All posts by McREL.org

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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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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