We are proud to announce LearnZillion’s 2014 Dream Team

Over 4,000 people applied for the 200 spots available on the 2014 Dream Team, making it harder to get onto the Dream Team than get into any Ivy League school! Selected for their content knowledge, grit and humility, these impressive math and English Language Arts (ELA) teachers represent the best of district, charter and independent schools in 42 states and three countries (U.S., Singapore and Tunisia). Together, the 2014 Dream Team has more than 2,300 years of teaching experience, ranging from two to 42 years in the classroom.

The Dream Team will convene in New Orleans for TeachFest, a unique professional development event from June 4-7, where they will kick-off a rigorous summer-long collaboration to create high-quality formative assessment tools and resources that will support teachers implementing the Common Core across the United States. Following TeachFest, Dream Team members will return to their respective districts and continue to work in facilitated online professional learning communities (PLCs).

As the 77 returning Dream Team members will attest, being on the Dream Team is “the best professional development of my career.” However, being on the Dream Team is about more than world-class PD and creating great content — it’s about being a member of a vibrant and enthusiastic community of educators who are eager to help others and hopeful about the future.

 

2014 Dream Team Members

Dream Team Member State School District / Charter
Heidi King AK Little Rock School District
Victoria Whitfield AL Autauga County School System
Amy Ordonez AZ Kyrene School Distrcit
Ben Metcalf AZ Washington Elementary School District
Cheryl Martin AZ Dysart Unified School District
Deanna Jergenson AZ Deer Valley Unified School District
Jessica Finley AZ Wilson School District No. 7
Jill Patruno AZ Paradise Valley Unified School District #69
Cheryl Shay CA Berryessa Union School District
Debbie Neighbors CA Berryessa Union School District
Debi Bober CA Long Beach Unified School District
Helen A. Papadopoulos CA Walnut Valley Unified School District
Jaime Bonato CA San Juan Unified School District
Kim Bobadilla CA Davis Joint Unified School District
Kristen Miller CA Natomas Unified School District
Laureen-Nadirah Nayo CA Pasadena Unified School District
Lisa Stone CA Santa Clara County Office of Education
Marcello Sgambelluri CA Santa Clara Unified School District
Miriam Hannig CA Union Elementary School District
Nikole Gaines Reina-Guerra CA Davis Joint Unified School District
Rebecca Scarfone CA Temecula Valley Unified School District
Ryan Keeley CA Berkeley Unified School District
George Christopher Moore (Chris) CO Littleton Public Schools
Katherine Christie CO Littleton Public Schools
Kristi Steele CO Littleton Public Schools
Ruth A. Melendez CO Academy District Twenty
Wendy Turner CO Denver Public Schools
Colleen Haberern CT Watertown Public Schools
Jacqueline Kremer CT Ledyard, CT (JWL) & IDCS is its own district
Jameson Parker CT Danbury Public Schools
Lorrie Quirk CT New Haven Public Schools
Rachel Saunders CT Danbury Public Schools
Tiffany Dietelbaum CT Naugatuck Public School District
Tracy Yanouzas CT Monroe Public Schools
Becky Nolin DC E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
Jacqueline Christy DC Washington, DC
John F. Mahoney DC District of Columbia Public Schools
Lauren Jarrell DC District of Columbia Public Schools
Lisa Apple DC E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
Marija Crosson DC District of Columbia Public Schools
Michael Gueltig DC District of Columbia Public Schools
Valerie Krauser DC DC Prep
Caitlin Salmon DE Reach Academy for Girls Charter School
Christina Hanna DE Christina School District
Erica Matlock DE Worcester County Public Schools
Karen Warner DE Cape Henlopen School District
Kate Bowski DE Cape Henlopen School District
Kate Libby DE Woodbridge Elementary School
Margaret Brady DE Red Clay School District
Michelle Morton DE Red Clay Consolidated School District
Shani Benson DE Capital School District
Shannon Lapinsky DE Caesar Rodney School District
Jeremy Thompson FL Sarasota County Public Schools
Olga Westergaard FL Hillsborough County Public Schools
Ahmed Najm GA St. Martin’s Episcopal School
Amy Stanley GA Whitfield County Schools
Brenda Reagan GA Retired
Cathleen A Dees GA Clayton County Public Schools
Christine S Collins GA Edinburg Academy
EJ Sharif GA Richmond County Public Schools
Katherine Learnard GA DeKalb County
Lexie April Mobley GA Fayette County Board of Education Fayetteville, GA
Linda S. Smith GA Atlanta Public Schools
Linda Trawick GA Cobb County School District
Lisa Ashmeade GA Cobb County Schools
Lorenzo Dale Robinson GA Fulton County Schools
Mariaum Brunner GA Lumpkin County Public Schools
Melissa Huneycutt GA Gwinnett County Public Schools
Meredith Fletcher GA Houston County Schools
Michelle Blackwell GA Odyssey
Robin Valentine GA Gwinnett County Public Schools
Heather Dawn Harmon ID SD #271 Coeur d’Alene School District
Stacie Knight ID Meridian Joint School District #2
Alison Childers IL Carmi-White County CUSD 5
Andrew Parece IL Chicago Public Schools
Gabrielle Testerman IL Oak Park River Forest High School District/District 200
Jenni Iwanski IL Saint Charles Community Unit School District 303
Jennifer Rising IL Science & Arts Academy, Des Plains
Jessica Pilgreen IL Wesclin Community Unit District #3
Kathy Ogean IL Oak Lawn Hometown School District 123
Kim Stancl IL Illinois School District U-46
Kyle Harlow IL Herrin Community Unit School District No. 4
Terry Vaughn Jr. IL Germantown Hills School District 69
Bradley Mitchell IN Archdiocese of Indianapolis
Cory Howard IN Maconaquah School Corporation
Kristi Harris IN Wawasee Community Schools
Natalie Hines IN Indianapolis Public Schools
Ronald Shaffer IN Maconaquah School Corporation
Sarah Smith IN Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation
Holly Milam-Bush KY Warren County Public Schools
Kelly Boles KY Floyd County Schools
Kimberly Johnson KY Jefferson County Public Schools
Leslie Lloyd KY Bullitt County Public Schools
Katy Patterson LA Orleans Parish School Board
Laci Maniscalco LA Lafayette Parish School System
Stephanie Renoda Gullage LA St. Charles Parish Public Schools
Andrew Vickstrom MA Wachusett Regional School District
Barbara Delaney MA Bellingham Public Schools
Dorrian Galvin MA Oakland Unified School District
Jil Blake MA Hartford
Alison Giska MD Worcester County Public Schools
Analin Adriano MD Mary Mcleod Bethune Day Public Charter School
Ashleigh Swiontek MD National Board Certified//Graduate School
Jennifer Reynolds MD Frederick County Public Schools
Julia Hill MD Worcester County Public Schools
Meghan Hearn MD Howard County Public Schools
Nick Pyzik MD Frederick County Public Schools
Rafael Velez MD District of Columbia Public Schools
Shanna Williams-Carr MD District of Columbia Public Schools
Rebecca Schouvieller ME Falmouth Public Schools
Anita Vecziedins MI Grand Rapids Public Schools
Abby Kahara MN Barnum Publich Schools
Carol DeFreese MO Ft. Zumwalt School District
Carolyn Sue Nixon MO Willard R-II School District
Amanda Gosek NC Johnston County Schools
Amy Barsanti NC Washington County Public Schools
Amy Phillips NC Chatham County Schools
Anna Gustaveson NC Orange County Public Schools
Carol Sholette-Gillespie NC Cumberland County Schools
Dana Marie Stachowiak NC Guilford County Schools
Daylen Moore NC Onslow County Schools
Kimberly Shelor NC New Hanover County School
Michelle Barnhill NC North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
Rachel Sanchez NC Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
William Jarrett NC Guilford County
Lisa Vojacek ND Grand Forks Public Schools
Shana Lindeman ND Grand Forks Public Schools
Elisabeth Chestnutt NH Amherst School District
Steve Lebel NH Derry Cooperative School District
Tim Putnam NH SAU 41 – Brookline Public Schools
Dianne Leoni NJ Hillsborough Township Public Schools
Elizabeth Stupar NJ Point Pleasant Borough School District
Mary Jane Custy NJ Flemington Raritan Schools
Rebecca Alvarado-Alcantar NM Las Cruces Public Schools
Chris Hayes NV Washoe County School District
Jodi Westmont NV Washoe County School District
Richard Villanueva NV Clark County School District
Alice Lombardo NY Rochester City School District
Caitlyn Calabrese NY New Visions for Public Schools
Daniel Steinberg NY Harlem Link Charter School
Dennis Pawlikowski NY Oswego City School District
Jacqueline Wagner NY District 15
Jeanette Simpson NY Penn Yan Central School
Jesse Goodglass NY Syracuse City School District
Juaneika Agyeman NY Lansingburgh Central School District
Julie Bocciolatt NY LaFargeville Central School
Lauren McIntyre NY Great Neck Public School District
Leslie Hefez NY New York City Public Schools District 15
Luciano D’Orazio NY New York City Department of Education
Mark Anderson NY Bronx District 10
Sarah Merchlewitz NY Manhattan District 3, Childrens First Network 408
Sarah Peterson NY New York City Public Schools
Staci Intriligator NY Various
Tammy Plucknette NY Elba Central School District
Wendy Sachel NY Phoenix Central School District
Samantha Fales OH Nordonia Hills City School District
Sarah Cummings OH Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools
Sierra Cooley OH Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow
Susan Nolan OH Coshocton City Schools
Michelle Collum OK Tulsa Public Schools
Stephanie Eggen OK Oklahoma City Public Schools
Elizabeth Tautalamoto Ellis OR Portland Public School District
Erin Maass OR North Clackamas School District #12
Jaimee Massie OR Eugene District 4J
Lisa Nichols OR Salem Keizer School District
Elizabeth Kim PA School District of Philadelphia
Ellen Hartman PA Commonwealth Connections Academy
Emily Edmonds PA Charter School Network
Leah R Weimerskirch PA New York City Department of Education
Megan Maples PA KIPP: Philadelphia Schools
Michael Cote PA Commonwealth Connections Academy
Rebecca Ritenour PA Uniontown Area
Stephanie Clarke PA Commonwealth Connections Academy
Sue Choi PA Spring-Ford Area School District
Stephen Skaggs RI North Kingstown School Department
Ashley Gombar SC Dorchester District 2
Daniel Stewart Beasley SC York District 3
Elizabeth Beerbower SC Dorchester District 2 Schools
Melissa Huffman SC Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5
Michelle Greene SC Darlington County School District
Kimberly Clark SD Multiple Districts in SD
Terri McComb Singapore Singapore American School
Christina Foran TN Tennessee State Special Schools
Tifin Calcagni Tunisia American Cooperative School of Tunis
Jennifer Yu TX Richardson Independent School District
Leslie Hirsh Ceballos TX Richardson Independent School District
Jennifer Shirts UT Jordan School District
Lauren Burton UT Alpine School District
Melissa Hesterman UT Mountain Heights Academy
Christine Gault VA Prince William County Schools
Jennifer Newman VA Friendship Public Charter Schools
Lindsay M. Stuart VA Alexandria City Public Schools
Sara Elizabeth Equi VA Roanoke City Public Schools
Michael Signal WA Auburn School District #408
Sarah Spring WA Auburn School District
Aaron Beiniek WI Whitnall School District
Dr. Michele Schmidt Moore WV Loudoun County Public Schools
Kayleigh Gillespie WV Putnam County Schools
Stephanie L. Runion WV Harrison County Schools
Virginia Guynn WV Berkeley County Public Schools

The Power of Delaware TeachFest

We are honored to be working with the State of Delaware to recruit and develop a Delaware Dream Team to create high-quality Common Core formative assessment items that will be shared with teachers throughout the state.

The video below gives you a quick view into the spirit and impact of working with teachers in this rigorous, collaborative way — a spirit that is shared by our own national Dream Team.

It is truly an honor to help develop the teachers that, in turn, make a difference for students every day.

STATE NAMES 97 TALENTED TEACHERS TO ‘CONNECTICUT DREAM TEAM’

We’re delighted to share that the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) has announced that 97 teachers from 86 schools across Connecticut will take part in TeachFest Connecticut, an intensive professional learning session on the Common Core State Standards, where they will develop high-quality resources to be shared with fellow teachers. The ‘Connecticut Dream Team’ will continue working with their peers in the weeks following TeachFest and later serve as teacher leaders at a larger event for Connecticut educators this summer. Participants teach a wide spectrum of different grade levels, with 60 specializing in English language arts and 37 in mathematics.

State names 97 teachers to the CT Dream Team

Commissioner Stefan Pryor announces members of the 2014 Connecticut Dream Team

“TeachFest will provide teachers with the opportunity to collaborate and innovate as they develop high-quality Common Core resources to be shared with their colleagues. Participants will also serve as teacher leaders in future Common Core-related events and activities. We thank and congratulate the teachers who have volunteered and been selected for the Connecticut Dream Team,” State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said. “This is a new and exciting element of our growing array of Common Core supports for teachers and school leaders. We are grateful to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for providing the resources that enable us to provide these critical supports for educators.”  

TeachFest Connecticut represents one of the professional development opportunities supported by the State Department of Education regarding the implementation of the Common Core State Standards.The Connecticut Dream Team will first convene in Hartford from April 25-27 for TeachFest Connecticut, a celebration of teaching and an intensive, structured working session facilitated by LearnZillion. A provider of digital curriculum and professional development for the Common Core, LearnZillion developed this innovative model for their national Dream Team.

“Connecticut teachers’ response to this opportunity has been wonderful,” said Eric Westendorf, CEO of LearnZillion. “We’re excited to support the SDE’s commitment to teachers by sharing our high-energy, rigorous and practical approach to developing exceptional instructional practice with the Connecticut Dream Team.”

Following TeachFest, the Connecticut Dream Team members will return to their 86 elementary, middle and high schools to continue working with peers and content coaches in facilitated online professional learning communities (PLCs). During this process, the Dream Team members will translate their proven teaching methods and classroom expertise into high-quality Common Core resources for use by teachers in Connecticut and will be available on CTCoreStandards.org. These resources will also be made available to teachers across the country, through a free Common Core resource library.

“We applaud all of the teachers who stepped up and volunteered to serve in this important role. Their firsthand classroom experience will be invaluable in helping their colleagues effectively implement Common Core — an effort that has been a significant challenge for so many of our state’s schools,” AFT Connecticut President Melodie Peters said. “Classroom educators were among the first to speak out and urge that their voices be heard in making new teaching standards work when they were adopted four years ago. This effort reflects a major step forward for implementing the core set of standards because it empowers teachers to train teachers.”

The Connecticut Dream Team will later serve as teacher leaders for a “Common Core Fest” to be held for hundreds of teachers across the state on July 29, 2014.   In addition to the LearnZillion experience, the State Department of Education is already sponsoring a series of professional development opportunities for educators across Connecticut. Since the beginning of the school year, school and district leaders have taken part in “communities of practice”— gatherings which focus on implementing the new standards and sharing best practices already in place.

Also, the SDE has convened over 1,500 teachers from 163 districts as Common Core Coaches to develop expertise in the new standards through a series of trainings and webinars. Common Core training opportunities are also being designed for 600 new teachers, student teachers and their mentors, as well as the faculty of teacher-preparation programs.   The K-12 educators selected for the Connecticut Dream Team were chosen through a competitive statewide application on the basis of their content knowledge, grit, and understanding of the Common Core State Standards. Each educator demonstrated the commitment and ability to “scale their impact” beyond their classroom.

 Teachers named to the 2014 Connecticut Dream Team

 Name School District
Aaron Ribchinsky Mary Morrison Elementary and Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School Groton Public Schools
Alicia Loesche East Haven High School East Haven School District
Alicia Wetherbee Edna C. Stevens Elementary School Cromwell School District
Amanda Ashley Peterson Danbury High School Danbury School District
Amanda Johnson Danbury High School Danbury School District
Amy DiNoia Chippens Hill Middle School Bristol School District
Amy Inzero Elizabeth Green Newington School District
Andrew D. Deacon Colebrook Consolidated School Colebrook School District
Andrew Hill Brookfield High School Brookfield School District
Andrew Hutchinson Meriden Elementary Schools Meriden School District
Anna Capobianco Hall High School West Hartford School District
Barbara McLean Hubbell Elementary School Bristol School District
Barbette Warren CREC Public Safety Academy Enfield School District
Briana Visone Bloomfield High School Bloomfield School District
Catherine Freeman Sage Park Middle School Windsor School District
Cheryl R. Kerison Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School New Haven School District
Christine Turcotte-White Henry Barnard Elementary School Enfield School District
Christopher Affie Ansonia High School Ansonia School District
Clinton McLeod Anna H. Rockwell School Bethel School District
Colm Duffin New Britain High School New Britain School District
Corey Nagle Chippens Hill Middle School Bristol School District
Courtney Warner Cook Hill Elementary School Wallingford School District
Craig Wisniewski Martin Kellogg Middle School Newington School District
Danielle Durso Crosby High School Waterbury School District
David P Daigneault Robert E Fitch High School Groton Public Schools
Debra Parker New Fairfield Middle School New Fairfield School District
Diana Kloskowski Slade Middle School New Britain School District
Dr. Brian Moore Bullard Havens Technical High School Connecticut Technical High School System
Elizabeth Porter Chippens Hill Middle School Bristol School District
Ellen Meyer Broadview Middle School Danbury School District
Erin Birden Washington Primary School Regional School District 12
Eugenie George Achievement First Bridgeport Elementary Achievement First Bridgeport
Fallon Wagner Meriden Elementary Schools Meriden School District
Heather DeLaurentis Polson Middle School Madison School District
Hillary Singer Roger’s Park Middle School Danbury School District
Jacqueline Kremer Integrated Day Charter School, Norwich; Juliet W. Long, Ledyard Integrated Day Charter School
Jane Giresi Miller-Driscoll School Wilton School District
Jane Martellino Warren School, James Morris School, and Goshen Center School Regional School District 06
Jane S Potts Mary Morrisson Elementary Groton Public Schools
Jennifer DeRagon Coventry High School Coventry Public School District
Jennifer Lizee-Hammer Pleasant Valley South Windsor School District
Jennifer McDougall Captain Nathan Hale Middle School Coventry Public School District
Jennifer Murrihy Frank T. Wheeler Elementary Plainville School District
Jessica Szafran A Ward Spaulding Elementary School Suffield School District
Josh Egan Washington Middle School Meriden School District
Kara levenduski Robert J. O’Brien STEM Elementary School East Hartford School District
Karen Ciarleglio Montowese Elementary North Haven School District
Kari Baransky Roger Sherman Elementary Meriden School District
Katherine Brodaski New London High School New London Public Schools
Katherine Jesmonth William J. Johnston Middle School Colchester Public Schools
Kelly Bouchard Ellen P. Hubbell School Bristol School District
Kelly Palaia International Magnet School for Global Citizenship Capital Region Education Council
Kevin Stevenson The Friendship School Waterford Public Schools
Kristen Grabowski Tolland Intermediate School Tolland School District
Kristin LaLima Griswold Middle School Griswold Public Schools
Laurie LaBossiere Griswold Middle School Griswold Public Schools
Laury LaMarche C.B. Jennings New London Public Schools
Lisa Handfield Andover Elementary School Andover School District
Marika Heughins Pawcatuck Middle School Stonington Public Schools
Mariliz Fitzpatrick Chippens Hill Middle School Bristol School District
Mary Kay Rendock Carmen Arace Intermediate School Bloomfield School District
Mary Lou Woods Meriden Elementary Schools Meriden School District
Mary Strout Griswold Elementary School Griswold Public Schools
MaryJean Giannetti Meriden Elementary Schools Meriden School District
Matthew Taber Coginchaug Regional HS Regional School District 13
Melissa Potamianos Orchard Hill South Windsor School District
Michelle Bartlett Sunnyside School Shelton School District
Michelle Combs Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School New London Public Schools
Monica Lloyd Toquam Magnet Elementary School Stamford School District
Nadine Keane Griswold High School Griswold Public Schools
Natasha Domina North Haven Middle School North Haven School District
Paul Jeffrey Laedke New Fairfield Middle School New Fairfield School District
Randy Ewart Windsor High School Windsor School District
Rita Gregory Booth Free School Regional School District 12
Robin Greenwald Leonard J. Tyl Middle School Montville Public Schools
Robin Moore James Morris School Regional School District 06
Rosanne Field Batcheller Early Learning Center Winchester School District
Ryan Howard Classical Studies Academy Bridgeport School District
Sarah Forler Hartland School Hartland School District
Sarah Worley Discovery Academy Capital Region Education Council
Shannon VanderMale Essex Elementary School Essex School District
Sharon Campolo Greene-Hills School Bristol School District
Sherri Hall Sarah J. Rawson Hartford School District
Stacey Albertson Dunbar Hill Elementary School Hamden School District
Stephanie McKenna Wethersfield High School Wethersfield School District
Steven Gionfriddo John C. Mead School Ansonia School District
Steven St. Onge Cromwell Middle School Cromwell School District
Susan Coyle Bullard Havens Technical High School Connecticut Technical High School System
Tawana Graham-Douglas Plainville Elementary Schools Plainville School District
Tiffany Deitelbaum City Hill Middle School Naugatuck School District
Tim Shortt Worthington Hooker School New Haven School District
Tina Eisenbeis Pawcatuck Middle School Stonington Public Schools
Tina Manus Platt Tech High School & Bridgeport Adult Education Connecticut Technical High School System
Tomasa Raver Center School Ellington School District
Vannessa Jane Riggio Chester Elementary School Regional School District 04
Victoria Fox Captain Nathan Hale Middle School Coventry Public School District
William McKinney Wilbur Cross High School New Haven School District

Ways to help parents understand the Common Core

Many parents are eager to take a proactive and productive role in student learning.

To help you out, we hosted a conversation between Eric Westendorf, CEO and co-founder of LearnZillion and Greg Mullenholz, former teacher, coach, 2013 Dream Team member, and current principal in Montgomery County Public Schools, to discuss some practical actions teachers can take to engage parents. Highlights include 5 tips on how best to share resources and specific ways to support student learning in light of identified gaps or advanced student needs. We’ve summarized some of their main points in the blog post below.

VIDEO

How can LearnZillion help Parents?

  1. Help them understand the standards
  2. Help with homework
  3. Support struggling students
  4. Accelerate bored students

For more, check out this blog post: Parent Resources: 4 Ways to Support Your Child’s Learning with Instructional Videos.

 

What’s the best way to share?

 

1. Email:

Send parents the Common Core content their child needs to master via URL, Quick code, or use the assign feature.

On LearnZillion we’ve made resource-sharing easy. You can simply copy and paste the URL or quick code of a video lesson and email it to parents. You can also directly assign math content or ELA content to students to complete for homework; parents can help their child complete this work at home.

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2. Letter Home:

Tell parents HOW they can use the resources available on LearnZillion.com

Sometimes paper is still the best medium to communicate with parents. Simply download this letter, customize the yellow portion to the standards your students learned that day and voilà, your students’ parents are ready to access the content online.

Click this image to download the parent letter and customize it to your class

Click this image to download the parent letter

 

 

3. Text:

Use a service like Reminder 101 or Edmodo to text parents video lesson quick codes

Quick codes – short six digit number attached to each lesson – allow teachers and parents to easily access lesson content by typing the code into any search bar on LearnZillion.com. Remind 101 allows you to text these codes to parents with the click of a button. We’ve seen parents watch these videos on their phone while waiting to pick up their children at school, or during a quick 5-7 minute break in the middle of the day. It’s a great method to bring parents closer to their children’s education amidst their already busy schedules.

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4. Create a context:

Make it easy for parents to take action.

It’s not enough to just give parents resources. Ease of use matters; the directions you give to parents should be as bite-sized and targeted as possible. Give parents a specific lesson that will best help with homework. Suggest how they can use the video with their child. Creating context can give parents confidence that they are supporting their child in the right ways.

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5. Use as basis for math or ELA night:

Share this information with parents through an in-school educational session.

Consider using LearnZillion content as a basis for a math and ELA night. These nights – organized for parents, students and teachers for topic-specific support – are a great way to demonstrate effective practice of parent involvement. Model what it looks like to find a lesson, talk about a lesson, work on homework using the lesson, and take notes. You can kickstart a habit so that parents and students can feel comfortable using the resources without the teacher present.

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These are some good steps to consider the next time you try to engage parents. Have any other ideas? Leave a comment below. And thanks for forwarding this post along to your friends and colleagues.

LearnZillion ELA Webinar Archive

This page is regularly updated with our webinars focused on implementing the Common Core ELA standards — be sure to create a free account on LearnZillion to receive invitations to future events.

 

Thumbnail.OfficeHoursJoeyHawkins.Webinar.2014Writing Office Hours with Joey Hawkins of the Vermont Writing Collaborative

Recorded 03/13/14 8:00pm EST Get tips on instruction and resources from a nationally acclaimed writing educator and expert. (All grades)

 

 

thumbnail.EQuIPRubricIntro.Webinar.2014

An Introduction to the EQuIP Rubric

Recorded 03/13/14 5:00pm EST Learn how to identify high quality materials aligned to the Common Core (All grades)

 

 

thumbnail.ELAEssentials.Webinar.2014 ELA Essentials: Understanding the structure and transitions of the ELA standards

Recorded 3/4/14, 4:30 PM EST focus your lessons and write meaningful teaching objectives aligned to the ELA standards. (All grades)

 

thumbnail.SkipJoanPrincipalAnxiety.Webinar.2014 How Principals Can Relieve Anxiety Around Common Core Implementation

Recorded 3/5/14 3:00pm EST A discussion with Dr. Skip Fennell and Joan Tellish about how principals can help teachers implement the Common Core. (All grades; Administrators)

 

Thumbnail.Streamlineprofessionaldevelopment.Webinar.2014

Save time, reduce stress. Streamline planning and supercharge your professional growth with LearnZillion.

Recorded 2/30/14 3:30pm EST Learn how to integrate LearnZillion into your lesson planning process. (All grades)

 

thumbnail.OfficeHoursDavidLiben.Webinar.2014Literacy Office Hours with David Liben of Student Achievement Partners pt 2.

Recorded 2/26/14 8:00pm EST Get tips and resources from David Liben, a nationally acclaimed ELA/literacy specialist. (All grades)

 

thumbnail.writingaligningsequencingtextdependentq.Webinar.2014Writing, aligning, and sequencing text dependent questions

Recorded 2/19/14 4:00pm EST Learn proven strategies for crafting text-dependent questions. (All grades)

 

 

thumbnail.TextTalk.Webinar.2013Text Talks: A First Step in Planning for Close Reading

Recorded 1/30/14 4:00pm EST Get tips, ideas and an actionable format for launching successful text talks. (All grades)

 

 

Literacy Office Hours wiScreen Shot 2014-03-27 at 1.37.55 PMth David Liben of Student Achievement Partners pt 1.

Recorded 1/8/14 4:00pm EST Get tips and resources from David Liben,a nationally acclaimed ELA/literacy specialist (All grades)

 

 

Ready for more? Click the button below to view our math webinars:

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LearnZillion Math Webinar Archive

This page is updated with our webinars focused on implementing the Common Core math standards — be sure to create a free account on LearnZillion to receive invitations to future events.

 

Thumbnail.EQuIPMath.Webinar.2014

Using the EQuIP Rubric: Math

Recorded 03/18/14 5:00pm EST Ensure your math resources are Common Core aligned. (All grades)

 

 

thumbnail.EQuIPRubricIntro.Webinar.2014

An Introduction to the EQuIP Rubric

Recorded 03/13/14 5:00pm EST Learn how to identify high quality materials aligned to the Common Core. (All grades)

 

 

thumbnail.SkipJoanPrincipalAnxiety.Webinar.2014

How Principals Can Relieve Anxiety Around Common Core Implementation

Recorded 3/4/14 3:00pm EST Help your teachers implement the Common Core (All grades; Administrators)

 

 

Thumbnail.Practicaltipsforusinglessonplans.Webinar.2014Practical tips for using LearnZillion’s Math Lesson Plans in the classroom

Recorded 2/27/14 6:00pm EST Learn how to use LearnZillion’s Math Lesson Plans in your classroom. (Grades 3-8)

 

 

Thumbnail.Streamlineprofessionaldevelopment.Webinar.2014Save time, reduce stress. Streamline planning and supercharge your professional growth with LearnZillion.

Recorded 2/30/14 3:30pm EST Learn how to integrate LearnZillion into your lesson planning process. (All grades)

 

thumbnail.LessonPlans.Webinar.2014

Learn how LearnZillion Lesson Plans can help you ensure students master the essential math standards

Recorded 2/12/14 5:00pm EST Ensure that your students master the essential math standards. (Grades 3-8)

 

thumbnail.BackmappingSkip.Webinar.2013Back-mapping from PARCC and SBAC items to Formative Assessments

Recorded 1/8/14 2:00pm EST Prepare for Common Core math formative assessments. (All grades)

 

 

Ready for more? Click the button below to view our ELA webinars:

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My First Year Teaching: Discovering the Magic of Watching Great Teachers Work

Boaz Munro, former 3rd grade teacher

Boaz Munro, former 1st grade teacher

My first day teaching on my own came about two weeks into the school year.   I worked at an elementary charter school that devoted the beginning of the year almost entirely to promoting an orderly yet joyful school culture.  My first several days in the classroom, therefore, were spent supporting my more experienced co-teacher as she led activities and games to prepare our kids to be diligent scholars and responsible citizens.

By the end of this initial period, I felt much less nervous than I had on the first day of the year.  I had bonded in small ways with my students, met their parents, and even led some brief activities in front of the class under my co-teacher’s supervision.  I was cautiously confident about being a teacher.

A Confident Start

During those first few weeks, we had assessed each student’s reading level and organized them into leveled guided reading groups named for the planets in the solar system.  I was in charge of Uranus—10 students at a small, crescent-shaped table—until the next assessment six weeks later.  I had planned the next six weeks carefully, organizing my library, downloading resources, and studying research on reading comprehension.

And now the day had come.  I had a hand-drawn visual anchor up on my easel, a fresh container of sharpened pencils, and placed a shiny book in front of each little seat.  I expected the students to file in and sit down respectfully, hands folded, eyes on me.  And that’s exactly what happened.

A Humbling Realization

Just kidding.  That first class quickly fell apart, as would many others.  As anyone who has ever taught knows, and as my colleagues Posie Wood and Alix Guerrier have vividly related in their own stories, the first year of teaching is one of the most humbling experiences a person can have. I spent hours preparing for each day’s class, and was still not moving my students nearly far enough.  My students’ reading levels were not increasing as quickly as those of their schoolmates.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why.  So often, I taught my students skills or standards I had never seen anyone teach before.  All of the lessons I planned started with an “I-do”—a modeling of the skill I was trying to teach—and yet I was not watching enough people model the skills I was trying to learn.

A Hope for Support

The times when I improved the most were the times when I stopped toiling alone for a moment and learned from mentors around me.  Occasionally my coach would cover a class so I could observe my co-teacher explaining a difficult concept, or I would sit with the academic dean and we would plan a lesson together.  Just like my students, I learned best by watching talented people work.  This simple realization improved my teaching significantly.  The well-known “beg, borrow, and steal” mantra described by my colleague Lisa Bernstein in a recent post is apt, but I would add a fourth verb: watch.  Watching great teachers work, by sitting next to them to plan or observing their instruction, was unquestionably the single best thing I did to improve my teaching practice during my time in the classroom.  

But there were obstacles to watching these great teachers as much as I wanted to.  I had my own students to look after, and they had theirs; I could only visit other classrooms occasionally.    

Technology has removed these obstacles.  Watching great teachers work is exactly what LearnZillion enables us to do—every day.  Each LearnZillion video is created by an exceptional teacher from around the country, with support from academic coaches, LearnZillion media experts, and peers. These teachers have watched and worked with the best.   They have struggled with the question how best to teach the same standards millions of teachers are adjusting to, and the results of their work are available for old and new teachers to learn from.

Watching the lessons on LearnZillion is like standing in back of a great teacher’s classroom—you’ll see concepts your kids need to learn a new way.  Most likely, you’ll customize or improve on what you see.  As we grow as teachers, our students benefit.

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My First Year Teaching: A Reading Revelation

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Beyond the serial illnesses and perpetual lack of sleep, my first year teaching was a set-up for the rest of my professional life as an educator.

With an undergraduate degree in economics and an early career in real estate development where I analyzed the merits of new deals, I came to teaching with a practiced analytical lens.

Recognizing the Problem

My first year AH HAH moment. . .

  1. Not every student in my 4th grade class was on grade level in regard to their literacy or numeracy.
  2. The curriculum and materials did not in any way account for this reality.

This was 15 years ago.  Instruction was primarily delivered via whole class instruction and student activities.  I quickly realized my students that read below grade level struggled in all academic disciplines.  I marinated uncomfortably in this ‘knowing’ for a while-frustrated by the disconnect between the curriculum/my instruction and my students’ needs. Some of my students were soaring, learning every day, while others just slogged through the day learning little.  I was missing the mark.  It drove me nuts.

Understanding the Problem

The essential question that drove my insanity was how do I get all my students to love learning like those who are already successful in my classroom?  How can I shape my teaching and the curriculum, so ALL my students engage enthusiastically to learn?  What is my responsibility in this dynamic?  Some teachers told me to chill out-that it was not my responsibility to worry about those that don’t learn what is taught well.  That perspective did not work for me.

Addressing the Problem

The first realization was I needed to break from my current approach. It just wasn’t working.  So, after relentless research through reading and discussion with respected veteran colleagues, I took a risk.  I decided a love of reading might address many of my worries for my students.  Towards that end, I begged, borrowed and stole (like any effective teacher) any trade books across a continuum of reading levels for my classroom.  Research by Dr. Richard Allington indicated that the volume of reading was the best pathway to growing reading achievement, so applying the human axiom that we prefer to do what we are successful at, I started an independent reading program in my classroom by putting three components in place:

  • An assessment of each reader in my class in order to appropriately match readers with texts, so a high success rate would be ensured.
  • A diverse collection of books that met the distribution of reading levels in my classroom and offered choice to students.
  • A system of accountability on daily reading volume and reading growth over time, especially around comprehension.

It was a mess to start: books everywhere, confused parents and a hesitant administration.  Systems had to be developed to manage the flow of books in and out of our classroom library, to level books for easy identification, to offer feedback on student accountability, for ongoing assessment to move students up the reading level continuum, and to schedule time for students to choose an ample weekly diet of independent reading books.  Pangs of doubt that I was just creating chaos and not supporting my goal for creating a love of reading to drive higher reading achievement ate into my already deficient sleeping time.

Independent reading: classroom library

Independent reading: classroom library

Perceived Success

But one bad day, when everything seemed to go awry and desperate to regain control of my classroom, I declared 10 minutes of silent reading of independent reading booksand thunderbolt, silence descended-not one complaint!  Shocked, I realized my students must like to read their independent reading books-my hypothesis was proving true. If kids can read and understand a text, they will read more! New rule: carry your independent reading book with you everywhere.  Independent reading became a go-to when lines had to be quiet or assemblies were late to start or even when students completed math tests early.  By the end of my first year, I was thinner and harried to the bone, but my students were reading a significantly greater volume of text—and although some of them may not have admitted it publicly, they actually enjoyed reading.

Growing Success with Common Core Standards

A love, or strong like, of reading may not solve all my students’ problems, but it clearly had a positive impact.  Students start to see themselves as readers, general academic confidence grows and academic performance across disciplines nudges upward.  Please, ask any teacher with an established independent reading program about student outcomes.  By 2nd grade, the CCSS Anchor Reading Standard 10 expects students to read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently (in that grade band). The roadmap to meeting this standard is at least in part dependent on a robust independent reading program that holds students and teacher accountable.

To scaffold growth in comprehension, see any LearnZillion lesson set on reading at the appropriate reading level.  These lessons not only reveal the thinking process readers employ to create meaning from any text but also offer an instructional approach to support a teacher’s practice using any fiction or non-fiction text.

What are your thoughts? In the comments below, please share any resources you find helpful for matching readers to texts.

“Shouldn’t you have known?”, or “How I learned to value formative assessment the hard way”

Posie Wood, former 3rd grade teacher

Posie Wood, former 3rd grade teacher

There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of administering a test to a group of eight and nine year olds that you have come to love dearly—and knowing instantly that you let them down.

As a first year teacher, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe my students were smart and capable, I did. But I also knew from the moment that I saw page 1 of the test booklet that I hadn’t done enough to prepare them for questions and tasks like the ones I saw on the test. As I circulated through my classroom on that humid April morning, I entered into a state of despair, panic, and most of all, shame that I had so failed my students.

Later that day, looking for sympathy from my father, I sobbed the whole story into the phone while sitting in the school parking lot.

“Hold on,” he said. “I don’t want to be a jerk, but shouldn’t you have known?”

“Known what?”

“That they were going to struggle on the test. Shouldn’t you have understood better than anyone else where your students were?

With those four words (“Shouldn’t you have known?”) my father (who, by the way, is not an educator) shifted my entire orientation as a teacher. Even though he didn’t know the name for it, my father had turned me on to formative assessment and forced me to see, with cruel clarity, just how powerful a tool it is.

Five lessons from a formative assessment failure

Here are the lessons I have since learned about formative assessment—while intellectually, many of these are things that I had known before I stepped into the classroom, it took a year of teaching to really recognize them:

1.  Formative assessment needs to be constant—and it’s more than paper-and-pencil

Formative assessment is more than an exit ticket at the close of a lesson or a set of “check in questions” at the end of the week. It’s really an action and a habit that should be occurring consistently in the classroom. Formative assessment takes many shapes and comes in many sizes: yes, my exit tickets and weekly question sets, were a type of formative assessment, but formative assessment can also be well-timed questions, monitoring of student discussion, observation checklists, interviews, notes pages, one-on-one check-ins, and more. Like learning how to balance on a surfboard, it requires time and practice to build up a teacher’s formative assessment muscle and make it a routine part of daily practice. By thinking about formative assessment as paper-and-pencil strategies only, I’d limited myself to examining only a tiny fraction of the actionable data coming from my students and therefore lost valuable opportunities to fill learning gaps.

2. Formative assessment demands follow up

Formative assessment by definition is meant to inform instructional choices and next steps. Formative assessment without follow-up therefore is not really formative assessment. All those well-meaning exit tickets I’d painstakingly prepared (but rarely had time to review) my first year teaching? All those thoughtful questions I added into my lesson plans? (but never strategically listened to student answers)?  I thought I was formatively assessing, but without the expertise that comes with experience (not to mention the time as a first year teacher) to examine my student work, bucket my class into groups based on their demonstrated understanding, and meet each student in the right place, providing the just-right interventions, redirection, questioning, and prompting—I was asking questions, but not following up. I was only doing half the battle.

3. Formative assessment takes planning, coordination, and pedagogical content knowledge

Great formative assessment is planned and backmapped from a larger learning goal. It’s not enough to just ask questions and redirect or reteach when necessary, great formative assessment drives towards an end understanding or challenge (such as adding fractions with like denominators) and provides insight into where understanding breaks down at critical moments, allowing you to adjust course as necessary. When I reviewed the questions and exit slips from my first year, I realized in horror that they were scattered, often uncoordinated with my lesson objective, my modeling, and my targeted state standard. Even when I did have time to review student work, because my formative probing wasn’t always thoughtfully aligned with my instruction or designed to unveil misunderstandings, it did me little good.

4. Formative assessment is an art—but we don’t like to think about it that way.

Looking back on my experience that first year, I realize that something else was at work as well. In both my training prior to entering the classroom and the ongoing professional development I received through my school, as well as classes I sought out on my own, formative assessment was treated as an afterthought, a secondary or supporting character that was constantly upstaged by the star of the show: the state test. In third grade, the first official testing year, this was especially true.

When formative assessment was mentioned at all, it was as an aside—a given, something that everyone MUST be doing, and something so elementary that it did not merit discussion or elaboration. The message that this sent to me as a new teacher was: “Formative assessment is easy, something you should just ‘know’ how to do, it shouldn’t take too much of your time, effort, or thought.” It took the state test, like a bucket of icy water, to wake me up.

The truth is that formative assessment is an art. To be done well, a teacher must exercise the pedagogical content knowledge to craft questions that will reveal and anticipate particular student misunderstandings, quickly interpret student work, responses, and data, rapidly take action—whether that be a follow up question or prompt, regrouping students, or re-teaching a particular concept with a different approach—and juggle all this with the time allotted for instruction and classroom management concerns. As a first year teacher, I was struggling to keep my head above water and blissfully ignorant of delicate balancing act that is formative assessment.

5. Formative assessment gets easier with practice—and support

Building up an approach to formative assessment that is reflexive, one that a teacher can instinctively fire at critical moments with the right questions, prompts, and follow-through takes time and practice. It also takes advice and modeling from veteran teachers, support and feedback from administrators, guidance and examples from curricular tools, and professional development that builds pedagogical content knowledge. This kind of support is made all the more important with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which raise the bar and require students to flexibly attack challenging, real-life math tasks and deeply understand complex text. Without routine and thoughtful formative assessment that is anchored by strategic follow-up, students will struggle. Without these supports as a first year teacher, I grappled daily (even though I wasn’t fully aware of that until it was too late).

Scaling our impact

At LearnZillion, the academic team spends a lot of time thinking and talking about formative assessment. Sometimes, I leave these conversations wanting to go back in time to shake my first year teacher self into an earlier realization of the role that formative assessment should have been playing in my classroom all along. More often though, I leave with a sense of respect and awe of teachers and colleagues who have mastered this delicate art—and a desire to take their best practices, habits, and content knowledge and share it with others so that come spring time, there aren’t other first year teachers facing the question, “Shouldn’t you have known?”

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Editor’s note: For more on how to leverage some of the techniques Posie mentions in this post, check out:

For Math: http://blog.learnzillion.com/2014/01/16/backwards-mapping-from-parcc-and-sbac-math-items-to-formative-assessments-2/

For ELA: http://blog.learnzillion.com/2014/01/31/text-talks-a-first-step-in-planning-for-close-reading-2/

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Delaware Names 34 Teachers to the Delaware Dream Team

We’re excited to announce that the 34 members of Delaware’s inaugural Dream Team have been announced!

(To recap – Delaware selected LearnZillion to lead the state’s professional development offering over several other much larger and more traditional companies last fall.)

Details of Delaware’s Press Release below – Stay tuned for news from Delaware’s TeachFest, to be held January 9-11, 2014.

For immediate release

 

Contact Alison May (302) 735-4000

STATE NAMES 34 TEACHERS TO DREAM TEAM

Thirty-four teachers from across the state will join the Delaware Dream Team, helping to develop high-quality Common Core formative assessment items that will be shared with teachers throughout Delaware.

Members will collaborate in small groups with fellow teachers and Common Core coaches from across the country to create resources, receive feedback and learn together. They will share their professional development experience with colleagues to further broaden their impact.

“The 2014 Delaware Dream Team is both an opportunity to recognize some of the state’s most accomplished teachers and a challenge to those individuals to continue to grow, to make collaboration an integral part of their practice and to create high-quality materials that will help teachers and students across our state — and around the country — be successful,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.

The team will convene January 9 to 11 for Delaware’s TeachFest, a unique celebration of great teaching and an intensive, structured working session. Following TeachFest, the Delaware Dream Team members will return to their 31 elementary, middle and high schools to continue working with peers and content coaches in online professional learning communities. During this process, the Dream Team members will translate their proven teaching methods and classroom expertise into formative assessment tools and resources for use by teachers in Delaware, and around the country, through a free Common Core resource library.

The Delaware Department of Education is partnering with LearnZillion on this project. This summer, LearnZillion worked with 200 teachers from 42 states to create more than 10,000 high-quality, Common Core resources in math and English language arts. They are featured on the LearnZillion website.

“We couldn’t be more excited about working with Delaware,” said LearnZillion CEO Eric Westendorf. “[Delaware leaders] really understand that teachers are the most important factor in student learning, and that the traditional model of ‘sit n’ get’ professional development doesn’t work. They are choosing to do what all the research on talent development recommends – namely, to support professional growth by providing deep practice of do-able, bite-sized tasks. We’re so energized to help make that happen.”

Members of the 2014 Delaware Dream Team, who each will receive a $500 stipend, were selected through a competitive application process evaluating both their understanding of the Common Core State Standards and their desire to “scale their impact” beyond the walls of their own classrooms. The teachers themselves represent a wide spectrum of grade bands, with 22 from English language arts and 12 from mathematics disciplines.

Members of the 2014 Delaware Dream Team

Members of the 2014 Delaware Dream Team