Category: Uncategorized

The Promise of Next Generation Learning Models for English Language Learners

March 14, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 8, 2018.  It is the fourth blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. Read the first post here.

Next generation learning models hold promise for transforming education for every student by providing a personalized, student-centered approach to learning. It’s worth comparing how the current system is falling short of preparing English language learner (ELL) students for success in several key areas and how next generation models may better serve the needs of all students and solve critical flaws in the education system and improve learning outcomes for all. (more…)

Promising Practices for Teaching English Language Learners

March 8, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on January 2, 2018.  It is the third blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. Read the first post here.

Ensuring success for English language learner (ELL) students requires challenging commonly held assumptions of teaching and learning for this student population. Educators and education programs must move away from making English language proficiency an end to itself and focus on supporting success for the whole child. Instruction should be focused on how ELL students learn best and personalized to meet each learner where they are.

This blog explores promising practices in teaching for ELL students, and how student-centered learning can provide the environment and instruction to best support each student.

Research on how ELL students learn best generally covers three main categories: instructional strategies, learning supports and assessments. When aligned, best practices in these three categories can support ELL students in overcoming variances in proficiency in their prior language and content knowledge. (more…)

Differentiation to Mass Customization: Same Goal, Different Eras

March 4, 2018 by

If there is one example that best exemplifies the paradigm shift from industrial to information eras, it is the example used by Todd Rose in The End of Average (Rose, 2016). In this book, he outlines the shortcomings of the concept of average. He talks about how the US Air Force had to make a major mental shift in how they thought about designing jet cockpits. Jet cockpits were initially designed to fit the average sized pilot. Sadly, through a series of events, they found that none of 4,000 pilots shared all ten physical body traits of their “average” pilot. In fact, only a small percentage had three measurements in common with their model of average. The Air Force was designing cockpits for non-existent pilots. In response, the Air Force now builds cockpits that are adjustable to varying degrees, so that you might say they are designing to the edges rather than the average. Pilots of great size variation can now fly jets. (more…)

Moving from Current Models of Teaching English Language Learners to New Learning Models Designed to Meet the Needs of All Students

March 3, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on December 18, 2017.  It is the second blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. Read the first post here.

The previous blog explored the necessity of moving schools from one-size-fits-all structures to new learning models that can better serve ELL students. This blog will examine how current models of teaching and learning are leaving many ELL students behind.

First, we will unpack the designation of “English Language Learner” and the types of educational services these learners receive.

Who Are English Language Learners?


Next Generation Learning Models for English Language Learners

February 16, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on December 11, 2017. It is the first blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning

iNACOL’s recent report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning, provides an in-depth analysis of how new models in learning can be leveraged in service of English language learner (ELL) students. The report explores the early stages of innovation in new school models serving ELL students and provides recommendations and lessons learned to build knowledge in the field of K-12 education. A key purpose of the research for the paper is to examine new pathways that offer students multiple opportunities to prepare them for future success and explore ways that educators are personalizing learning using advanced technologies to support and serve ELL students’ unique needs. (more…)

It’s Time to Submit Proposals to the CBE Strand at iNACOL


iNACOL is now accepting Requests for Presentation Proposals to present at the iNACOL Symposium, held at the Nashville Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee on October 21-24, 2018. This year’s theme is: Driving the Transformation of LearningiNACOL’s annual conference is the premier learning conference for those driving the transformation of education systems and accelerating the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all. Experts, practitioners, educators, policymakers, researchers, and innovators gather and work to transform education.

To access the RFP and submit your proposal to present, please click hereThe deadline for submitting presentation proposals is Friday, March 16, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can download the RFP questions in advance by clicking this link. The iNACOL Program Committee will notify applicants of proposal status no later than Tuesday, May 8, 2018. (more…)

Educating for Global Competence: 6 Reasons, 7 Competencies, 8 Strategies, 9 Innovations

December 29, 2017 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on September 5, 2017.

Everything is global–trade and economics, media and information. Young people are more likely than ever to interact with people from different cultures while at home and on the road. As we become more connected, more interdependent, how do we prepare young people for the world they will inherit? We see six reasons, seven competencies, eight strategies and nine innovations.

6 Reasons Global Competence Matters

The Asia Society Center for Global Education notes five reasons why global competence matters and we should be engaging young people now in learning experiences that focus on developing these skills, attitudes and dispositions. We added an additional benefit.

1. Global competence is the toolkit that a productive, involved citizenry uses to meet the problems and opportunities of the world. In the curriculum, global competence challenges students to investigate the world, consider a variety of perspectives, communicate ideas and take meaningful action. A globally focused curriculum engages students in their own learning and motivates them to strive for knowledge and understanding. And a curious, inspired student strives to learn more in school and beyond.

2. A new generation of students requires different skills from the generations that came before. The world is changing fast. Boundaries—literal as well as figurative— are shifting and even disappearing altogether. The culture that once lived halfway around the world now lives just down the block. The ability to thrive in this new and rapidly changing environment is grounded in a globally focused curriculum.

3. More than ever before, individual actions reach around the globe. Environmental concerns, economic shifts, global poverty, population growth, human rights and political conflict can seem intractable and overwhelming, yet they absolutely require thoughtful action. In a globally focused curriculum, students learn that the world needs them to act, and that they can make a difference.

4. Global competence integrates knowledge of the world and the skill of application with the disposition to think and behave productively. Global competence is not restricted to knowing about other cultures and other perspectives. In addition to knowledge of the world, a globally competent citizen exhibits habits like critical thinking, rational optimism, innovation, empathy and awareness of the influences of culture on individual behavior and world events.

5. Success in career and life will depend on global competence, because career and life will play out on the global stage. Already, government, business and cultural institutions are called to solve the world’s problems cooperatively. Engaging in these challenges requires high-order knowledge and thinking skill, as well as shared language and cultural understanding. In a globally focused curriculum, students prepare to approach problems from multiple perspectives and to thrive in a global future.

6. Working with and building relationships with people who have different backgrounds adds meaning, depth and joy to your life. Varied perspectives and worldviews enhance our own understandings and constructs (both mental and social).

In Education for Global Competence: Preparing our Youth to Engage the World, Asia Society expounds upon these reasons for preparing for global competence and details exactly what they feel the four skills of globally competent students are: (more…)

Personalized PD and Collaborative Teams: A Symbiotic Approach to Professional Learning, Part 2

December 1, 2017 by

This post originally appeared at the Center for Collaborative Education on September 7, 2017. In Part 1 of this series, Lebeaux shared some analysis of the ways in which Personalized Professional Development and Collaborative Teams mutually benefit one another and support a school’s process of sustainable, positive transformation.  In Part 2, below, she provides some guidance on potential approaches to bringing both of these into practice.

Bringing about transformative teacher practice is challenging in any circumstance; in a low-performing school falling under local and state scrutiny, it’s particularly dire. And yet schools fraught with high pressure for students to “perform” well and for data to demonstrate their turnaround most particularly require the kind of motivated, self-improving, and engaged staff that these tandem PD structures would provide. As a result, we require a strategic and intentional approach to implementing these two practices, each of which is revolutionary in their own right, to make them feasible and accessible to the schools that need them the most.

Although the two structures mutually reinforce each other, they need not be introduced simultaneously. The two columns of tips in the infographic seen here are not chronological steps in a process so much as attributes important to the success of each. As a result, we can explore the earliest steps of each approach individually below.

Click here to view the full image.

Getting Started with Personalized Professional Development


Shifting Paradigms: Moving from an Instructional Paradigm to a Learning Paradigm

November 28, 2017 by

This post originally appeared at the Institute for Personalized Learning on June 22, 2017.

The instructional paradigm, still in place in most schools, was primarily designed to support the function of teaching, or more specifically, the delivery of information from instructor to student. For practical reasons the design favored efficiency, which led to batch processing of students, segmentation of content areas, and credits based on seat time.

More than a century of experience with instruction-driven design has proven that teaching does not always equal learning. Yet challenges to increase achievement have typically been met with more efforts to simply improve components of the instructional paradigm, rather than questioning its fundamental design. Efforts to improve achievement have also produced an ever-increasing array of accountability expectations for teachers and schools. Mandates put in place to produce “better” instructors and higher test scores have created a host of instructional interventions at the expense of authentic learning experiences.

Increasingly, the education community is recognizing that to get the achievement results we desire, and more importantly, to prepare our learners for an uncertain future, the focus must shift from an instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm. This shift in focus has launched an urgent search for approaches that will be successful under the new paradigm. Personalized learning is an ideal fit to accomplish this shift. Personalized models focus on active, participatory learning where learners are empowered to take control of their own educational pathway. The very nature of personalized learning means it will look different at each site, depending on the context. Educators may select different elements of personalized learning to focus on, but all of them share one thing – they start with the learner.

This paradigm shift, from instruction to learning, will require educators to question what they assume about learning and education, and then to redesign the education system to align with today’s vision of learning. The infographic below highlights some key attributes of each paradigm and can help educators as they work to shift from an instructional focus to one that is centered around the learner.

See also:

Personalized PD and Collaborative Teams: A Symbiotic Approach to Professional Learning, Part 1

October 19, 2017 by

Diana Lebeaux, Senior Associate, Personalized Learning Network

This post originally appeared at the Center for Collaborative Education on September 5, 2017.

Those of us who consider ourselves progressive and who regularly coach schools tend to focus our support on either collaboration or personalization. Schools that worry about the isolation of the traditional teacher, and teachers who yearn to share ideas, tend to focus on establishing Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), also known as Critical Friends Groups (CFGs). These groups become the mechanism of choice for propagating best practices, distributing leadership, and building collective buy-in for school reform or redesign initiatives. On the other hand, schools that fear teacher disengagement or who weary of professional development that never gains traction with teachers to foster improved student results tend to experiment with the newer approach, personalized professional development. This offshoot of personalized learning provides a structured way for teachers to share—or own—decision-making about the professional development with which they will engage, granted that it aligns with the school’s overall goals and the district’s other logistical parameters.

Both practices have promise individually, and because both represent a significant shift away from typical “sit and get” district- or school-wide professional development (PD), school leaders tend to invest their reform efforts around one or the other. After all, both approaches are ambitious and require capacity building, effective systems, and buy-in, which require time and effort. Both can result in improved teacher empowerment and even save districts money. However, unless these reforms are strategically bundled in tandem, I would argue that neither can meet its full potential to open up, and dramatically improve, classroom practice.

I have seen schools that institute PLCs begin to encounter a dreaded implementation gap when teachers mistrust (sometimes with good reason) the intention of the initiative, viewing the PLCs as a top-down, forced experience, or an attempt to further standardize practice to the detriment of teachers’ individual agency. At times, there are situations in which the PLCs are an overt means of prescribing professional development, in which principals mask top-down mandates under the guise of collaborative teamwork: arguably, these instances are poor or inauthentic implementation of PLCs. However, there are also many instances in which PLCs themselves are created with the authentic intention to build a safe community in which teachers can de-privatize practice, but the PLCs do not meet their potential to be revolutionary because they occur in isolation, providing a single outlet for teacher voice in a school that otherwise silences it.

Similarly, otherwise traditionally-structured schools that make a foray into the realm of personalized professional learning find a number of logistical hurdles that can hamper implementation. While personalized professional development plans and teacher micro-credentials, two means of personalizing PD, can provide incentives and structures that will inspire and guide teachers to learn, neither is a panacea. When poorly instituted—or done in isolation—these innovations can overly rely on educators’ knowledge of their own skills and their inevitably limited awareness of the opportunities for PD available to them. Schools may include data analysis, self-assessments and selected catalogues to mitigate some of these problems—or principals may build learning plans in tandem with their staff—but these can still result in ad hoc, sporadic instances of professional learning that may not align with the school’s overall goals or plans.  (more…)

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