Education’s Spotlight on Strategies Content Now Aligned to McREL International’s Six-Phase Model for Learning

May 29, 2018

*The following is a press release from Discovery Education, regarding a partnership project with McREL.

Silver Spring, Md. (May 29, 2018)Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, today announced it has aligned its popular Spotlight on Strategies content to McREL International’s six-phase model for learning.  The alignment of this popular series of digital professional learning resources to McREL’s model helps educators quickly chose the appropriate classroom tactics for aiding the acquisition and recall of information. McREL International is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.

Available in all Discovery Education Techbooks and Streaming services, the Spotlight on Strategies or SOS series offers creative, research-based instructional videos and supporting materials developed for teachers, by teachers. An example of an SOS can be found in a short video about the A-E-I-O-U strategy, through which students interpret information from images or videos they have viewed, write down their thoughts next to five descriptive categories, then pair-share their favorite parts.  This strategy provides scaffolding that helps students look for and remember key ideas about the information presented in the video segment and provides a conversation structure for debriefing with classmates and reporting out.

Another SOS example is the Table Top Texting strategy, which engages students in content by encouraging them to reflect and respond to videos or images they are presented by creating a written dialogue with their neighbor in the form of a “text thread.”  In this way, students connect to digital content in a way they communicate on a daily basis as they are encouraged to think and respond on a higher level.

McREL’s six-phase model was recently outlined in a McREL whitepaper entitled Student Learning that Works, and consists of:

  1. Become interested in learning,
  2. Committing to learning,
  3. Engaging in learning,
  4. Making sense of learning,
  5. Practicing new learning, and
  6. Applying learning and finding meaning.

Thanks to Discovery Education’s alignment of the over 130 SOS videos and their accompanying support materials to these six phases, educators can now quickly and easily find SOS strategies that support students’ needs no matter where they are on McREL’s model for learning.

“The SOS videos are one of the most useful professional learning resources available to teachers today,” said Susan Bowdoin, a Library Media Specialist in New Mexico’s Albuquerque Public Schools.  “The alignment of the SOS resources to McREL’s six-phase learning model is an incredibly valuable timesaver, as it allows me quickly cross-reference what phase of learning students are in and then choose a strategy that will help them progress to the next level.”

The SOS initiative grew out of the Discovery Education Community. A global community of education professionals, the Discovery Education Community connects members in school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing and inspiration.

“Just as McREL is dedicated to helping educators flourish by turning research into solutions, Discovery Education seeks to empower educators worldwide with the content and professional learning they need to accelerate student achievement,” said Jannita Demian, Senior Director, Learning Communities and Instructional Content. “By aligning McREL’s research on learning to Discovery Education’s content, we’ve created an innovative tool educators can use to support the success of all their students.”

For more information about Discovery Education’s services and the Spotlight on Strategies videos, visit www.discoveryeducation.com, and stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Facebook, follow us on Twitter at @DiscoveryEd, or find us on Instagram and Pinterest.

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About Discovery Education
As the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12 classrooms worldwide, Discovery Education is transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional learning, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and over 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are available in approximately half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries around the globe. Inspired by the global media company Discovery Inc., Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Explore the future of education at DiscoveryEducation.com.

Supporting student creativity, perseverance, and risk-taking (the good kind)—(Infographic)

When I was five, I saw my sisters riding their bikes and thought it looked fun, so I decided I would learn, too. I got on a bike, toppled over, and skinned my knee. My grandpa, who was watching nearby, helped me up, gave me a little hug with some advice on how to keep my balance, and told me I needed to try again. I got back on, determined to conquer the bike, and started pedaling. I could hear my grandpa behind me, encouraging me and telling me to keep pedaling.

Eventually, with my grandpa’s encouragement, I learned to ride a bike. Without that support, I may have given up, feeling defeated and a bit wounded. Students can feel the same way in the classroom when they don’t feel supported, encouraged, and safe.

Being supportive is one of three key characteristics of effective teachers, along with being intentional and being demanding, that are discussed in McREL’s The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching. Being supportive means that a teacher interacts with students and encourages growth in a trusting, nurturing environment.

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McREL’s research on school and district leaders outlines their influence on student achievement

What do principals do, and how does their role differ from that of central office administrators? How have their roles and responsibilities changed over the years? In this op-ed in TriCorner News, Pam Vogel, superintendent of Connecticut’s Regional School District No. 1, answers these questions and tells the community that competent principals and central-office leaders influence student achievement. Citing McREL research, Vogel states that “Principals see that student learning and progress occurs in their building; superintendents are to oversee that each school is making progress. This is accountability. This is what students and parents should expect of us and what we owe them.”

Read the article.

McREL plays key role in Tennessee “principal pipeline” initiative

McREL International was named in August 2017 by the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) as one of a group of agencies and school districts that will receive $1 million in grants to support the state’s Principal Pipeline Partnership. Tennessee needs 260–270 principals every year and has the nation’s most advanced school leadership development program, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. Among in-school factors, only teacher quality plays a greater role than leadership in influencing student achievement, she said. The grant program funds principal pipelines in nine regions; McREL is collaborating with Wilson County Public Schools and the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Tennessee to provide aspiring leaders with training, transition support between program completion and job placement, and an induction program for newly placed leaders.

Read the TNDOE press release.

Balanced Leadership makes news in Tennessee

A dozen educators received kudos from the Blount County, Tennessee, school board for completing the district’s Aspiring Administrator Academy, which is based on McREL’s Balanced Leadership Framework. The Daily Times of Maryville reported that this is the fifth group to complete the training, which is “designed to build potential leaders” through monthly seminars, during which the educators learn the responsibilities of effective leaders in “creating a positive school culture, driving change and focusing on meaningful structures and routines.”

Read the article here.

Oregon superintendent unveils improvement plan that leans heavily on McREL research

Roseburg (Oregon) Public Schools Superintendent Gary Washburn has crafted an improvement plan derived from McREL research on effective teaching and school leadership, the News-Review of Douglas County reported. Washburn told the paper that improving the quality of teaching is the best way to improve student achievement, and he was impressed with McREL’s work with Colorado schools. “My experience with the McREL team personally and professionally leads me to believe that its model will work well for us and offers a framework that we can use to develop a plan specific to Roseburg Public Schools,” he said.

Read the article here.

White Paper | Finding Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity: A Strategic Planning Process Streamlines District Work and Improves the System for All (2017)

Managing a school district has become an increasingly complex endeavor. But one school district in Pinedale, Wyoming, has found that taking a systems approach to strategic planning not only simplifies district work but also increases the success of principals, teachers, and students.

In this white paper, Jay Harnack, the superintendent of Sublette County School District #1, and Matt Seebaum, senior director at McREL, show how a strategic planning process reduces redundancy and workload by integrating district goals, strategic planning, and school improvement into one streamlined process. By establishing conditions for success rather than reacting to problems, this process creates meaningful, sustainable change that results in the ultimate outcome: improved student achievement districtwide.

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Underwater robots bring STEM to life for high school students in Guam

Last year, teachers across Guam participated in a McREL STEM education training on underwater robotics—and now their students are taking the plunge. Eleventh graders in Dymphnia San Nicolas-Diaz’s math class at Tiyan High School in Barrigada have been working together to design and build their own remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), which they recently got to test out in an inflatable pool. Said student Franklin Babauta, “We all designed something from scratch and trying to find the right design was hard, but luckily we all came together as a team. We learned a lot of real-life stuff in that class, and this is probably one of my favorite things that we’ve done.”

Read the article here.