All posts by McREL.org

Four tips for using nonlinguistic representations

Today’s learners are continually fed linguistically presented information, such as lectures, videos, directions, math chants, and reading assignments. Most opportunities for students to interact with peers happen primarily with words.

It’s all too easy, while employing various aspects of instructional design and delivery, to overlook ways that students might also engage in learning through nonlinguistics.

When used intentionally and consistently, nonlinguistic representations are powerful instructional tools that can have a positive effect on student achievement. They provide varied ways for students to process new information without solely relying on language.

McREL’s analysis of research for the second edition of Classroom Instruction that Works (CITW) provides these research-based classroom recommendations for use of nonlinguistic representations:

Use graphic organizers.
Use physical models or manipulatives.
Generate mental pictures.
Use pictures, illustrations, and pictographs.
Engage in kinesthetic activities.

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Today’s “high tech” students need “high touch” learning environments

We’ve all seen it: A group of teenagers sitting together, perhaps at a restaurant or the mall, but all of them glued to their phones, barely interacting with the friends right next to them. As common as this sight has become, it still gives us pause. What, you may wonder, is this doing to our kids?

In September’s Educational Leadership, McREL’s Bryan Goodwin takes a look at the effects of our “plugged in” culture on students and their teachers. One clear effect, he finds, is how students relate to others: One analysis of more than 70 student surveys, for example, found that empathy among college students is at its lowest level since 1979—a whopping 40 percent lower.

Not surprisingly, researchers and educators alike have noted a loss in the ability of students to have deep, empathic conversations. In an article for The Atlantic, one such teacher in Kentucky described how, in a classroom interview activity, most of his high school students were unable to move beyond the scripted questions and engage in more spontaneous, authentic dialogue. His solution? He asked his students to record their conversations on their smartphones, watch them later, and self-assess their conversation skills.

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Four fallacies that keep us from finishing what we start

One of the major pitfalls of systemic education improvement is this: Too many schools and districts begin a promising new initiative only to toss it aside before it has a chance to become part of the organizational culture and make a difference. Within this graveyard of discarded initiatives are thousands upon thousands of dollars spent on professional development, curriculum programs, innovative processes, and unfulfilled hopes for better student achievement.

In our never-ending quest to locate the next “shiny object” cure for our challenges, we sometimes overlook an important facet of school and student improvement that is fully within our control: the power to finish what we started.

Why do we so often fail to bring our many important initiatives to fruition? Part of the answer lies in addressing the fallacies that often form our belief system.

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New Balanced Leadership study shows significant growth for principals in key areas

A study published in the June issue of Educational Administration Quarterly looks at the causal impact of McREL’s Balanced Leadership® (BL) professional development program on principals’ learning, beliefs, and behaviors. Researcher Roger Goddard and his colleagues compared a treatment group of 100 principals in rural Michigan who participated in two years of BL training with a group who did not receive training. Results showed that participating principals reported substantively significant growth on the majority of outcomes targeted by BL, with the largest impacts on sense of efficacy for instructional improvement, reported ability to bring about change, and strength of norms for teachers’ instructional practice. Interestingly, principals were more likely to report growth on broad, school-level outcomes than in areas that involve them working directly with teachers.

Subscribers to Educational Administration Quarterly can read the study here.

Principal magazine article highlights integrated approach to leadership

In the May/June issue of NAESP’s Principal magazine, McREL Senior Director Matt Seebaum and Superintendent Jay Harnack from Sublette County District #1 in Wyoming write about the importance of an integrated, shared approach to leadership, including the Balanced Leadership Framework and leadership training for all school leaders and teachers. “As we have proved in Sublette County,” the authors write. “If you invest in a research-based framework that aligns with classroom practices, take the time to train all of your staff, and work with them to ensure fidelity of implementation, you will see improvement—not just in one or two schools, but across the board.”

Read the article here.

McREL forms strategic partnership with Discovery Education supporting the creation of dynamic digital learning environments

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today, McREL International announced a new strategic partnership with Discovery Education supporting teacher leaders nationwide as they create dynamic digital learning environments. Through this new collaboration, McREL will support Discovery Education’s global efforts to grow the capacity of teacher leaders by developing innovation configuration (IC) maps for Discovery Education’s Digital Leader Corps.

Discovery Education’s Digital Leader Corps is a comprehensive professional development model that builds and nurtures a network of teacher leaders to design and implement successful and innovative teaching strategies that can be shared with their peers. Featuring a unique combination of professional learning, pedagogy and tools, the Digital Leader Corps helps participating educators learn to integrate educational technologies and digital media into classroom instruction and create dynamic learning environments that meet the needs of all students. Digital Leader Corps provides participants with continuous customized, job-embedded consultation throughout the process with on-going modeling, coaching and feedback from Discovery Education experts in the pre-planning, stakeholder communications, and implementation phases.

IC maps identify the major components of an innovation, capturing current practice and describing the steps for achieving implementation goals—placing these on a continuum, with weak or low-level implementation at one end and ideal or high-fidelity implementation at the other. The construction and use of an IC map communicates a common set of behaviors and expectations related to the implementation of a new initiative, such as the integration of technology with instruction, and provides a unique tool for teacher reflection, feedback, and assistance throughout the implementation process.

With McREL’s support, Discovery Education’s Digital Leader Corps participants are increasing their capacity to develop and use IC maps, which will help drive even deeper implementation of Digital Leader Corps and other improvement initiatives guiding the professional learning of digital leaders.

“By using IC maps within the Digital Leader Corps environment, participating teacher leaders will gain additional clarity on the key components of their roles and have a pathway of clearly described, increasingly sophisticated behaviors that can be supported and strengthened for greater impact and implementation success,” said Dr. Dale Lewis, a senior director at McREL who is leading the project with Discovery Education.

“Discovery Education is pleased to work with McREL to integrate innovation configuration maps into the powerful Digital Leader Corps model,” explained Dr. Karen Beerer, Discovery Education’s vice president of learning and development. “The IC maps are another powerful tool supporting

the growth of the strong pedagogical practice needed to create the dynamic digital learning environments today’s students need for college and career readiness.”

For more information on McREL’s consulting, research, analysis, and evaluation services, visit www.mcrel.org.

For more information on the Digital Leader Corps, or other services and initiatives from Discovery Education, visit www.discoveryeducation.com.

About McREL International
McREL International is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that turns 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.

About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 3 million educators and over 30 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. 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. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.

Important message to our readers and subscribers

This week, we will be transitioning the McREL Blog to a new platform. If you have bookmarked our site you might encounter page errors, which you can fix by refreshing the web page and updating your bookmarks. If you subscribe to our RSS feed, or you’ve commented on any recent posts, you might receive an automatic email update alerting you to updates to our blog. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this might cause, and invite you to re-subscribe to our RSS feed after the transition. We’re confident that this transition will provide a more robust social experience for our readers, and we thank you for your patience as we make this move.

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McREL helps teachers in Guam experience marine robotics

The Guam Daily Post recently highlighted a STEM professional development program organized by McREL that gave teachers the opportunity to learn firsthand about marine robotics. During the three-day training, teacher teams constructed underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and used them in a competition to retrieve objects from the water, similar to a competition that their high school students participate in. The training was provided by Anne Tweed, a STEM consultant at McREL, and Jim McDonnel, a retired engineer who coaches school teams to compete in regional and international marine advanced technology education (MATE) ROV competitions.

Watch a video of the activity.

Ribbon of Hope grant program launches online application system June 1

June 1, 2016

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation invites community-based nonprofit organizations in North Carolina to use its new online grant application system to apply for Ribbon of Hope grants to support science, health, and education projects.

Starting June 1, the new online system can be found at http://www.ncgskfoundation.org/ribbon-grants.html. Applications for the next Ribbon of Hope grant funding cycle, which are due by October 1, 2016, can be submitted using the new online system or the existing paper application.

The Ribbon of Hope grant program offers $25,000 one-time awards to community-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations in North Carolina to expand or enhance existing programs or help start new initiatives. In addition to financial assistance, recipients benefit from customized consulting services and technical assistance provided by the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

The goal of the Ribbon of Hope program is to have a positive impact on the lives of North Carolina’s citizens in each of the state’s 100 counties. Proposed projects should be tightly aligned with the program’s mission to advance science, health, and education in local communities across the state. They should address critical community needs that have been identified through a comprehensive needs assessment, provide clear and concise descriptions of project activities, and demonstrate sustainability after grant funds are expended.

McREL International, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and development organization focused on improving education, provides support services for the Ribbon of Hope program.

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation and McREL will host four informational webinars this summer about the Ribbon of Hope Program, providing potential applicants with information on grant eligibility, the application process, and reporting requirements. These webinars will be held on:

  • Thursday, July 14, 12:00 p.m. EDT
  • Tuesday, July 26, 11:00 a.m. EDT
  • Tuesday, August 16, 3:00 p.m. EDT
  • Thursday, September 1, 12:00 p.m. EDT To register for the webinars, please visit http://ow.ly/V3UA300kFuW.

For more information about the Ribbon of Hope program, including answers to frequently asked questions and a recording of a previous informational webinar, please visit http://www2.mcrel.org/NCGSKFRibbonOfHope/index.asp#.

CITW helps Michigan school district develop college and career readiness

Chippewa Valley Schools in Clinton Township, Michigan, has been working to improve its curriculum and instruction practices with the goal of better preparing its students for post-secondary success. Part of its strategy has been to train every teacher in the district in Classroom Instruction That Works. In this article in a local newspaper, Director of Curriculum Pam Jones said, “Every teacher . . . has been trained in highly effective classroom instruction practices. It’s really about developing collaborative skills in student, and those 21st century skills of creativity, working together, and working cooperatively.”

Read the entire article.