Posts Tagged "Teachers"

Teacher Shortages

With school starting, districts across the country are scrambling to find teachers for their classrooms.  Yesterday, educators and policymakers gathered in Tulsa, Oklahoma to attend the Oklahoma Teacher Pipeline Summit to discuss long-term solutions to the teacher shortage.  Some of the policy-based solutions that were discussed include:

  • State-funded loan forgiveness, scholarships or signing bonuses for university-prepared teachers who commit to working in a public school;
  • State funded paid student teacher internships;
  • University-created courses to prepare future educators for subject specific knowledge (e.g., the Tulsa University is creating a STEM minor for future teachers), pedagogical knowledge, and skills educators need to support today’s students, including courses in childhood trauma.

An interim legislative study on policy solutions to address teacher shortages is anticipated.

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New Review: Illustrative Mathematics

[Source: Illustrative Mathematics]

[Source: Illustrative Mathematics]

Illustrative Mathematics (IM) is a supplemental, open educational resource (OER) that supports the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) in grades K-12. The program is available online and includes sample problems, curriculum modules, and professional development resources. Materials are available at no cost at www.illustrativemathematics.org. Learning List recently reviewed IM content for middle school (i.e., grades 6-8).

IM content is organized by CCSSM domain (e.g., Geometry), cluster (e.g., “Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving area, surface area, and volume.”), and standard (e.g., “Find the area of right triangles, other triangles, special quadrilaterals, and polygons by…”). For each standard, the program provides a set of printable “learning tasks,” or multi-step problems. Each learning task is accompanied by a “Commentary,” a detailed narrative description of the solution, and a comments section. The Commentary explains the problem, its purpose, and different strategies students may use to solve it.  The solutions narrative provides step-by-step guidance in reaching the problem’s solution. The comments section allows users to add their feedback and suggestions.

“Course Blueprints” for grades 6-8 were “Under construction!” at the time of our review (July 2016); Course Blueprints available at the high school level are curriculum modules organized in units with diagnostic pre-tests and summative assessments. Additional instructional materials and professional development modules are available for purchase on the IM website.

About Illustrative Mathematics*

IM is a discerning community of educators dedicated to the coherent learning of mathematics. Founded in 2011 at the University of Arizona, IM has operated since 2013 as an independent 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. IM shares carefully vetted resources for teachers and teacher leaders to give our children an understanding of mathematics and skill in using it. IM provides expert guidance to states, districts, curriculum writers, and assessment writers working to improve mathematics education.

* The content in this section is provided by or adapted from Illustrative Mathematics

Subscribe to Learning List for access to the spec sheet, full editorial review and detailed alignment report for this material.

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Happy Birthday, John Dewey (1859-1952)

dewey

[Image Source: Biography.com]

Today, Learning List celebrates the life of John Dewey, the American philosopher, social reformer, and educator, who was born in Vermont on October 20, 1859.  Dewey was a leader of the Progressive Movement in American education, which emphasized active learning and democratic classroom practices as a means to transmit the core social and moral values (e.g., tolerance) needed to ensure the social continuity of America’s democracy.

In contrast to previous, more authoritarian instructional models that focused on rote learning, Dewey held that students must be actively engaged with and invested in what they are learning and that curriculum must be connected to students’ lives. Dewey’s approach recognized the role of students’ personal experiences in shaping their learning and that students learn best when they are ready for new content.  This idea was expressed again in 1966 with Jerome Bruner’s concept of the spiral curriculum where concepts are revisited across the elementary and middle grades in order to address differences in students’ readiness to learn.

Dewey believed that teachers should not act as instructional authorities.  Instead, they should serve as facilitators of student learning, observing, supporting, and attending to individual learning needs. Dewey also asserted that the curriculum should be relevant to students and their lives.  For example, in a 1916 argument in support of vocational education, Dewey wrote:

The problem is not that of making the schools an adjunct to manufacture and commerce, but of utilizing the factors of industry to make school life more active, more full of immediate meaning, more connected with out-of-school experience (from Democracy in Education).

This approach to curriculum and instruction continues to resonate in American education. Dewey’s work, along with that of Jean Piaget, is fundamental to the contemporary Constructivist movement. Beyond Constructivism, most contemporary American educators understand the importance of a relevant curriculum and student-centered instruction in engaging students with content and meeting diverse student learning needs.

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Models Matter

Instructional ModelsWhen selecting materials, one important criterion educators should consider is the instructional model on which the material is based. Resources should mirror and support the model the district uses or else instruction may become disjointed.

Over the next few months, Learning List’s blog will discuss the instructional models most frequently implemented in the products we review. Our discussion will seek to highlight the key attributes of each model and clarify where a particular model may or may not be an appropriate structure for content.

Learning List has reviewed more than 1,000 instructional materials in the four core content areas and Technology Applications. In the process of our reviews, we have become familiar with products that incorporate a variety of instructional models. We’ve reviewed products that organize instruction using well-known models, such as 5E, Universal Design, and Understanding by Design (UbD), as well as lesser known models targeted to particular subject areas and specific learning needs.

Generally speaking, each model presents a recognizable structure that seeks to order content in a way that supports engagement and helps students make sense of what they are learning. Models compress the learning cycle into a predictable set of routines that may be effectively implemented in classroom schedules at the elementary, middle, and/or high school levels. Each model provides an underlying framework for instruction that provides consistency and coherence within and across grade levels, structuring learning experiences in ways that enable teachers to plan effective lessons and allow students to purposefully explore content.

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Read, Reflect, Plan: How Planning Makes Us Better

[First Day of Summer," Paul Bica, Flickr Creative Commons]

[First Day of Summer,” Paul Bica, Flickr Creative Commons]

This week, Ed Week Teacher had a great article explaining “3 Things You Can Do This Summer to Be a Better Teacher in the Fall.” The second point the article makes is “Read, Reflect, Plan,” with an emphasis on the importance of planning. In that regard, the article suggests:

  • Map out your school year with a month-by-month instructional plan. Framing your monthly goals will help you to launch an organized year of learning and teaching.
  • Identify the resources you will need and make a list so you can begin to gather what you need over the summer.

Learning List helps teachers streamline their planning and make their instruction more effective.

In order to succeed academically, students must learn the knowledge and skills the state’s standards require. With so many standards and so little class time, teachers have to be instructionally efficient.

One way to be instructionally efficient is to use only the portions of your instructional materials that are truly aligned to the standards. For each material, Learning List’s reviews the citations listed in the publisher’s correlation for alignment to the three c’s of each standard: content, context and cognitive demand. The alignment report lists the citations Learning List found to be aligned to each standard, as well as the citations found not to be aligned, along with a Reviewer’s Comment explaining which of the three c’s each non-aligned citation failed to address.

By referencing Learning List’s alignment reports when creating lesson plans, teachers can easily identify the citations that will teach students what the standards require them to learn, thus saving teachers hours of work both during the summer and the school year.

One last point, if your district subscribes to Learning List, and we have not yet reviewed the materials you are planning to use next fall, simply Request a Review. Let us work for you.

Teachers, we hope you enjoy your summer! You’ve certainly earned it.

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