Q & A With Renee Boss of The Fund for Transforming Education
Note: Recently, Catherine Wedgwood from Getting Smart had the opportunity to talk to Renee Boss, Initiative Director at The Fund for Transforming Education, about the Common Assignment Study, some preliminary results, and how LDC CoreTools plays an integral part in the work.
The Fund for Transforming Education seeks out innovative education solutions that can lead to greater success for all Kentucky students. In collaboration with The Colorado Education Initiative, the organizations recently concluded the Common Assignment Study.
Participating teachers from each state developed and taught two instructional units per year that exemplified the content knowledge and skills embedded in the Kentucky Core Academic Standards and the Colorado Academic Standards. The units contained common performance tasks for students, including LDC modules. While researchers are still working on final results, they have shared a few preliminary results:
- Feedback indicates teachers felt more confident in their teaching as they had more tools at their disposal and they could see student achievement scores and engagement improved.
- Initial feedback from teacher/student/principal perception surveys was positive, with participants feeling more could be done because there were more participants providing feedback.
- It was noted that often collaboration can be a struggle, especially when you’re dealing with two districts in different parts of country with different district demands. However, the majority of teachers felt it was worth the effort.
- Students were very interested in what their counterparts in the other district were doing, and it became a friendly rivalry displaying school and state pride.
Q: How does LDC improve your work?
A: One way LDC improves my work is through its collaboration options. We live in an increasingly collaborative world and through LDC you can collaborate with teachers anytime, anywhere. This also provides an excellent chance for teachers to model collaboration behaviors for students, who will need these skills to become successful in life. A great feature of LDC is its collection of so many resources and so many minds together. By this I mean that you don’t have to recreate the wheel to meet the needs of students. You can find what you need and you can adapt existing tools.
LDC also improves my work through two features: the Instructional Ladder and its hardwiring to academic standards. Those two staples of what LDC is about allow those in my organization to work better together, teachers to work better together—and helps teachers to think about the skills needed to complete the final LDC task at the end of the module.
Q: How do you use LDC CoreTools?
A: Because of the virtual collaboration capabilities with LDC CoreTools, we are able to connect with other teachers and share teaching strategies with one another. This is especially helpful when thinking about discipline-specific instructional strategies for the content we teach. Using the Curriculum Library in LDC CoreTools, teachers are able to browse to find LDC mini-tasks and modules that they can use, adapt, and share with other teachers.
We’ve heard positive things from instructional coaches about the ability to share modules on LDC CoreTools to solicit feedback and improve instruction. LDC is useful to teachers as they demonstrate their effectiveness in the state's professional growth and effectiveness system. By conducting pre-assessments at the start of a module, teachers can then look for improvement in student work in the final LDC written task.
This natural connection makes LDC an integral part of our work instead of requiring something extra. Another advantage of using LDC is that it provides common rubrics, and in Kentucky's Teacher Professional Growth and Effectiveness System teachers are asked to use common rubrics to measure student growth at various points in the year.
Q: Why would you recommend LDC CoreTools?
A: LDC CoreTools is important for its collaboration properties. It’s so beneficial to be able to collaborate in LDC CoreTools easily with teachers. It’s user-friendly; you can work with teachers across the country. Not only can you co-create tasks, but you can share with other teachers who are teaching the same thing or you can provide support.
Q: Do you have any last thoughts you’d like to share?
A: Our experience with LDC has been terrific, and we’d highly recommend them to anyone. We have been involved since LDC first started, and are so impressed with what and how much they have done since they became an independent organization.
LDC’s presence on social media is wonderful because so many teachers use social media, so they are connected to their audience through Twitter chats and their blog. The growth of their vision to help teachers help students learn better is made even more successful by the intelligent and collaborative people who work there, who are great at modeling how to interact in the current world we live in.