Guest Blog: Saturn Street Elementary LDC Lead & Learn Fellows Share Their LDC Implementation Experience
Note: We are pleased to welcome guest bloggers and 2017 LDC Lead & Learn Fellows Celenia Calderon and Maria Teresa Alcala from Saturn Street Elementary School in Los Angeles, CA. In this article, one in a series of blogs by Lead & Learn Fellows, they share their experience in learning and implementing LDC tools.
Have you ever felt like your wheels are spinning? Two years ago we reached that point where no matter the professional development or technological gadgets we used, student academic performance was stagnant. We had maximized our supplemental educational resources, equipped every classroom with a SmartBoard, Mimio board, or document readers, and had countless PDs on the implementation of Common Core, but somehow it just wasn’t enough to yield the results we wanted to achieve.
We had systems in place to group students according to academic need, we provided small group instruction and, while some strides were made, it still wasn’t enough. We spent countless hours collaborating, reviewing student data, planning interventions and delivering those interventions without much success. Pondering over our limited success we dug out our “toolbox” and realized that we lacked the ability to articulate intended learning outcomes, and lacked a system to design and deliver coherent instruction.
This is when our Principal, Tracie Bryant, first introduced us to the Literacy Design Collaborative. Joining LDC was a voluntary process, we could only participate if we truly wanted to see a change in student achievement. We vowed to get our hands dirty, be open to learning, collaborate, grow professionally, and invest the time. There was a new sense of awareness and acknowledgment among the group of participants.
After completing the 2-day training we had a new sense of direction, a path towards effective classroom instruction and sustained student achievement. Our goal for the first year was simple: complete online courses, implement mini-tasks, and complete a module through authentic collaborative opportunities with the Principal, out-of-the-classroom support staff, and our LDC coach.
During the first year, we invested several hours learning the ins-and-outs of LDC, how to navigate the LDC CoreTools platform, and we learned to listen to each other, provide constructive feedback, and how to identify flaws in our “tasks prompts” and “instructional ladder.” We became true learners of our craft; we engaged in discussions that truly focused on enhancing our practice and centered around student achievement. If we as educators could not articulate the intended outcome, we could not expect our children to produce high-quality work. Through our interaction with LDC teaching task templates and the various components of the platform, we have learned to be intentional and deliberate when planning tasks and instruction. Our mindset has definitely shifted.
As we are nearing the completion of year two with LDC, we can’t help but celebrate our accomplishments. Participating teachers can articulate intended student outcomes and modules; instructional timelines are posted in every room. Students are able to analyze tasks and rubrics. Students know that they are writing in response to reading and that citing evidence is part of their scholarly work. Opportunities for writing have become more evident in LDC participants’ classrooms. Students have improved their ability to think and respond critically.
The LDC CoreTools platform is a truly collaborative forum that allows teachers to create curriculum that is aligned to the standards. It guides teachers through a structured and sequential process. It is exciting to know that, with a click of a button, you have access to various mini-tasks and modules created by teachers from all over the country. LDC is unique because it is a structured and organized system that facilitates communication and collaboration among professionals who seek to enhance their instructional practices and better serve students.