#SOL15: March Challenge Day 8 – Increasing Learning


Today’s story is the final installment in this week’s recounting of a focused professional development opportunity that our literacy team developed and delivered that included Quality Instructional Practices, ELA Iowa Core Standards and Assessment for Learning.  To recap, the first post began with much Anticipation on Day 5.


And then based on learning with Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate, I shared the Instructional Strategies Bracket on Day 6 that Dyan Sundermeyer created and used to refocus attention on common strategies in a building.


On Day 7 I shared the work that we did around Quality Instructional Practices based on scenarios in Chapter 1 of Dr. Mary Howard’s Book.

Good to Great Teaching cover

So for those of you that live and breathe in the world of professional development or coaching, here are a few more details to whet your appetite.

Modeled Grade 5 Scenario 

The scenario you read about yesterday was used on our second day with leadership teams.  The thinking behind the grade 5 scenario was modeled after everyone had a chance to read and reflect (gradual release of responsibility) Then participants had a choice – scenarios from first grade, third grade or even title 1.  Their task was to read the initial scenario and record the “Great, Good and Bad”, reflect on some questions, read the follow-up teaching scenario and consider the deliberate changes made by the teacher to move more actions to “Great”. At that point the teachers and administrators found a partner in the room and talked about the scenario and their understanding of the teaching sequence, student learning, and teacher changes.  (Each scenario was color coded so it was easy to find a partner with the same color pages.)

Deepened Understanding of the Iowa Core ELA Standards

Our PD work continued with looking at two specific ELA standards through the K-5 range and considering these questions. How do they build on the previous grade level learning? What do they require of teachers?  What do they require of students?

  • Anchor Standard RL.3:  Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
  • Anchor Standard RL.7:  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Close Reading of the Scenarios

Participants ended the “Standards Learning” portion with an application piece.  Here was their task:

standards in MTSS

The teachers and administrators reread the scenario through the lens of “which standards” and then checked for grade level standards on those color coded documents.  Possible answers for grade 5 include: RL.5.10, W.5.10 and SL.5.1.

Assessment for Learning – Learning Targets

Time was going to be an issue so our plan was to just begin with Learning Targets and provide an opportunity for our participants to work on those before we meet again.  I’m going to stay with the “plan” as time did necessitate some shifting. We had some learning around the big definition of “Assessment for Learning” including Learning Targets and the fact that “clear goals” is .75 Effect Size (Hattie). Clear learning goals are absolutely essential for learning and assessment but we did not go into the difference between “goals” and “targets” at this time.  Here is how the scenarios were used for the third time (close reading).

learning tasks

And the finale learning activity for the session involved watching a video of classroom instruction and in a triad looking for 1) “Great, Good and Bad; 2)Iowa Core ELA Standards and 3) Learning Targets. Can you identify the iterative nature of our work?

How do you have teachers grapple with the HOW – Quality Instruction and the  WHAT – ELA Core Standards simultaneously?

How important is our design of GREAT work?

How do you model GREAT work in your PD?

Professional Development – Always a work in progress . . . Our state model

Iowa PD Model

11 responses

  1. Hi Fran, Thank you for sharing your work on focused professional development. I love the final learning activity. You are brilliant as always!

    1. Thanks, Amy!
      I believe that it’s critical that we model in order to literally show how and why we MUST attend to multiple facets of instruction every minute of every day. And of course, I love beginning with #G2Great as our touchstone scenarios!

      It’s also helpful to be part of a great team so our ideas can expand exponentially!

  2. Your teachers certainly have the opportunity to walk away with thinking that impacts their daily work. Thanks for your details.

    1. Lee Ann,
      I think it helps that we have all been teachers and continue to be teachers at heart. Understanding both what teachers want as well as what teachers need helps us provide better support for learning and change!

  3. Hello Fran. Amazing work as always. It is so important that our PD has being a reflective teacher at its focus. Thank you for sharing this work.

    1. Thanks, Jill!
      My number one wish for ALL teachers is that they be reflective, thinking practitioners. It’s just critical for student learning! ❤

  4. While the PD is so complex and insanely well-crafted, the final activity allows a simply put (1, 2, 3) practice of the work. The iterative nature of this is brilliant. Something to teachers can hold on to. Fabulous work!

    1. Thanks, Julieanne!
      We have folks on so many levels that we, as a team, have to work hard to make sure that everyone continues to grow and learn. Some like to study the craft of the PD to replicate, others like to study the craft of the “instruction” while others love the simplicity of the color coding. All of these are features that can enhance instruction and as a part of the “management” can also move a teacher’s instruction from “Good to Great!”

  5. This was certainly an informative PD for your teachers. So often it is hard to come away with one useful idea. Having teachers actively involved in what is going on is so much more beneficial that just having them sit there listening and note taking.

    1. So true! The same learning that we want for our students has to be a part of PD. Some of my best sessions this year have been without any power point slides at all!

      I’ve done the awful “preach at them” ones in the past – so not helpful! 😦

  6. Hooray, hooray – I knew you’d share! I’m saving this to re-read carefully and share with my colleagues, Fran. Thank you.

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