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Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works wins Learning Magazine 2019 Teachers’ Choice Award for Professional Development

November 15, 2018

Denver, Colorado – Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works, co-published by McREL International and Thoughtful Education Press, has earned a Learning® Magazine 2019 Teachers’ Choice AwardSM for Professional Development.

Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works gives teachers 51 ready-to-use instructional techniques to help their students develop deeper understanding and broader application of what they are learning.

Published in January 2018, the book combines McREL’s well-known research and analysis on the most effective instructional strategies with Thoughtful Education Press’s award-winning Tools for Today’s Educators resources. Co-written by former teacher and McREL instructional trainer Cheryl Abla along with Dr. Harvey Silver and his colleagues from Thoughtful Education Press, Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works provides teachers with a brief synopsis of key research and the benefits of each tool, along with simple step-by-step instructions, classroom examples, reproducible handouts, and tips from real teachers who have used the tool with their students.

The Teachers’ Choice Award winners are selected after review by a panel of practicing educators who test the products in their classrooms.

“As a 25-year veteran teacher, I loved that this [book] provides practical, not theoretical, techniques that can be used right away in the classroom,” said one of the reviewers. “The book makes it really easy to find tools to fit your grade level, content area and student needs.”

Silver, a leading education expert who has been helping schools improve instruction for more than 40 years, says two things distinguish this book from other texts about instruction. “First is the research base. McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works research is the gold standard for a reason. It reshaped the entire field, and we are proud that this research anchors our book. The second difference maker is the book’s practicality. The tools are so classroom-friendly that teachers can use them tomorrow. These tools really are the simplest and most effective way to make research-based instruction an everyday reality in any classroom.”

Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works is available at https://store.mcrel.org and https://toolsforclassroominstructionthatworks.com .

Praise from education professionals for Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works

“Harvey Silver and colleagues have made a great framework even better.” – Robert J. Marzano, co-founder and Chief Academic Officer, Marzano Research

“This book is packed with powerful, easy-to-use tools. Anyone who wants to improve teaching—teacher, coach, administrator, anyone—will find it incredibly useful.” – Jim Knight, author of The Impact Cycle and Better Conversations

“This book is an ideal resource for meeting the growing call for ‘best first instruction.’ It is strongly aligned to the Classroom Instruction That Works research base, and it provides high-impact tools that help educators turn the research into powerful classroom practice.” – Bj Stone, co-author, Classroom Instruction That Works (Second Edition)

“As a principal of an elementary school I am constantly looking for resources for my teachers. So often the resources I find are filled with ‘what’ teachers should be doing with little support on the ‘how.’ This book was designed for busy teachers that need a ‘how’ they can use the next day. It provides great tools backed by solid research that will benefit new and veteran educators alike.” – Kellie Roe, Principal, Clear Sky Elementary, Colorado

“This book of practical tools meets teachers at the crossroads of easy, effective, and exhilarating. All educators will benefit from incorporating these tried-and-true tools into their repertoires.” – Nicholas DiSanto, Instructional Lead, Affinity Field Support Center, New York

About McREL International

McREL is a non-profit education research and development organization that turns knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance for educators across the U.S. and around the world. Schools and school systems turn to McREL for high-quality research and evaluation, professional development and coaching, and strategic planning and implementation support for improvement and innovation projects.

About Thoughtful Education Press

Thoughtful Education Press is the publishing division of Silver Strong & Associates, an educational consulting and publishing company that provides custom professional development and practical resources to schools and districts throughout the country. Through its own channels and strategic partnerships with schools, districts, and leading national publishers, Thoughtful Education Press produces a range of resources for educators on a variety of topics—including award-winning books, professional learning guides, customized workshop designs, and classroom posters.

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McREL trainer named Nebraska 2019 Teacher of the Year

Ninth-grade English teacher, instructional coach, and McREL-certified Classroom Instruction That Works® (CITW) trainer Sydney Jensen has been named Nebraska 2019 Teacher of the Year, KOLN-TV reported.

Jensen teaches at Lincoln High School (LHS), which has a strong partnership with McREL. LHS principal Mark Larson chose McREL’s CITW framework to help his school team improve instructional consistency, communication, and collaboration. Jensen became an integral part of that initiative by joining McREL’s “training of trainers” program, which is how CITW can be shared throughout a school or district at a fraction of the cost of continually bringing in consultants.

Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt surprised Jensen with her award at Lincoln High on Oct. 11, KOLN reported. She’ll go on to be considered for National Teacher of the Year.

Read the article.

The complexity of memory

As deeply committed as we are to curiosity here at McREL, we recognize that in the absence of knowledge, curiosity wouldn’t do anybody much good. That’s why we’ve also been doing some digging into the nature of memory, hoping to guide teachers toward practices that maximize the acquisition and retention of knowledge.

As explored more deeply in our recent white paper, Student Learning That Works: How Brain Science Informs a Student Learning Model, the human brain works quite hard to help us filter out and forget extraneous information. This probably made good sense in the hunt-or-be-hunted days, but in the information age, forgetting is not a recipe for success.

Fortunately, once teachers know the stages of memory—and what happens between them—they can use some clever workarounds to help students strengthen recall. Essentially, we need to trick our brains into forgetting to forget.

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SEL: If schools are going to do the ‘other stuff,’ they’d better make it count

SEL is one of those acronyms familiar mainly to educators. But once the idea behind social emotional learning is explained, only the staunchest readin’, ’ritin’, ’rithmetic types could possibly be against it. Simply put, should schools help students to develop the personal characteristics and interpersonal skills that are associated with success in school and life?

Even if the answer is a resounding “yes,” that still leaves the question: Can they?

McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin explores the research attempting to answer these questions in the October edition of ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine. Frustratingly, he finds, SEL programs—and researchers’ attempts to evaluate them—have been too inconsistent to allow for sweeping do’s and don’ts on SEL objectives and design.

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What happens in North Melbourne better not stay in North Melbourne

In 2011, the school region (what Americans call a district) of North Melbourne, Australia, launched an improvement initiative that stood out for being based on positivity, curiosity, and “inside-out” leadership rather than yet another series of top-down mandates. The North Melbourne experience soon became a source of inspiration for McREL, which has been advocating for more schools and districts to take a similarly upbeat approach to improvement and innovation.

I was the assistant principal of an elementary school in North Melbourne at the time, and, looking back, I feel like I participated in something historic. With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you our story about how it all began.

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What is “inside-out” thinking?

Good test scores are good. You know what’s great? A school where leaders and teachers pull together for professional collaboration and learning that leads to continuous improvement and innovation—not because of mandates and regulations imposed by the district office or the state department of education, but because they genuinely desire excellence and want to grow as professionals.

This is what we’ve been calling “inside-out” thinking. It centers on a degree of autonomy and curiosity that we think all schools—charter or district, Montessori or Core Knowledge, “distinguished” or “turnaround”—should strive for.

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Curiosity can’t go it alone

As we visit schools and speak with educators all over the world, my colleagues and I are always on the lookout for attitudes toward curiosity. Is it encouraged or quashed? Is it treated as a necessity, an impractical luxury, or—conversely, as a nuisance or a distraction?

While doing research for McREL’s newest book, Out of Curiosity: Restoring the Power of Hungry Minds for Better Schools, Workplaces, and Lives, I was struck by the fact that we’re all born with curiosity, but some of us, in effect, lose access to it. Over time, this loss often pervades many aspects of our lives, not just schooling; without guidance, such as from a talented teacher or inspiring leader, natural curiosity can wither to the point of near uselessness.

“Childhood curiosity is a collaboration between child and adult,” writes Ian Leslie in Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It (2015). It’s the availability and effectiveness of that collaboration, perhaps more than any other resource gap, that may separate the haves and have-nots of the future.

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New McREL Book Highlights Power of Curiosity in School, Work, and Life

September 19, 2018

Denver, Colorado — McREL International, a global leader in education research and professional development, today announced the publication of Out of Curiosity: Restoring the Power of Hungry Minds for Better Schools, Workplaces, and Lives, by Bryan Goodwin, the company’s president and CEO.

Drawing from research and reporting in education, management, and the social sciences, Goodwin constructs a compelling case that curiosity is the key to success in school, at work, in relationships, and our civic lives. Readers of Out of Curiosity will learn how to:

  • Inspire innovative teaching and learning.
  • Spark more meaningful conversations and relationships.
  • Avert calamitous boardroom decisions.
  • Generate high levels of personal happiness.
  • Regain civility in our civic and political worlds.

“We’re all born with curiosity; it’s an innate human characteristic. But, starting in childhood and accelerating through adulthood, far too many of us let our curiosity lapse,” said Goodwin. “The good news is, there are things we can do to reawaken our curiosity, to stir up our interest in learning something new about ourselves and the world around us.”

Out of Curiosity is inspired by and builds upon McREL’s Curiosity Works™ resources that support curiosity among teachers, leaders, and learners at every level of learning.

Print and e-book versions of Out of Curiosity are available from McREL (store.mcrel.org) for $18.95.

Praise from advance readers

“Goodwin’s masterful melding of research, real-life experiences, and thought-provoking questions left me committed to putting curiosity at the forefront of how I learn, lead, and live.” – Fred Ende, assistant director of curriculum for PNW BOCES and author of Professional Development That Sticks.

“With heavy doses of wit, research, and real-talk, Out of Curiosity explores a rather obvious—but often untrodden—path to improvement: in work, in school, in relationships, and even politics. This is a book I couldn’t put down, and I’ll read it again and again!” – Pete Hall, president, Strive Success Solutions

“A thoughtful analysis of why curiosity is a missing element in so many lessons, with specific suggestions on how the best teachers tap students’ innate desire to explore the unknown” – Kim Marshall, The Marshall Memo

“Bryan reminds us that wonder and curiosity are natural forces in all of us that need to be rekindled in our schools if we are to make learning engaging and meaningful.” – Harvey Silver, education coach and consultant, co-founder of Silver Strong & Associates, and co-author of The Core Six, The Strategic Teacher, and Tools for a Successful School Year

About McREL

McREL 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.

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For more information, please contact:

Roger Fiedler, marketing director, 303-632-5579, rfiedler@mcrel.org

Further reading: Let curiosity be your guide

If you’ve been getting more curious about curiosity’s role in teaching and learning, you might be ready to dive into more books, articles, and resources. A great place to start is McREL’s upcoming new book, Out of Curiosity: Restoring the Power of Hungry Minds for Better Schools, Workplaces, and Lives, by our CEO, Bryan Goodwin (available next week in our bookstore!). Bryan reviews the academic research and describes how generating more individual and societal curiosity could improve our schools, workplaces, relationships, civic discourse, and, really, our entire lives.

The rest of the books on this list approach curiosity from slightly different perspectives but any would serve as a great introduction.

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McREL and CTAC call for strategies that focus on, and honor, educators’ career-long professional development

August 29, 2018

The chief executives of McREL International and the Community Training and Assistance Center (CTAC) have collaboratively published a white paper, “Improving Teacher Practice: Debunking the Myth of Conventional Wisdom,” that urges schools and districts to think systemically about development of teacher talent in order to make bigger difference in student outcomes.

The paper’s authors, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin and CTAC Founder and Executive Director Bill Slotnik, call out a widespread but, according to recent research, inaccurate belief that new teachers’ expertise and talent is mostly innate, and generally peaks and plateaus within their first few years of teaching. The authors present an alternative, evidence-based viewpoint that most teachers do continue to get better throughout the course of their careers.

“Many districts and schools indicate their need to reset their approach to developing the talent of teachers,” said Slotnik. “By combining reimagined hiring protocols, modeling, peer coaching, and self-directed learning, teachers as well as schools will improve performance trajectories and increase impact.”

To support teachers’ continued growth, the authors recommend fundamental changes in the way schools and districts recruit, hire, train, evaluate, and support teachers over their entire careers. They show how to create a growth-oriented human capital management system that connects and aligns a school district’s personnel, professional development, and instructional practices.

“Smart companies in every industry know that employee talent needs to be developed over entire careers, even if they’re hiring the best and the brightest to begin with,” said Goodwin. “In education, professional learning should be approached as an embedded, lifelong, mutually beneficial partnership between school districts and teachers.”

The paper is freely available on each organization’s website (www.mcrel.org and www.ctacusa.com).

In addition to publishing this paper, McREL and CTAC are launching a talent development consortium to assist districts that seek to improve and innovate their human capital management policies, procedures, and practices.

About McREL International

Headquartered in Denver, McREL is a non-profit education research-and-development organization that conducts research and evaluation and analyzes best practices in teaching and school leadership, and transforms that knowledge into strategic guidance, training, and resources for educators.

About CTAC

Headquartered in Boston, CTAC is a non-profit organization that provides technical assistance, research and evaluation, and public policy consulting at local, state, and national levels to achieve significant, long-term improvements in student achievement, teacher effectiveness, and organizational capacity.

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For more information: 
Natalie Nier, CTAC communications manager, 617.423.1444, nnier@ctacuse.com
Roger Fiedler, McREL marketing director, 303.632.5579, rfiedler@mcrel.org