The Thinking Curriculum: Implementation with Intentionality

December 2-3, 2010

The University Club • 123 University Place • Pittsburgh, PA 15260 • 412-648-8213


Given that an effective teacher is the single most important factor in boosting student achievement and that no single reform—inside or outside of school—comes close to having such a profound impact on the achievement gap as an effective teacher, we will:

  1. Examine how we think about human capital in education—in particular, what teachers need to know and how teachers need to be trained to value knowledge and to love learning, and in turn support students to do the same.
  2. Discuss how to meet the challenges of supporting teachers to engage students with content and skills in a rich way that genuinely improves outcomes for students by providing a comprehensive, content-rich education that will give them the background knowledge required to effectively achieve success in today’s world.
  3. Examine ways that districts are intentional and effective in providing a high-quality education for all students in every classroom.


  • Rotherham, A.J., & Willingham, D.T. (2010). "21st century" skills: Not new, but a worthy challenge. American Educator, 34(1), 17-20.
  • Harris, E. (2010). Six steps to successfully scale impact in the nonprofit sector. The Evaluation Exchange, xv(1), 4-6.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

6:00-7:00 PMWelcome Reception
7:00 -8:30 PMDinner
Rich Content, Critical Thinking, and Excellent Pedagogy for All Students: What Does This Really Mean for Schools?

Dan Willingham
Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia
Columnist for "Ask the Cognitive Scientist," American Educator
Blogger, Washington Post
Associate Editor of Mind, Brain, and Education

Friday, December 3, 2010

8:30-9:00 AMBreakfast
9:00-10:30AMPanel Discussion: Taking the Thinking Curriculum to Scale

Mary Kay Stein, moderator
Director, Learning Policy Center
Associate Director, Learning Research and Development Center
Professor, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh

Ramon Cortines, panelist
Superintendent, Los Angeles Unified School District

Gina Ikemoto, panelist
Executive Director for Research and Policy Development, New Leaders for New Schools

Dan Willingham, panelist
Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia
10:30-10:45 AMBreak
10:45-12:15 PMThe Thinking Curriculum in Every Classroom: What Must Leaders Do to Realize This Work at Scale?
12:15-1:15 PMLunch
1:15-2:15 PMPoster Presentations: How Are Schools Scaling Effective Practices?

Grand Rapids Public Schools
Prince George’s County Public Schools
2:15-2:30 AMBreak
2:30-3:30 PMThe Elephant in the Room: The High Stakes Test and the Thinking Curriculum—Can They Coexist?

Lauren Resnick
Director, Institute for Learning
Distinguished University Professor
3:30-4:00 PMReflection and Summary


IFL Poster Presentations are similar to traditional poster presentations, but are presented using a computer laptop. The presentations include using a PowerPoint or video or both. The IFL Poster sessions are 20 minutes in length, with 10 minutes of presentation and 10 minutes of discussion.

Special Focus: Taking DL PK-12 to Scale

We invite you to share your school or school district's plan for scaling the practices, routines, and tools of Disciplinary Literacy (DL) pk-12. Taking any practice to scale requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring. We want to learn from the ways districts or schools are intentional in planning, executing, and monitoring DL practices, routines, and tools. Because of the format of the poster sessions, it may be more fruitful to examine a single content area in a specific grade configuration or a specific aspect of the scale up, such as planning or execution or monitoring. The questions to be answered are how do we ensure that deep content and sound pedagogy is available to every student? How did we plan for it? How did we implement it? How do we know a desirable quality level is in place? How many students have availability to it? How do we know?

Please respond to this invitation by contacting Rosita Apodaca at The idea is to share practices, problems, and have an opportunity to learn from one another. Keep it small and invite feedback. We all will learn.


Electronic submission of a one-page abstract is required, and all abstracts must adhere to formatting guidelines. Abstracts will be distributed to the participants. All accepted abstracts will be published on the IFL website

Please limit your abstract to one page and 350 words. Clearly state the purpose of the presentation and link it to the focus being addressed—taking DL to scale. Provide a clear description of the practice/program and its context (e.g., goals, where it takes place, who is involved, etc.), note the steps taken in planning for scale up, implementing the scale up or monitoring the scale up. Provide the ways that progress is being measured, and the lessons learned from the way you selected to sale up.

Obviously, the story to be told should be interesting and your plan to scale up should be sound. However, the ideas need not be uncontroversial. Work that encompasses or might assist the participants in their work, or has broad application and/or implications, is the type most likely to be of interest in a poster session and is likely to receive considerable feedback.

A common criticism of poster sessions is that the presenter attempts to tell the entire trajectory of the aspect being presented. Present only enough information or data to support the effectiveness of the scale up. However, modesty is not a particular virtue; you should make its effectiveness, significance and originality of the practice very clear because viewers may not immediately capture its importance. Posters should represent a focused piece of the scale up. Rather than trying to depict every component of the scale up, choose one element and highlight it.

Poster Tips

A poster does not have to generate a lot of work. Imagine giving a 5-10-minute report to a peer. What would you say? Write down what you would say, and organize the key points in the following way:

  • Provide a statement of problem: what did you decide needed to scale up?
  • Give purpose of the poster (can also be clearly stated in title).
  • Identify Participant and Participant’s affiliation on the PPT.
  • Provide a description of the practice you decided to take to scale and what aspect of the scale up process you are discussing—planning, implementation, or monitoring and evaluation.
  • Use at least one graphic (can be a photograph) illustrating the practice/program’s progress.
  • Note who is involved, or how the practice/program works.
  • State the lessons learned so far (if the program is currently underway).
  • Provide implications for future action (where will this lead?).
  • Note the source of funding for the practice/project if relevant
  • Ask for feedback on a specific aspect of your project.
  • Limit the presentation to 5-10 minutes and leave 10 minutes for questions.

Once the PPT is prepared, place it on a key drive and bring it to the conference. The IFL will provide a laptop, screen, sound, and microphone.

Format for Abstract

Below is a guide in preparing your abstract that will serve as a handout that the IFL will print. Additional handouts and other pertinent session information are always welcome, but please bring 50 copies. If you have any questions, please contact Rosita Apodaca at: or All abstracts must be submitted by: November 22, 2010.

  • Title of Poster Presentation
  • Name of Presenter(s) and organization:
  • Goals of the Presentation
  • A 350-word summary of the scale up planning, implementation, or monitoring/evaluation of a DL practice, routine, or tool.
  • Contact information for further questions: