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December 2018

Feature Article

Educative curricula and when a little PD just isn't worth it

Decades of research in mathematics, English, and science education have made it clear that students make substantial progress only when they experience rich learning tasks in their classes that require the students to engage in sense making; it is very difficult for teachers to arrange for strong student learning outcomes when the curriculum for students is weak. However, we are now learning that a good, cognitively demanding curriculum for students, while necessary, is far from sufficient. For example, in a recent analysis of the outcomes of 50 different sets of science curriculum materials, only the materials that included additional supports for teachers reliably produced good learning outcomes for students; the presence of extra supports for students mattered much less. And we are also learning about why the common ways of rolling out curricula rarely obtain the student outcomes that are being sought. From these new insights, districts can become smarter about how they roll out new curricula. Read More

Improvement Science

How can network leaders design for a strong, productive network?

Networks have always been a mechanism for improvement; as social learning theory reminds us that, when well organized, opportunities to learn together can be more powerful than individual learning. We know that bringing people together to work on a common goal can be exciting, but to enact real change we must push beyond a sharing network-a collection of educators who share their practice-to a scientific professional learning community-one in which a diverse set of individuals engage in disciplined inquiry to solve a common problem of practice (Russell et al., under review). In our work with networked improvement communities, we know full well the complexity of the challenges network leaders face as they design for this collective work. We offer a few tips to think about how to design and sustain strong, productive networks. Read More

Improvement Science in Action

PDSA cycles reveal hard truths about deep science instruction

Paterson Public School's Guiding Coalition, a working group in academic services composed of content area senior staff, began its journey with improvement science in the fall of 2016. As we examined the various issues that we faced in curriculum and instruction, one flash point was the extraordinarily low state achievement test scores in science on the Grade 8 and high school biology assessments. Our Grade 4 scores were almost on par with other students around the state, but with each successive assessment, we saw greater declines in proficiency rates. Read More

Partner Spotlight

New Brunswick realizes increases in ELA, math metrics through IFL work

New Brunswick Public Schools (NJ) is a continuing partner with the Institute for Learning (IFL). Over the last 4 academic years, the district has seen definite growth across grades 3 - 10 in both English language arts and mathematics, as measured on the NJ state assessment tests. In addition to the gains made at each of the grade levels, there were several instances in which the growth of the district significantly surpassed the growth at the state level. Read More

Coaching Corner

Coaching Moves Practice

Recently, the Institute for Learning was selected to bring its expertise and extensive experience with instructional coaching to mathematics educators in the state of Tennessee. More specifically, IFL provided instruction around coaching moves that support high-quality teaching, resulting in improved student learning. In a partnership with researchers from the Learning Research and Development Center, University of Pittsburgh, and the Tennessee State Department of Education via funding from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the IFL drew upon previous experience with coaching to extensively explore three key practices: (1) mathematical and pedagogical goal setting; (2) deep, specific conversations about the instructional triangle; and (3) evidence-based feedback. Read More

Content Matters

Math, a journey of understanding

Syracuse City School District and the Institute for Learning (IFL) have been partners in education since 2014 with the goal of improving student learning. The approach to that goal has been two-fold - grow teacher conceptual content knowledge while refining instructional practices. In support of the district's goals, our eclectic team of SOAR certified trainers focuses on the training and implementation of the IFL's SOAR Mathematics survey tools and activities during tiered instruction (intervention). We work with teachers to explore learning progressions for mathematical concepts and analyze student responses to identify knowledge assets and areas of unfinished learning. During these endeavors, we have seen firsthand the role that having a deep conceptual understanding of the content plays in supporting student learning, especially for those students with significant areas of unfinished learning. Read More

IFL News and Events

Find us at national and local events.

IFL fellows and researchers will deliver keynote presentations and lead educative professional development sessions at national conferences throughout the year. We hope to see you at one of these events. Read More

Bridges To Learning

Research. Practice. Results.

BRIDGES connects educators with knowledge and research that shows every student can learn when provided cognitively challenging instructional opportunities and learning environments can flourish when collaboration is valued, voice is honored, and agency is realized. Download entire newsletter.