Questioning the Author: A Powerful Approach to Promote Student Understanding of Complex Texts

Questioning the Author: A Powerful Approach to Promote Student Understanding of Complex Texts

Questioning the Author is a discussion-based approach that supports students in studying and understanding complex texts. Comprehension work is an essential piece of any text-based task. If students don’t get the gist of the text or grasp an author’s ideas, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to do deeper analytic and interpretive work. It is especially important for emerging readers and emergent multi-lingual (EML) students to be able to access the big ideas of a text while building their comprehension muscles.

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Mathematical Representations: A Window into Student Thinking

Mathematical Representations: A Window into Student Thinking

Representations are windows into student thinking and reasoning. In a time of virtual classrooms, using visual representations is more complex, but as important as ever. If a teacher values students’ thinking, they need to consider how to make it possible for all students to represent that thinking. This article addresses the use of representations and the questions that help students connect representations to deepen understanding of math concepts.

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Accountable Talk® Discussions: Solidifying Knowledge and Engaging in Rigorous Thinking Alongside Others in a Collaborative Community

Accountable Talk® Discussions: Solidifying Knowledge and Engaging in Rigorous Thinking Alongside Others in a Collaborative Community

Accountable Talk discussions require teachers and their students to support one another and mutually create a classroom community committed to using and building accurate knowledge and engaging in rigorous thinking. Everyone involved understands and is accountable for respecting each other and the learning community, as a whole. This begins with recognizing and honoring each person’s different lived experiences because every person brings vital knowledge and valuable assets to the learning community. This article provides a general understanding of Accountable Talk discussions and serves as a basis to begin exploring this high-leverage practice.

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Organizing Instructional Tasks with Landing Pages

Organizing Instructional Tasks with Landing Pages

Teachers have found great success using landing pages to organize learning for students across one text or across multiple texts in a unit. A landing page is a page on a website where students “land” to do their work or engage in a task. Landing pages, much like task sheets, provide students with both the why and the what of an instructional task. They support more equitable access to instructional activities by making expectations clear and providing step-by-step guidance for students as they engage in learning.

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Using 4 Learner-Centered Routines to Build Positive Math Identity in Equitable Classrooms

Using 4 Learner-Centered Routines to Build Positive Math Identity in Equitable Classrooms

Every person is a “math person” and using learner-centered routines can support students in seeing themselves as doers of mathematics. This article, the second of a two-part series, shares how’s and why’s of four learner-centered routines that provide opportunities for students to build positive math identity by creating space for voice, agency, and actually doing mathematics.

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4 Go-To Learner-Centered Routines to Bolster Math Discussions, In-Person and Online

4 Go-To Learner-Centered Routines to Bolster Math Discussions, In-Person and Online

Learner-centered routines are valuable tools for educators because the routines help to spur discussion based on student input, support students as they construct understanding, improve how students see themselves as mathematicians, and create opportunities for formative assessment. This article, the first of a two-part series, shares four learner-centered routines that work in-person and online during mathematics discussions. The second article, coming out on December 1, explores how these four routines can be used to create space for student voice and agency and support them in developing positive mathematical identities as doers of mathematics.

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Remote Coaching for Rigorous and Engaging Online Classroom Discussions: Layering New Forums with Fresh Insights

Remote Coaching for Rigorous and Engaging Online Classroom Discussions: Layering New Forums with Fresh Insights

Coaches have a critical role in assisting teachers in continuing, rather than abandoning, important pedagogies while teaching online. Read about what is being learned through ongoing research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center on how coaches can support teachers remotely to engage students in rigorous and interactive online discussions.

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A New Take on the Learning Walk® Routine to Get Smarter About Teaching and Learning in the Cloud

A New Take on the Learning Walk® Routine to Get Smarter About Teaching and Learning in the Cloud

Many school districts have moved to virtual or hybrid models of instruction and we recognize that using the typical Learning Walk routine, which asks district and school leaders to visit classrooms and provide targeted feedback, doesn’t quite fit in a virtual space. However, we also recognize the need to continue to support district leaders in helping teachers provide high-quality instruction to every student.

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Principals Leading with a Coaching Lens

Principals Leading with a Coaching Lens

Before becoming building principals, we were instructional coaches, each of us having coached either mathematics or ELA. Instruction was always the focus of our coaching work. After several years as principals, we realized that though supporting teaching and learning was a component of our work, it was no longer the focus. Once we came to that realization, we knew that we needed to make some changes.

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What PLCs Get Results?

What PLCs Get Results?

A growing number of schools focus on some form of communities of practice as a key to improving their performance. Schools typically refer to communities of practice as professional learning communities (PLCs). These work in a variety of ways and have different goals, but only some achieve their intended results.

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Implementing Accountable Talk® discussions in math

Implementing Accountable Talk® discussions in math

“It definitely makes my heart smile when I hear a teacher say, ‘I just stopped what I was doing because the student knew more than I did and just took over!’ or ‘I began to feel frustrated because we were not able to work through the content the way that I originally planned, but I learned so much about what they know and have experienced by re-framing some of my questioning and allowing them to create the questions too.

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Conferring with Teachers & Coaches Requires Setting Clear Learning Goals

Conferring with Teachers & Coaches Requires Setting Clear Learning Goals

Conferring with teachers in advance of observing a lesson is a critical component of the Content-Focused Coaching® (CFC) cycle. These “pre-conferences” are opportunities for the coach and the teacher to reflect together about a teacher’s lesson plan, and thus are a rich opportunity for teacher learning. Lesson planning is specifically important for facilitating rigorous Accountable Talk® classroom discussions.

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Increasing High-Quality Student Talk

Increasing High-Quality Student Talk

The Institute for Learning (IFL) and Schenectady City School District have worked collaboratively for several years, and this year, we continued our ongoing partnership with a focus on using improvement science methodology to “get better at getting better.” District-wide, there is a focus on using improvement science to work on persistent problems of practice.

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Using Accountable Talk® Practices to Build the Mind

Using Accountable Talk® Practices to Build the Mind

Children are born with the innate capacity to reason beginning at a very young age (Carey, 2009; Gopnik and Wellman, 2012; Spelke and Kinzler, 2007). Very young children build explanatory systems—implicit theories—that organize their knowledge. These theories enable children to predict, explain, and reason about relevant phenomena and, in some cases, intervene to change them.

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Differentiation Across Tiers of Math Instruction

Differentiation Across Tiers of Math Instruction

What does it mean to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of every learner in a mathematics classroom? Giving different students different tasks does not yield a common learning experience; therefore, the availability of holding rich mathematical conversations with the whole class is lacking.

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Engaging Emergent Bilingual Students in Daily Academic Talk

Engaging Emergent Bilingual Students in Daily Academic Talk

English learners (ELs)—or emergent bilinguals (EBs) as educators now refer to these students to remove the deficit stigma from their identity (Garcia et al., 2008)—must engage in academic conversations every day to gain access to the world of knowledge. Their educational mission is the simultaneous acquisition of knowledge and English.

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Working Toward Rigor: Implementing High-Level Math Tasks

Working Toward Rigor: Implementing High-Level Math Tasks

Designing for academic rigor in a thinking classroom starts with the choice of task with which students will engage. Likewise when striving to improve student achievement, we ask our school partners to begin by analyzing the tasks students experience. If we want students to truly understand mathematics, as opposed to a series of tricks, sayings, and acronyms, then we have to ensure they have a regular diet of high-level tasks that require thinking and reasoning about mathematics.

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Math, a Journey of Understanding

Math, a Journey of Understanding

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.

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