"An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people."
– Thomas Jefferson
The research team of the Internal Coherence Project has developed a set of processes and protocols to build the collective capability of the adults in a school/school system to carry out an instructional improvement strategy. With the release of the new publication, The Internal Coherence Framework: Creating the Conditions for Continuous Improvement in Schools (2017, Harvard Education Press), the team shares its clinical tools and the research base that has shaped their design or selection.
The book addresses topics that, when left unaddressed, routinely undermine the success of reform efforts. These include the creation of psychological safety, a vision anchored in the instructional core, a strategy focused on adult learning, and the explicit cultivation of collective efficacy for instructional improvement. The internal coherence approach and clinical tools were developed in SERP partnerships with school districts in Massachusetts, Texas, and California, as well as institutes for professional development in New York. SERP partners from the Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute and the Clovis Unified School District have begun to lead the coherence work in over 50 schools in the Central Valley.
IC researchers Michelle Forman (SERP), Elizabeth Leisy Stosich (Fordham University), and Candice Bocala (WestEd), are developing ways for individual schools, school systems, and professional development institutions to connect to the project. If you are interested in using the foundational learning experiences, essential practices, or internal coherence survey (available for free download at ic.serpmedia.org), send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mindfulness practices in schools have recently attracted a great deal of attention; a substantial body of evidence suggests that they improve focus, reduce stress, and support health. But introducing yoga or mediation can feel awkward to teachers who do not themselves embrace these practices. And bringing in specialists can be cost prohibitive for cash-strapped schools. A partnership project with the Baltimore City Public Schools tackled this problem head on. The project produced Focus 5, a set of deep breathing exercises that are simple to introduce into any classroom at no cost. Teachers can lead the exercises, have a student lead, or use an online recording. Each of the exercises has just 5 steps and can be done in under 5 minutes. “I think the most surprising thing has been the students I expect to be the most resistant, it works the best for. It’s almost like a reset button,” said Ms. Davis, a 6th grade teacher. A compelling video produced by Wide Angle Media of Focus 5 in use in several classrooms can be viewed at serpmedia.org/focus5.
The Evidence for ESSA initiative is including Word Generation Weekly in its database of evidence-based programs and is looking for schools to volunteer as ambassadors. Ambassador schools respond to queries from potential Word Generation adopters about their own experience with the program and its implementation. If you are using WordGen Weekly and would like to help others who are interested, sign up here!
Word Generation, a set of Tier 1, cross content area curricular resources designed to build academic literacy in grades 4-8, was tested as part of the IES Reading for Understanding initiative. Results from the four-district randomized trial point to numerous benefits for students using the program.
Elementary and middle grades students made significant gains in taught vocabulary, perspective positioning, and deep reading comprehension. Elementary students made additional gains on measures of academic language skills and perspective articulation skills. Preliminary analyses also show that English-learners had significantly higher gains than their non-EL peers in perspective articulation and academic language skills, suggesting that Word Generation can help English-learners close the gap on these dimensions.
Implementation varied significantly across classrooms and schools, and effects were significantly larger for classes that implemented more of the curriculum. For example, for middle school students in classes with the highest levels of implementation, effect sizes for taught vocabulary were nearly double those for the full sample.
Word Generation also had observable impacts on teaching. Preliminary analyses of CLASS assessment results point to higher quality interactions in Word Generation classrooms, a finding that extended to Word Generation teachers’ other classrooms in the second year of implementation. This finding suggests the potential of Word Generation to serve as a training ground for the skills emphasized in 21st century standards.
To learn more about Word Generation results from the CCDD study, as well as prior research on the program, visit http://wordgen.serpmedia.org/studies.html.
SERP welcomes aboard Michelle Hlubinka, a seasoned curriculum designer and leader from the maker movement. Michelle has joined SERP’s team in San Francisco to expand and update the Science Generation program. Michelle will be collaborating closely with writers and designers as well as with middle school science teachers associated with the Middle School Quality Initiative in New York City. Michelle possesses a unique combination of creative skills spanning art, design, teaching, content development, and technology. With degrees from Yale, Harvard, and MIT, she has worked in a wide variety of settings, including the Exploratorium and the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, educational publishing, and the classroom.
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