September 30, 2015

New College and Career Readiness Standards Resources Available on LINCS

I was delighted to find the following announcement from LINCS in my email this morning:
We’re happy to announce the recent addition of fifteen resources to the LINCS College and Career Standards Resource Collection. They include eight College and Career Readiness (CCR) resources in mathematics and seven in English language arts/literacy. These exemplary teaching and learning resources were recommended and reviewed by coaches and staff from OCTAE’s Implementing CCR Standards in Adult Education project. You’ll find a range of tools aimed primarily at instructors responsible for providing instruction aligned to CCR standards including some to assist instructors with students with limited English proficiency. 
These resources complement the ELA/Literacy and Mathematics professional development materials available from OCTAE to support CCR Standards alignment in adult education classrooms and programs. The recently posted teaching and learning resources are sure to be a welcome addition to adult educators nation-wide.

September 29, 2015

Writing to Sources: Session I

Washoe County educators gathered Tuesday evening for the first of a two-session inservice, "CCSS: Writing to Sources". The focus for these sessions is how teachers might better support students to use evidence from text and media to write opinion and informative pieces.  Over two evenings participants will explore the CCSS Instructional Shifts, Standards for Writing, instructional activities, and CCSS-aligned resources that support teaching and learning focused on writing to sources. 

This first session began as participants used print and video content as well as student writing samples to explore the Instructional Shifts and Common Core Standards for Writing. Participants then reviewed instructional supports to move from reading to writing and an instructional move, Think and Write, that supports students to use evidence from text when writing to inform and writing to persuade. Between this first and second session, teachers will draft (and perhaps teach) a lesson that focuses on writing. 

Materials for this session are linked below. 

September 28, 2015

Student Learning Objectives, Session 2: Learning Content & Assessments at Northstar Online School

North Star Online School teachers and administrators gathered this morning for their second professional learning session focused on Student Learning Objectives. During the hour together, participants reviewed the expectations for learning content and assessments within SLOs. Materials for this session are available on the Washoe County District Website under the Student Learning Department (protected materials require a district log-in to access). 

September 24, 2015

'Focusing on the Core for All' - Session 1 for ELA

Options Area educators gathered this morning for their first session of 'Focusing on the Core for All', the Options NVACS professional learning cycle for the 2015-2016 school year. This group includes teachers from Options Area schools, Implementation Specialists from MTSS and Student Support Services departments, Student Support Services area administrators, and Options Area school site principals, each of whom has chosen a content focus for the year (English Language Arts, History-Social Studies, Science, or Mathematics). The professional learning cycle for this year builds on that of past years (namely, the High School Core Task Project and Shifting Instruction to the Core) and is focused on supporting teachers, implementation specialists, and administrators in the Options Area to expand and deepen alignment of instruction, materials, and programs Common Core Standards and Instructional Shifts so that all students are prepared for college and career. More details on this professional learning cycle can be found here and linked below.
The content for this first meeting was English Language Arts and the session began with a focus on reviewing the alignment of instructional materials to the standards and shifts using the EQuIP Rubrics. Participants then worked in grade-level content groups to engage in an instructional move, Modified Fishbowl Discussion. Finally, participants started planning for implementation of the discussion strategy in their classrooms. To provide evidence of and get feedback on student learning, participants will bring examples of student work to the next ELA professional learning session.

Materials for the session are linked below. 


September 23, 2015

CCR Standards Project Convening

State teams that are part of OCTAE's CCR Standards Project met last week for a second workshop to support their efforts to implement College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education in their programs and classrooms. A description of this project and professional development units from the Implementation Institutes that help adult educators with staring to implement these standards are available on LINCS here.  The units are grouped around the Key Advances English Language Arts (Complexity, Evidence, Knowledge) and Mathematics (Focus, Coherence, Rigor).  These materials include ready-made PowerPoints, participant handouts, and a facilitator's guide.  

September 11, 2015

RISE Academy Curriculum Committees

Educators at RISE Academy for Adult Achievement have begun the challenging and worthwhile work of building scope and sequence guides for each course they offer and carefully curating resources to support these course guides. The curriculum committees met this evening for their first planning session, which focused on using the RISE Academy Curriculum Evaluation Tool and the course planning template to guide their ongoing work. Teachers will work in committees throughout the school year to draft these detailed guides that will support course alignment to the standards and consistency throughout the program. Materials from this evening's session and those the teachers will use to support their curriculum work are linked below.

Framing Professional Development at North Star Online School

North Star educators gathered Friday morning to frame their professional development work for the 2015-16 school year. Participants began the session by reviewing their selected focus from the Washoe County School District Four Fundamentals, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support  , and discussing how their current practices align and how they might better align with department expectations. Teachers and administrators then reviewed the results of their taking of the CCSS Knowledge and Practice Survey by discussing the survey's data report, its implications for building practice, and areas of potential support focus moving forward. Materials for this session are linked below.

September 5, 2015

Planning for CCSS-Aligned Teaching and Learning: Part I

At the start of this school year I have been delighted to work with educators as we continue plan lessons and units to ensure teaching and learning aligns to the ELA/Literacy Common Core and Instructional Shifts. There are loads of supportive resources available at the start of this school year, and this post is the first to address some of what what is available for ELA and Literacy teachers. For these content area teachers, a suite of resources provided by the Standards and Student Achievement Partners is an excellent place to start: the Instructional Shifts, Instructional Practice Guides, and the Text Complexity Collection

Instructional Shifts and Instructional Practice Guides 
Front and center in our considerations should always remain the Instructional Shifts (linked here). Complex text and its academic vocabulary, text-dependent and text-specific tasks, and the building of a coherent body of knowledge are the practices that should be in our classrooms daily. The level at which classrooms practice this teaching and learning is, of course, determined by the text and the center of instruction and the expectations of grade-level standards.   Defining what these Instructional Shifts look like in practice is greatly supported by using the the Instructional Practice Guides. One designed for coaching and the other to support lesson planning, these guides provide the specific look-fors we might consider as we plan materials and practice instruction that is better aligned to the CCSS. 

Complex Text & Its Academic Vocabulary
Another excellent place to start planning for instruction aligned to the Standards and Shifts is SAP's collection of text complexity resources. (After all, no matter how good the questions or coherent the body of knowledge, it doesn’t matter how well we teach with a mis-aligned text.)  As you select text for the center of instruction, it should be one that you not only believe to be appropriately complex but also worth reading - it shows exceptional craft, contains important content, and is part of building a coherent body of knowledge (see the Teaching Channel's excellent video, 'How to Identify Texts Worth Reading'). In an ideal world, we would then check the appropriateness of the text’s complexity with a review of quantitative and qualitative features provided the publisher. Lacking these, a teacher can quantitatively analyze the text one of these quantitative analysis tools (I prefer Reading Maturity Metric for this because I can copy and paste un-scrubbed text) and use that score to place it on the grade level band using this quick reference chart. With a text that falls in the quantitative measure, a qualitative analysis can be dome with this rubric and perhaps this 1-pager for to  what makes the text complex. An excellent resource for identifying academic vocabulary in a given text is the Academic Word Finder. Once you know what about a text makes it particularly complex, it is time to consider both your reader and task. - knowing what you do about  your students and this text, determine the activities (scaffolds, processing tasks, etc) that best match. 

Finally, a plug about the collaborative nature of this work; find a colleague or few to partner with before you dig-in to this worthwhile work! Just as we ask students to work with parters and build on one-another’s thinking, we should practice the same. Have fun with your colleagues! 

September 2, 2015

CCSS Knowledge and Practice Survey Reflection with MTSS & Social Emotional Learning Specialists

Specialists from the MTSS and SEL departments in Washoe County School District gathered this morning to review the data from their CCSS Knowledge and Practice Survey. Reflecting on their experience, the coaches discussed the implications of the survey for their own practice and how they might continue to incorporate the Instructional Shifts into their support for teachers, administrators, and buildings throughout the district. The deck for the session is linked here.