Adopting, adapting, or creating an instructional model for your school or district could be the key to boosting instructional consistency while also encouraging teacher creativity. That may sound like an easy sell, but the process is rife with opportunities for crossed signals and misaligned ambitions. Whether you’re a superintendent or a teacher who wants to see some things change, learning the basics of group dynamics will keep your project moving forward.
Hubbell, E. R., & Goodwin, B. (2019). Instructional models: Doing the right things right. Denver, CO: McREL International.
Education Week blogger Larry Ferlazzo turned to McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin and other leading education commentators for his Thanksgiving question of the week: What are effective strategies for having students teach their classmates and other peers? McREL has embraced reciprocal teaching and peer feedback (among teachers as well as students) for years and, as Goodwin shared in the blog, they are important components of several of our books, quick guides, and whitepapers, including Classroom Instruction That Works and The 12 Touchstones of Good Teaching. Goodwin acknowledges that students can feel awkward at first about giving and receiving peer feedback, and gives a few protocols teachers can use to help students ease into their new role as peer educators. “Reciprocal teaching is a good strategy to help students capture, organize, and reflect on important facts, concepts, ideas, and processes they will need to access later,” he said.
Michigan’s Richmond Community Schools may only have three buildings, but that isn’t stopping it from thinking big for student success. Because McREL partners with regional educational service agencies across the United States, small districts like Richmond have access to world-class professional learning that might otherwise be out of reach. In this instance, as reported by The Voice newspaper, one of the district’s top goals for the 2018–19 school year is to send a five-teacher contingent to Macomb ISD, their local service agency, for PD on McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works® (CITW), a research-based instructional framework that helps educators focus on the nine most effective strategies to create a great classroom environment for learning and help students develop deep understanding and application of new knowledge. Macomb ISD’s staff have been trained and authorized by McREL to deliver CITW professional development in their region. The district’s elementary school principal told the school board that CITW supports his top goals of improving student achievement in reading, writing, and math, the paper reported.
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.
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)
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:
- Become interested in learning,
- Committing to learning,
- Engaging in learning,
- Making sense of learning,
- Practicing new learning, and
- 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.