All posts by McREL.org

Personalizing Professional Development: How Empowered Teachers Can Take Charge of Professional Learning and Growth (2019)

McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin teams up with ASCD authors Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral to tackle a question of urgent interest to teachers at all career stages: Can professional learning be better? It can, they argue, if the profession recognizes that large PD sessions—while an appropriate starting point to share foundational practices—should be followed up with a highly personalized plan of action. Reflection holds the key to identifying and addressing problems of practice as teachers advance in their skills. Also important to bear in mind: Teachers are most effective when they develop an understanding of why certain techniques work, not just what they are.

Goodwin, B., Hall, P., & Simeral, A. (2019). Personalizing professional development: How empowered teachers can take
charge of professional learning and growth. Denver, CO: McREL International.

 

Why we love to hear a common instructional language

Frequently after working with a school district, we hear teachers and leaders say that one of the most valuable things they learned from their time with McREL was “a common language” to use with one another and with students. You might be wondering: What exactly does this mean? And why would educators ever have felt they were deficient in their professional vocabulary?

Every profession has its terms of art (“jargon” is a less-nice way to put it) and the widespread use of such terms across entire industries can help to assure efficiency, even save lives. An aileron is an aileron regardless of what plane you’re piloting; a syringe is a syringe at any hospital. Sometimes variations in professional terminology can lead to momentary confusion, but it’s usually sorted out quickly.

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The Science of Learning: What’s memory got to do with it?

Imagine a student who is well adjusted socially but . . .

• Is reserved in group activities; rarely contributes to classroom discussions or activities.
• Has difficulty completing tasks.
• Appears to not follow instructions.
• Is reported as not paying attention, having a short attention span, or “zoning out.”
• Makes poor academic progress.

What could be causing these problems?

One might not initially consider memory, particularly working memory, as the mechanism at work in these types of young learners’ struggles. However, research has shown that working memory problems, even in the absence of diagnosed developmental disabilities, can result in learning challenges for students (Dehn, 2008; Gathercole, Lamont, & Alloway, 2006; Gathercole & Alloway, 2007; Holmes, Gathercole, and Dunning, 2010; Willingham, 2009).

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Raz-Plus Users Show Higher Achievement and Interest in Reading According to Ed-Tech Evaluation Efficacy Study by McREL

Our partners Learning A–Z have released the following news about an ed-tech evaluation efficacy study McREL performed on their reading program Raz-Plus®. With our background in research on student achievement, McREL is now a leading evaluation provider to the ed-tech industry.


Students Whose Teachers Use Raz-Plus Blended Learning Platform Show Higher Achievement and Interest in Reading According to Efficacy Study by McREL International

DALLAS. Jan. 29, 2019—As elementary schools look for effective ways to develop students’ reading skills, findings from a new efficacy study by McREL International suggest that Raz-Plus is an effective supplemental resource to improve elementary students’ reading achievement and interest within high poverty and high racial/ethnic minority schools.

The McREL study, which was conducted in the spring of 2018, involved 662 students from 39 classrooms in three rural elementary schools in the southeast United States. All three schools serve predominantly low-income, minority student populations. Teachers used Raz-Plus, a blended learning platform for K-5 reading from Learning A-Z , as a supplemental resource three to five times per week for a total of 60 to 90 minutes per week, on average.

Pre- and post-assessments show statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups in this randomized controlled trial. Students whose teachers used Raz-Plus had higher reading achievement scores than students in the control group, as measured by the STAR assessment. In addition, students whose teachers used Raz-Plus showed a higher level of interest in both academic and recreational reading than students in the control group, as measured by the Elementary Reading Attitude Survey (ERAS).

“Building a strong connection between reading instruction and practice is key to improving student outcomes. It’s also important to provide an engaging environment that makes reading practice rewarding and keeps students motivated to read,” said Patrick Marcotte, president of Learning A-Z. “The McREL study findings support what teachers tell us they see in their classrooms each day—that Raz-Plus is making a positive difference in reading outcomes and helping students develop a love of reading.”

Raz-Plus provides effective teacher-led instruction, developmentally appropriate reading practice, formative assessment, and data-driven reporting to improve the reading skills of every student, at every level. It combines teacher-led whole-class and small-group instruction with technology-enabled resources for personalized reading practice. All resources are accessible online and available in printable, projectable, and digital formats to strengthen the connection between what is being taught and what students independently practice.

For a free trial or to learn more about Raz-Plus, visit https://www.raz-plus.com.

About McREL International

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. For information, visit www.mcrel.org.

About Learning A–Z

Learning A-Z is a literacy-focused PreK-6 educational provider of technology-enabled learning solutions. Our products blend traditional teacher-led instruction with robust online resources to make teaching more effective and efficient, practice more accessible and personalized, assessment more strategic and automated, and learning more informed and proactive. Our suite of products includes: Raz-Plus, Reading A-Z, Raz-Kids, Headsprout, Science A-Z, Writing A-Z, and Vocabulary A-Z. Learning A-Z products are used by more than 7 million students in more than 170 countries. Learning A-Z is a business unit of Cambium Learning® Group, Inc.

For more information, please visit www.learninga-z.com or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

About Cambium Learning Group, Inc.

Cambium Learning Group is an award-winning educational technology solutions leader dedicated to helping all students reach their potential through individualized and differentiated instruction. Using a research-based, personalized approach, Cambium Learning Group delivers SaaS resources and instructional products that engage students and support teachers in fun, positive, safe and scalable environments. These solutions are provided through Learning A-Z (online differentiated instruction for elementary school reading, writing and science), ExploreLearning (online interactive math and science simulations and a math fact fluency solution), Voyager Sopris Learning (blended solutions that accelerate struggling learners to achieve in literacy and math and professional development for teachers), and VKidz Learning (online comprehensive homeschool education and programs for literacy and science). We believe that every student has unlimited potential, that teachers matter, and that data, instruction, and practice are the keys to success in the classroom and beyond.

Come learn with us at www.cambiumlearning.com.

 

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READ THE ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE

Technology journal highlights McREL’s role in student safety grant

The education technology publication THE Journal reported on a grant project of McREL International and the Global Grid for Learning to disburse $25 million worth of safety solutions to as many as 500 schools, and then study the effectiveness of the technologies deployed. The 16 participating vendors focus on a wide variety of safety-related issues, from emotional well-being to managing sports injuries to keeping in touch with parents. McREL’s role will be to build “a better evidence base that helps educators and parents make informed decisions about which approaches will work best for their students and schools,” CEO Bryan Goodwin said.

Read the article.

GG4L and McREL Launch Safer Schools in America $25M Impact Grant

SAN FRANCISCONov. 27, 2018 — Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) and McREL International are pleased to announce the open application period for the Safer Schools in America Impact Grant with a total in-kind value of over $25 million over three years.

Starting today, GG4L Member U.S. districts may nominate up to three schools each to qualify for grants that fund several pre-integrated innovative solutions from more than 25 global EdTech providers to be deployed and measured at no cost to the schools for a minimum of three years each. Any U.S. school or school district could be a GG4L member at no cost and apply for the Grant Application. 100 U.S. schools will be selected for the initial phase of the Grant by January 30, 2019, with 400 additional schools to be selected in later phases in 2019.

Aligned to the U.S. national ESSA-Title IV Part A, Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) framework for school safety, the Safer Schools in America Impact Grant will capture data-driven validation research around the expansive range of activities needed to foster safer school environments, including emotional, physical and digital safety, emergency preparedness, school facilities, culture, and community engagement.

“Parents, students, teachers and administrators expect schools to be safe, secure, and supportive for teaching and learning, but little research has been done to date to measure the effectiveness of the solutions that we purchase to address safety and well-being,” explains Dr. Sandra Elliott, Chief Academic Officer at GG4L. Bryan Goodwin, CEO of McREL comments, “We hope that by joining this partnership, McREL can contribute to building a better evidence base that helps educators and parents make informed decisions about which approaches will work best for their students and schools.”

This Impact Grant is made possible through generous sponsorships from corporations and philanthropy. For more information on the list of sponsors and participating GG4L Members please visit the GG4L website at https://gg4l.com/impact/safer-schools/

About Global Grid for Learning (GG4L)

Embracing the belief that our nation’s education system impacts our future, GG4L is building innovative public and private partnerships mindfully structured to harness the power of data to solve big school challenges such as school safety, literacy, college and career readiness and student wellness. With privacy and security top of mind, GG4L’s 3-way partnership between schools, industry and philanthropy, actively champions continuous cycles of improvement informed by data. By facilitating affordable access to proven solutions and efficacy data, GG4L fuels rapid innovation in education. As a membership-based Public Benefit Corporation, GG4L is committed to voluntarily meeting higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability and transparency.

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.

For more information please visit https://gg4l.com or contact GG4L at 205599@email4pr.com.

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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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