All Together Now: Common Core and the Necessity of Professional Learning Communities

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 - 5:39pm

Puzzled_1991“The challenge confronting public education is not recruiting more good people to an ineffective system, but rather creating powerful systems that allow ordinary people to achieve success.”
     -Richard Dufour and Robert J. Marzano

In almost all professions, except education, it is understood that group collaboration is the fastest way to excellence and innovation. In the medical field, research indicates patients perceive a higher quality of care in group versus solo practice. Trends in scientific research also point toward the benefits of teamwork. Thomas M. Koulopoulos, author of The Innovation Zone: How Great Companies Re-Innovate for Amazing Success, looked at Nobel prize recipients in the physical sciences and found that “[i]n the first fifty years of the twentieth century, thirty-nine Nobel prizes were awarded to individuals and four to teams. In the second fifty years,...


Teaching Matters’ Common Core Summer Series

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, August 1, 2011 - 4:45pm

As of July 2011, 43 states have opted to implement the Common Core State Standards--the national educational standards intended to raise the bar on student achievement nationwide.  Much has been made of what these standards will mean for students, but what about teachers? What new proficiencies might teachers need to create tasks that meet the new standards and assessments that accurately gauge whether students have succeeded in the mastery of higher order skills?  It's easy to know whether a student has correctly identified parts of a speech. Comparatively speaking, it's more difficult to identify whether a student has sufficiently demonstrated knowledge of synthesis. How will teachers come to a common understanding of what is needed to assess these higher order skills? And what kinds of structures can leaders put in place to ensure their teaching staff is prepared to meet the challenge of the Common Core?

While schools are not expected to fully implement the standards until 2014, school leaders know that experimenting early and often will ease the instructional transition.  During the...


In the News: Teaching Matters at Chelsea High School

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 - 8:21pm

ChelseaTeaching Matters’ work was recently featured in a WNYC News report about academic gains being made by students at Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School. Over 90 percent of Juniors passed this year’s English and US History Regents exams, with comparable gains seen among Sophomores who took the Science Regents. Teaching Matters has worked in partnership with Chelsea High School for three years to help build a school culture of professional learning, planning and collaboration.

During the 2010-2011 school year, Senior Educational Consultants Jelbin DeLaCruz and Judith LeFevre worked with 18 teachers across grade levels and subject areas, with a specific focus on improving student writing outcomes. DeLaCruz and LeFevre supported staff in the creation of grade specific writing prompts and rubrics, aligning the curriculum to the school’s instructional priorities. Using Writing Matters as a model, the school administered a baseline writing assessment to identify deficiencies and strengths among the student...


Teaching Matters Awards First Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize to Jeanne Rotunda, Principal of West Side Collaborative

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - 2:32pm

2011 Rohatyn Prize Winner - WSCNEW YORK, July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/-- Teaching Matters is pleased to announce that Jeanne Rotunda, Principal of West Side Collaborative (MS 250) is the recipient of the first annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation. The $15,000 prize was presented to Rotunda by Elizabeth Rohatyn at Teaching Matters Fourth Annual Summer Forum for Principals. West Side Collaborative's online collaborative community fosters the staff's ability to differentiate instruction for students, share resources and lessons and strategically use assessments. Rotunda plans to use the award to build teacher effectiveness through the expansion of the school's online system.

The goal of the Rohatyn Prize is to recognize a school leader who has launched innovative practices in his or her school and to provide funding to support efforts to expand those practices. Before...


Teaching Matters Presents Fourth Annual Summer Forum for Principals with a Focus on the Common Core State Standards

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 10:34am

NEW YORK, June 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/--What are the Common Core State Standards and how will this new initiative affect instruction in our schools? In an effort to support school leaders in designing learning environments that produce career and college ready learners, Teaching Matters' Fourth Annual Summer Forum for Principals will feature a discussion about the implications of the Common Core State Standards on curriculum and assessment. Bena Kallick, co-author of Assessment Strategies for Self-Directed Learning, will facilitate an interactive conversation entitled, "Learner at the Core: How Common Core Reshapes our Thinking about Assessment.” The forum will take place on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 475 Riverside Drive at 1:30PM.  

Following the talk, the first annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation will be awarded to one of the five finalist schools, chosen from a field of over 100 nominations. Elizabeth Rohatyn, a champion of public education in New York City, will be on hand to present the Prize to the principal of the winning school. The recipient of the Rohatyn Prize will receive a one-time award of $15,000 to support, sustain or further an innovative school learning environment, program or practice that promotes academic rigor and has the potential to be...


Why Norm? It’s Good Form!

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, June 27, 2011 - 9:31am

by Dr. William L. Heller, Using Data Program Director
Cross-posted on the TERC Using Data blog

Data-savvy investigators never make important decisions based on a single source. When teams following the Using Data process believe they may have found a student learning problem, based on their analysis of standardized testing results, they know to confirm the problem through an examination of student work and other common formative assessments. When they do this, it’s important for them to have a norming process in place to ensure that group of people looking at large scoring checklist with multiple scoring options presented and a large red pencil ready to select the right checkboxthe data being generated is reliable and useful.

Norming is the process of calibrating the use of a single set of scoring criteria among multiple scorers. If norming is successful, a particular piece of work should receive the same score regardless of who is scoring it. With the advent of the Common...


VOTE NOW for Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize Finalists

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 6:10pm

VOTEThere are only three days left to cast your vote for one of the eleven semi-finalists for the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation.

Click here to see the list of semi-finalists and participate in the voting via Facebook. Voting is open from June 10th to June 17th. The top five schools will move on to the final round. We encourage you and your school community to support your candidate by casting your votes online!

The first recipient of the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize will be announced at the Teaching Matters Annual Principals' Forum on July 11th, 2011.

About the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation

The first annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation, a $15,000 award, will go to a New York metropolitan area public school principal whose leadership results in an academically rigorous and technologically innovative learning environment. The award can be applied to any of the following:

  • Equipment...

Teaching Matters Announces Eleven Semi-Finalists for First Annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Friday, June 10, 2011 - 9:33am

NEW YORK, June 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Teaching Matters announces eleven semi-finalists for the first annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation -- $15,000 awarded to a school principal to support, sustain or further an innovative or burgeoning school program or practice that has the potential to be replicated by other schools. The eleven semi-finalist schools were chosen from a field of over 100 nominations. The general public will have an opportunity to vote for five finalists from June 10th to June 17, 2011 on the Teaching Matters website. The top five schools will move on to a final round of judging. The recipient of the Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize will be announced on July 11, 2011 at the annual Teaching Matters Principals' Forum.  Funding is made available by contributors to the Elizabeth Rohatyn Innovation Fund.

The semi-finalists were chosen by an esteemed selection committee including Marilyn Reznick, Executive Director, Educational Leadership, AT&T Public Affairs;  Lisa Belzberg, Founder and Executive Chairperson of PENCIL; Bill Tally, Senior Researcher and Designer...


Measure What You Treasure: Soccer Goals, Factory Lighting, and Monitoring Plans

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - 3:35pm

by Dr. William L. Heller, Using Data Program Director

Cross-posted on the TERC Using Data blog

There is an important lesson to be learned from a soccer game played between Barbados and Grenada at the 1994 Shell Caribbean Cup. In this tournament, tied games would go to sudden death overtime, and any subsequent goal scored would be a “Golden Goal” worth two points. Barbados needed to win by two to progress to the next round, and in fact they were ahead 2-0, when Grenada scored.

soccer ball on the goal line of the fieldWith just minutes left in the game, a quick-thinking Barbadian player scored on his own goal, tying the game in order to invoke sudden death and buy some time for his team. Grenada’s players then tried to score on their own goal, hoping to lose by one, but Barbados was able to successfully defend Grenada’s goal. The game went into overtime, and Barbados won 4-2.

You would think that it...


Citifari Supports Teaching Matters

By: Lynette Guastaferro Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011 - 11:47am

For a limited time only, citifari will offer a free landmark photo tour to the first 50 individuals that make a donation to Teaching Matters. Don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to photograph some of New York’s most unique landmarks.  Together with a small group of no more than 10 people, a citifari guide will lead you through a 2-1/2 hour walking tour through several of the city’s most scenic destinations.

To learn more about this exciting offer and sign up for your free tour go to: http://citifari.eventbrite.com/?discount=TEACHINGMATTERS.

To make a donation to Teaching Matters go to: https://www.nycharities.org/app/teachingmatters/Default.asp.  Suggested donation $50.00. You must present a printed copy of your donation receipt at the start of the tour.  

Pictures