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3    Transforming Groups Into High-Performing Teams

Richard DuFour Solution Tree Press ePub

Transforming Groups Into High-Performing Teams

Organizing school staff into meaningful teams and ensuring members have access to one another by addressing the issues of propinquity and time are essential structural issues that principals must address in a PLC. Changing structures, however, is never enough. In order to build and sustain the culture of collaboration focused on learning and results, principals must provide leadership and support to ensure their faculties use the team time wisely.

This chapter will focus on two important steps principals can facilitate to help transform a group of teachers into a high-performing team.

1.  Engage teams in identifying collective commitments to guide collaboration.

2.  Engage teams in working collaboratively to achieve SMART goals.

See “Critical Issues for Team Consideration” for the list of eighteen critical issues teams must address as they engage in the PLC process

See “Why Should We Collaborate?” for a sampling of the research on collaboration. Visit go.solution-tree.com/plcbooks to download these reproducibles.

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Medium 9781935542056

Chapter 10 The Engagement Toolbox

Mary Kim Schreck Solution Tree Press ePub

Whenever I begin a workshop for new teachers, I give them the following advice: you will be offered many varied and rich opportunities for professional development during your teaching career, and the mindset you assume when acting on these opportunities will determine how valuable they will be for you. If you can come away with a few new ideas or with a few strategies that you can incorporate in your class instruction, you have had a successful session. Not every idea or strategy will be appropriate for you. Pick those that seem to be a good fit.

I suggest that you read this chapter with much the same mindset. Many tools are highlighted here; pick the ideas and strategies that seem to be a good fit for you and your class.

First Thoughts on the Engagement Toolbox

This chapter covers a wide variety of tools—tangible and abstract—that help the teacher to grab and hold his or her students’ attention. What do you keep in your cabinets? An inventory might tell you a lot about your teaching style and your attitude toward multisensory engagement. Sometimes we think we appear one way or another, but our cabinets tell us otherwise. Many of you might not realize just how much you do try to make your lessons more alive and understandable. What is your cabinet telling you about your teaching?

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Medium 9780253115560

18. A Trip and a New Awareness

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

PRIOR TO 1941 the only foreign countries I had visited were Mexico and Canada. My first opportunity for extensive travel abroad came when I was invited by Hubert Herring, the executive director of the Committee on Cultural Relations with Latin America, Incorporated, to participate in the Institute on Inter-American Affairs, which traveled throughout Latin America from late July through mid-September, 1941. The trip was organized so well that I gained an amazing amount of information about Latin America in a relatively short period, but, more importantly, the experience enlarged my perspective in a way that was to have a profound influence on my view of Indiana University's province. All at once I became conscious of the world scene.

People were beginning vaguely to perceive Latin America at this time as of much more significance to the United States than had previously been recognized. Rumors of the Nazi infiltration in Latin America were rife, and suddenly, because of the war pressures, we began to realize the importance of Latin American raw materials such as rubber to our own economic health. As a result, attention focused on Brazil, which was in the process of developing rubber plantations.

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Medium 9781942496359

Chapter 3: Peak Campus

Alexander, Bryan Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 3

Peak Campus

Now that we have covered a variety of trends impacting higher education, from technology to economics and politics, we can select and combine a group of them that interact with each other to form a kind of megatrend. For this chapter we can pull together forces that suggest a smaller future for academics in the United States, following an experience akin to the 2008 housing bubble: peak higher education.

When I first wrote about this megatrend, the concept seemed somewhat perverse (Alexander, 2013, 2014a, 2014b). It was five years after the terrible financial crash of 2008, which kicked off what many call the Great Recession and clobbered many campuses’ finances. Recovery had been under way, though, with endowments returning, charitable donations rising, and institutional cash flows largely resurrected. Very fiscally conservative, austere education spending strategies that had taken hold of state and federal governments had elicited opposition and active dislike, leading North Dakota and California to start reinvesting in their public universities. The economic argument for higher education—the college premium of a lifetime earning boost due to receiving a degree—was still popular. Also popular was American higher education abroad, as more international students continued to arrive on this country’s campuses, even after the War on Terror’s tightened travel restrictions. Casting a pall over this view must have seemed willfully obtuse, even offensive.

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Medium 9781934009437

Chapter 1: Why Are Students Unmotivated?

Allen Mendler Solution Tree Press ePub

AN EXPECTATION OF ENTITLEMENT is easy to acquire in a culture that too often values what we have rather than who we are. During an age in which abundance of things seems to take precedence over giving the gift of our time, guilt often leads parents to give materially to their children without attaching expectations. When children are spoiled into believing that what they want is what they should have, school provides a rude awakening when it links success to personal effort. Changing the culture is difficult at best, so wise educators need to understand and use social dynamics to create, inspire, and cultivate motivation within their students.

From a psychological perspective, many students who have bad behavior or who give up are covering their concerns about being perceived as stupid. They are protecting themselves from the embarrassment of looking dumb in the eyes of their classmates, parents, and selves. Some students find power and control in their refusals to work. They are often competent and capable, but their need to be in control is so strong that they employ a self-defeating strategy to exert their independence. Depression among children as young as preschoolers is often overlooked as a cause of poor school motivation. When depression is adequately diagnosed, treatment through counseling and drug therapy can often be effective. Whether for competence or autonomy, lack of motivation is a protective mechanism that must be respectfully challenged in order to help students make better choices.

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Medium 9781934009246

Chapter Three: Building Teacher Background Knowledge

Donna Walker-Tileston Solution Tree Press ePub

Being student-centered also means connecting learning to students’ lives, using the student’s own culture, strengths (intelligences), interests, goals, and dreams as the beginning point for learning.

—Bonnie Benard

To begin the shift in beliefs and instructional practices necessary to differentiate instruction, we need to examine our own background knowledge and experience. This is especially true for the majority of us who are part of the dominant culture. The first step in our model is to build teachers’ background knowledge in order to expand the perspective provided by that culture. This is critical if we are to understand the needs of students from poverty and diverse cultures. As a way of examining our background knowledge as teachers, let’s look first at two competing value systems.

Well-documented studies have verified that two ways of thinking, or value systems—individualist and collectivist—have an impact on what teachers reward and punish in schools (Williams, 2003; Greenfield, 1994; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). Our value system—collectivist or individualist—is grounded in our culture and determines how we view achievement and value social knowledge. These factors affect our relationships with parents and the community, our approach to classroom management and organization, and our approach to curriculum, instruction, and assessment—the key processes in education that define our work.

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Medium 9781936763603

Chapter 6 Collaborating and Cooperative Learning

Meg Ormiston Solution Tree Press ePub

Educators often ask me what effective technology use in the classroom looks like, and my answer is always, “Let’s go see teaching and learning in action.”

In October 2014, I led a field trip of school leaders, school board members, and parents from one district to another district. The visiting team was surprised to see that in almost every classroom, groups of students worked collaboratively on projects and lessons. In most classrooms, they sat on the floor working or at tables in groups.

In the rooms where students used technology, most groups shared a device instead of working independently with computers or iPads. There was a mix of devices in most classrooms, and students did not seem to have a problem moving among the different technology tools. One principal noted that each time she asked a group what it was working on, group members could state the instructional purpose of the lesson, and there was an objective posted on the whiteboard in all classrooms.

One board member was surprised by the high level of student engagement in the tasks. She was impressed by the district hashtag, which was filled with pictures of in-class activities and student products, and said, “That is what I want happening in our schools.” Seeing effective technology use in the classroom helped this group create a vision and start to plan for its own district.

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Medium 9781935249849

15 Whatever It Takes: How Effective Schools and Districts Overcome Barriers to Systematic Intervention and Enrichment

Richard DuFour Solution Tree Press ePub

Advice about implementation is consistent. It all amounts to focus, persistence, implementation, monitoring, corrective action, and humility in the face of change.


I know that the urge to try something new is often born of a fear that we’ve chosen wrong and a frustration that we aren’t getting quick results. . . . In hindsight, I see that moving forward and doing something innovative often won out over painstakingly measuring our progress and adjusting our strategies. My advice? Stay the course. Work the plan. Monitor progress and analyze results. It’s not glamorous; it doesn’t make headlines. But patience and persistence work when trying to achieve success at this most difficult of tasks.


In each of the schools and districts featured in this book, educators faced the challenge of formidable logistical barriers. In fact, any school or district that commits to creating a collaborative culture and a system of interventions and enrichment will certainly be confronted with similar issues. The question facing educators, then, is whether they will respond to these challenges with resignation or determination, with explanations as to why it can’t be done or a collective resolve to make it happen.

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Medium 9781936765973

Appendix E Standards for Mathematical Content, Grade 2

Solution Tree Press ePub


Source: NGA & CCSSO, 2010, pp. 13–16. © Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

In Grade 2, instructional time should focus on four critical areas: (1) extending understanding of base-ten notation; (2) building fluency with addition and subtraction; (3) using standard units of measure; and (4) describing and analyzing shapes.

(1)  Students extend their understanding of the base-ten system. This includes ideas of counting in fives, tens, and multiples of hundreds, tens, and ones, as well as number relationships involving these units, including comparing. Students understand multi-digit numbers (up to 1000) written in base-ten notation, recognizing that the digits in each place represent amounts of thousands, hundreds, tens, or ones (e.g., 853 is 8 hundreds + 5 tens + 3 ones).

(2)  Students use their understanding of addition to develop fluency with addition and subtraction within 100. They solve problems within 1000 by applying their understanding of models for addition and subtraction, and they develop, discuss, and use efficient, accurate, and generalizable methods to compute sums and differences of whole numbers in base-ten notation, using their understanding of place value and the properties of operations. They select and accurately apply methods that are appropriate for the context and the numbers involved to mentally calculate sums and differences for numbers with only tens or only hundreds.

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Medium 9781942496113

Chapter 1: A Strong Foundation—and Then Some

Suzie Boss Solution Tree Press ePub

Chapter 1

A Strong Foundation—and Then Some

In Leading the New Literacies, curriculum expert Heidi Hayes Jacobs (2014) describes 21st century educators as standing at a busy crossroads. Buffeted by rapid change and quickly evolving forms of communication, teachers and school leaders must confront decisions about how to cultivate literate learners in these new arenas. Standing still is not an option if we want students to master the literacies and tools they need to fully engage with their 21st century world.

Consider your current learning environment. Is it a destination where students make meaning with the use of digital tools and ready access to information? Do they take that information at face value, or do they evaluate source material for reliability or bias? Is the curriculum prescribed with predictable outcomes, or is it flexible enough for students to explore interests and discover what matters to them? Do they have opportunities to be makers and content creators themselves, sharing their work with authentic audiences? Does learning stop at the classroom door or extend into the wider world through connected learning experiences that develop students’ global competency?

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Medium 9781947604230

Chapter 6

Balch, Tonya C.; Balch, Bradley V. Solution Tree Press PDF

Chapter 6

Abuse and Neglect

Reporting and Mitigation

Administrators and school counselors have the privilege of working with students as young as age three. During this time, they have the opportunity to watch students grow physically, cognitively, and socially. As noted previously, professionals serve in loco parentis (“in place of the parent”; Education Law, n.d.), affording them duties and obligations that accompany their important roles. One such duty is mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect. Students spend hours each day in school, and educators are often the first adults to note changes, physical or emotional, in students (Underwood, 2016). Due to the extended hours they serve as students’ parent or guardian while acting in loco parentis, team members must be vigilant about observing students’ physical and emotional changes. This responsibility extends beyond the school counselor–administrator team reporting suspected abuse or neglect, with implications for establishing a school culture that both follows the state’s law and supports students’ health and well-being. The Federal Child Abuse

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Medium 9781943360130

Introduction Why Competency-Based Education and Personalized Learning?

Robert J. Marzano Marzano Research ePub

One of the most prominent issues in a traditional classroom is the struggle to meet the learning needs and maintain the engagement of all students in a class. Often the hardest students to reach are those on the periphery of the learning continuum; for example, the quick learners who rapidly grasp the material then disengage from learning, or the struggling students who avoid asking questions or trying their best because they know they don’t understand. A solution to help educators reach these students is a shift to competency-based education and personalized learning, an educational reform growing rapidly in prominence within K–12 classrooms.

The Foundation for Excellence in Education (n.d.) defined competency-based education as:

A system of instruction where students advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place or pace. In a traditional system, time is the constant and learning is the variable, meaning students spend a set amount of time on certain subjects and advance at predetermined intervals (course units and grade levels) regardless of whether or not they have mastered the material.

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Medium 9781936765386

Chapter 3 Learning to Write Like a Scientist

Maria C. Grant Solution Tree Press ePub

The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is at the heart of writing instruction, because to become an expert writer, one must be exposed to writing through the texts he or she hears, reads, talks about, and attempts to craft. According to the CCSS, “Students need to learn to use writing as a way of offering and supporting opinions, demonstrating understanding of the subjects they are studying, and conveying real and imagined experiences and events” (NGA & CCSSO, 2010a, p. 18). Instruction designed to support students as writers must remain a priority if we expect them to learn to write texts that inform, entertain, explain, and argue information.

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2011b; National Assessment Governing Board [NAGB], 2012; National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2012), which measures the writing proficiencies of U.S. students, amplify this need for very intentional writing instruction. Of the 24,100 eighth graders and 28,100 twelfth graders who completed the assessment, representing both public and private schools, only 3 percent at each grade level performed at the advanced or superior level, and only 24 percent at both grade levels performed at the proficient level. These findings indicate that the majority of students in each of these grades—54 percent of eighth graders and 52 percent of twelfth graders—performed at a basic level, suggesting they have only a partial mastery of the prerequisite skills and knowledge needed to perform as proficient writers. These data send an alert to teachers in grades K–6 that greater attention must be placed on purposeful writing instruction that ensures students will leave their elementary school years knowing how to write well across the disciplines. At least 20 percent of students at both grades performed at a below-basic level, indicating that they have much less than a partial mastery of the skills and knowledge needed to share ideas and information through writing. These data further indicate that the majority of eighth and twelfth graders are not proficient at sharing their thinking through written statements that persuade, explain, and convey information.

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Medium 9781935542285

Appendix B Table of Contents for the Twenty Units

Elaine McEwan-Adkins Solution Tree Press ePub

Visit go.solution-tree.com/literacy to download and print this figure.

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Medium 9781942496427

Chapter 6 Measurement

Juli K. Dixon Solution Tree Press ePub

In grades 3–5, topics central to measurement include concepts related to perimeter, area, volume, elapsed time, angles, and conversion within systems. Contexts related to measurement offer opportunities for students to engage in problem solving.

The initial task in this chapter (figure 6.1) provides an opportunity for you to engage in problem solving related to measurement. This task involves the use of the geoboard and geoboard dot paper. If you do not have access to a geoboard, the activity can be completed using virtual geoboard manipulatives or the geoboard dot paper provided.

Make nine different (simple) polygons, each with an area of four square units. Record them on geoboard dot paper so that each polygon is on its own board.

Figure 6.1: Geoboard polygons task.

Visit go.solution-tree.com/mathematics for a free reproducible version of this figure.

In order to solve this task, you also need to define different in terms of the problem. In this problem, different means not congruent. Therefore, the polygons in figure 6.2 would not qualify as different because they are transformations of one another. In figure 6.2, you can see that the second figure was just a translation of the first, and the third figure was a rotation of the first figure. Polygons are the same if they are congruent, regardless of their location or orientation on the geoboard (see chapter 5 for more on polygons).

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