Perspectives

In schools across the country, the transition to the Common Core ELA/Literacy standards is in full swing, and educators are deeply engaged in the work of deciding what these new standards mean for their students and their classroom practice.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Common Core Standards
  • Capacity Building: Using Evidence, Systemic Support
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    The Power of Collaboration

    As a middle child, some might say that I was born a collaborator. Certainly I was always the one trying to get everyone to share ideas, listen to one another, and “play nice.” However, I believe I fully recognized the value of collaboration when I became a teacher. In my first year, I worked with several veteran teachers when planning my lessons; their years of experience brought a level of expertise to the table that I could not match, but in return, I could offer a fresh perspective and new ideas.

    Most Recent: April 7, 2014
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  • Capacity Building: Collaborative Culture
  • The Work We Can Trust

    “Failing to give expert classroom craftspeople the opportunity to reflect, plan, and experiment together about how to help their students reach these ambitious goals is the equivalent of using prefab components and hoping they will look and function like custom-built.” (p. 15)
    Remodeling Literacy Learning Together: Paths to Standards Implementation (NCLE, 2014)

    Most Recent: March 28, 2014
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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Assessment , Common Core Standards
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  • Once again the Illinois Reading Council Spring Conference: Building Bridges to Literacy met all of our expectations and beyond.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Content Area Literacies
  • Capacity Building: Inquiry Stance
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    A new survey sheds light on keys to successful implementation of Common Core State Standards.

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    "Ask any educator what the major challenge is in providing the effective professional learning needed to implement college and career readiness standards, and the answer is the same—TIME."

    Establishing Time for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2013)

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    I attended a conference recently where there was much talk about collaboration. School systems from across the country sent administrators, teachers, and board members to do some collaborative planning.

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    This academic year Common Core State Standards for English language arts became a powerful reality in the majority of US P–12 schools. How professional educators implemented the standards became a question of immediate consequence for teachers, school leaders, and millions of students.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Assessment , Common Core Standards
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  • Thoughts and Questions?

    Every educator has had them: the “ah-ha” moments that happen when teachers pool their collective expertise to crack a tough instructional problem. Maybe it happens in a grade level or department meeting, as teachers are reviewing data or student work together and realize what misconception is causing so many of their students to stumble on a particular problem and how they can address it.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Common Core Standards
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    What We Make Visible

    "What we make visible in our classrooms, in our schools, even in our lives, shows what we value, what is important, and what we feel and believe." —Christopher Lehman

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    It was a hectic and stressful few weeks in my job as a director of instructional media services.

    Most Recent: February 21, 2014

    A few decades ago, when the digital revolution was just beginning to influence education, it was not uncommon to read enthusiastic forecasts of what computers and online communication could mean for science, math, career and technical education, foreign language study, and the social sciences. But the prevailing notion at that time seemed to be that, except for embracing word processing, English and literacy studies wouldn’t change much.

    And as we can well see, that notion has turned out to be completely wrong.

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  • Selected Literacy Topics: Digital Literacies 
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    Multiple times a day, teachers, principals, counselors, librarians are paying attention to the things they see and hear, and then using this information to make decisions. We gather information in more formal ways through assignments, surveys, and class discussions as a means of determining what’s working and what isn’t.  We have been gathering and interpreting data for the purposes of making professional decisions for a very long time. But today, when I hear someone using the four-letter d-word amid a group of educators, I inevitably see the eyes begin to roll.

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  • Capacity Building: Using Evidence
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    "Intentional Slowness"

    Snowy weather and the start of the new year spurred Dru Tomlin, director of the Association of Middle Level Educators, to compose "Intentional Slowness," a recent blog on how our pace affects our perspective.

    Thoughts and Questions?

    The Ford’s Theatre Education Department is in the exciting process of scaling up some of our successful student and teacher initiatives, particularly our National Oratory Fellows program. The NOF program is well into its third year with a cohort of 14 ambitious and dedicated educators from around the country who are learning and sharing strategies for integrating oratory and drama into their day-to-day classroom practice.  The Fellows all teach students in the

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  • Content Areas: Performing Arts
  • Selected Literacy Topics: Speaking
  • Thoughts and Questions?

    Here in Illinois, many of our neighbors were hit recently by a string of late-season tornados. Such events, like so many other natural and human-created tragedies we’ve experienced this year, are often accompanied by an amazing number of stories about human connection and commitment to the well being of others. 

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    "Conversations Worth Having"

           On December 3rd, after a relaxing Thanksgiving Holiday, the South High School Literacy Coaches hosted their Literacy Liaison Breakfast—a time to meet with colleagues, reflect on our teaching, and, of course, enjoy a homemade breakfast prepared by the literacy coaching team.  Each year, this seems to be a favorite activity for our second years because they value the conversation that accompanies the reading of the text. 

    Thoughts and Questions?

    One of the interesting findings in the NCLE study Remodeling Literacy Learning: Making Room for What Works is how frequently P–12 educators participate in professional learning communities. For instance, the study found that on average, principals participate in as many as five different professional learning communities monthly.

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    Teaching Literacy in 140 characters

    Having just returned from a wonderful time in Boston, learning from some of the best and brightest minds in the business, I come back with a major take-away; there is a new literacy out there that schools probably need to begin teaching, or at least stop ignoring: Twitter Literacy  Walk into any session at either of these two amazing conferences, and you would see brilliant presenters up front sharing precious  nuggets of wisdom with their audiences; however, if you didn’t know any better, you would have thought, by

    Thoughts and Questions?