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Best of Fall 2016 LDC i3 Success Stories

January 17th, 2017

The LDC i3 project has had an amazing start to the school year so far and many of the professional learning communities (PLCs) at participating schools have written and taught rigorous in-depth modules. Here are some highlights from coaches, project liaisons, and teachers at i3 participating schools.

PS 211-District 12, Bronx, NY

Teachers at PS 211 in the Bronx have had reflective conversations as a team after teaching their “Flowers for Algernon” modules. Reflecting on their modules and student work helped them identify the ways the kids grew, and the skills students need to work on next. Project Liaison Faith Dunn explains her learning:  

“I feel that looking at student work was very helpful today. We were able to identify common trends in Mr. Pacifico's class via analysis of student work samples. We found that students were able to successfully use the mini-tasks successfully. As a group, we noticed a common trend that students may need to [review how to analyze an author’s] narrative techniques. For example, some of the students' responses demonstrated some incomplete understanding of all techniques and the resulting goals of utilizing such techniques. Reteaching techniques and goals, or focusing on only a handful of techniques from the TC [Teachers College] unit options, could help to remedy this issue. For the most part, the students demonstrated an understanding of the strategies and show promise of future growth and effectiveness within this module.”

Social Studies and ELA teacher Silverio Pacifico also notes:

“After looking at students’ close readings of "Flowers for Algernon," I see that some of my students are struggling with [identifying an author’s] narrative techniques and goals in the analysis part of the close read. I have to determine how to get my students to master writing about and analyzing the technique and goals that the author is using. One idea that has been suggested is to focus on two techniques a week. Drilling and focusing the students on a technique and goal can be helpful in making the students more comfortable with writing about narrative techniques and goals.”

Van Siclen Community Middle School-District 19, Brooklyn, NY

Teachers at Van Siclen Middle School have also been discussing how LDC mini-tasks increase student engagement. Project Liaison and Social Studies/ELA/special education teacher Katie McNelly explains the excitement she witnessed from her students:

“Students engaged in accountable talk by using the LDC-written mini-task with fidelity; students observed the fishbowl respectfully and provided feedback on positive observations. When moving to their groups, students immediately adopted their debate roles and shared their notes from their original brainstorm the prior class period. Students were highly engaged in the discussion and listened respectfully to classmates by allowing them to speak without interjection and use the sentence starter stems in the mini-task anchor chart. Students reflected that the discussion helped them better understand the text and most identified that using evidence effectively helped them convince others of their viewpoint.”


Example of student work

PS 48 William Wordsworth-District 28, Queens, NY

Teachers at PS 48 William Wordsworth are working together to create common modules, which target the same standards across content areas and grade levels. The teachers realized students will grow even more from this approach since students will hear the same message across classrooms. Coach Christine Del Negro reflects on the process:

“The teachers just finished teaching a common module last week and are starting to post student work. They did it in the same content, Native Americans, as well as around the same standards. They've been very reflective on the process and are definitely engaged in the work. One of their many reflections is that next time, they will focus on a common task and standards but will add in the content for each grade level. They have made instructional shifts based on the initial student work from the beginning of the module!”

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First-grade teacher Jennifer Barry shares her positive reflections:

"LDC has helped me develop weeklong modules that go deeper with a particular standard that the students are in need of more practice with. The LDC framework has encouraged me to ramp up the level of rigor in my literacy block where I know have much of my class immersed in the stages of close reading, writing to explain, and constructing models of their learning. I have implemented  the framework three different times and feel more and more excited about it each week!"

Lucero Elementary School-District 9, Bronx, NY

Note: Lucero offers a Spanish dual-language program to both English speakers and English Language Learners entering kindergarten or grade 1. The kindergarten classes are taught 80 percent in Spanish and 20 percent in English, and in grades 1-5, they will be taught equally in both languages (

This bilingual school includes a fourth grade PLC in which teachers use LDC templates for ALL writing assignments taught at the school! Additionally, teachers on the fifth-grade team have started using the templates and resources even though they are not yet part of the coached PLC.

One of the LDC templates the teachers used was from the Letters to the Next President module collection. Students wrote letters to the President-elect about the issues that are most important to them.


Student letters

Hooper Elementary School - Los Angeles, CA

Teachers had their first PLC meeting using LDC’s resources and coaching this December. Their coach, Pam Ryan, joined virtually while the teachers began brainstorming a common social studies module to teach across their fifth-grade classrooms. They decided to target College and Career Readiness standards RL3 and RL6 across the fifth-grade in order to focus all students on analyzing multiple accounts of Lewis and Clark’s interactions with Native American groups. The group is currently adapting an existing module (Heroes vs. Villains) in order to teach and analyze student work quickly.

Liberty Boulevard Elementary School - South Gate, CA

Third- and fourth-grade teachers at Liberty Boulevard Elementary School have been collaborating and working closely as a PLC to develop LDC modules. LDC coach Karen Venditti notes that “this planning process has enabled teachers to dissect how they will scaffold and teach the skills students need to complete the writing assignment and to be more intentional with their assignments across classrooms in the grade level.” Teachers commented that they are more cognizant of their overall planning for instruction, which has resulted in more detailed planning to develop students’ enduring literacy skills!

Carver Middle School - Los Angeles, CA

Carver Middle School’s LDC Project Liaison, Frank Mora, has led his team to consider how they can use the LDC planning tools to create rigorous writing prompts for use as interim assessments at the school. Carver’s seventh- and eighth-grade teachers are working during their PLC to identify the target reading, writing, and speaking & listening standards for these assessments, and to then create writing prompts that explicitly ask students to develop the skills noted in those standards by using the LDC planning tools.

Frank explains how this work is supporting his growth as an instructional lead at Carver:  “I (feel) confident that all my team members understood the benefits of building lessons using the LDC tools. We agreed to share modules and mini-tasks with one another in the same department and across departments science/social studies. We agreed this would benefit us in the planning/growth process… This could fill our need for science curriculum since we are uncertain when curriculum materials/textbooks will be ordered. I shared my experiences with a module and mini-task that I had implemented in my classroom. Everyone was impressed with the attachments that came with the modules/mini-task. I thoroughly described my experience with teaching the ‘Three Religions, One Sacred Place’ module, and the mini-task ‘How a Bill Becomes a Law.’" I opened up my discussion for questions and felt like I fully demonstrated the value of this [work].”

Saturn Street Elementary School - Los Angeles, CA

Saturn Elementary School is in its second year of LDC implementation. Kindergarten and fifth-grade teachers are working with coordinators to consider vertical alignment of strong literacy development across grade levels. This year, members of Saturn’s coached PLC are mentoring all grade level planning teams and using LDC’s planning tools to create writing assignments in all grade levels. The school has used common assignments and is now using the LDC task templates to guide teachers in creating assignments with some common elements across the school (such as focusing on the same reading and writing standards across the school).

In October 2016, all teachers at Saturn used LDC’s planning tools to create writing assignments that targeted College and Career Readiness standard RL3 for reading, which focuses students on tracking character development over the course of a text.

Here are a few of the finished tasks and student products:

Saturn Elementary School Fifth Grade ELA Writing Assignment (Standard R3 focus)

Saturn Elementary School Third Grade RSP Writing Assignment (Standard R3 focus)

Kindergarten teacher Della Davidson notes that “students seemed to have a better ability to discuss the content than would have been the case in previous years” due to her more intentional and scaffolded approach to teaching her students to read and write for the purposes of her assignments.

Moving forward, the Saturn group will continue supporting the school-wide development of LDC modules, reflective student work analysis PLCs, and the collection of student work exemplars for use in future PLCs.

To learn how to get involved with the LDC i3 project in New York and Los Angeles, please contact



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