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System Under Study Assignments

May 1, 2013Written by bleslie

The Common Assignment Study brings together local educators and experts to develop exemplary units of study that embody the Common Core State Standards and enhance literacy across the curriculum. It is a three-year project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The common units of study will build on the work of the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), with common writing tasks and instructional modules serving as the cornerstone of the common units. In addition to developing units of study, the project seeks to explore the use of the units to support instructional improvement at scale as well as the utility of common units to inform conclusions about individual educator performance. Additionally, an exploratory study will be conducted to examine whether the LDC assessments can be used as part of an embedded teacher evaluation system focusing on curriculum based learning.

The project was launched in May 2013 in Colorado and Kentucky under the leadership of The Colorado Education Initiative and the Kentucky Department of Education. Through targeted professional development modules and site-based feedback, SCALE supports teachers’ development of units of study and provides technical assistance for implementation.

Key Deliverables

  • Enhanced district capacity to lead teachers in the continuing development of common units of study
  • Bank of exemplary assignments aligned with Common Core State Standards for use by participating districts
  • Report detailing research findings related to instructional improvement and educator performance

Currently in its initial phases, the project anticipates completion in 2016.

For more information, visit commonassignment.org or contact Daisy Martin or Nicole Renner.

Learning Forward 2015 Annual Conference: Wrap-Up

While attending the Leading Forward 2015 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, we had the opportunity to connect with colleagues, see old friends, and make new ones. This year’s event emphasized leading change and maximizing impact—themes that resonated throughout the conference sessions, several of which featured LDC partners.

Literacy Design Collaborative Professional Development 846 December 16, 2015

While attending the Leading Forward 2015 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, we had the opportunity to connect with colleagues, see old friends, and make new ones. This year’s event emphasized leading change and maximizing impact—themes that resonated throughout the conference sessions, several of which featured LDC partners:

 

Data Use’s Multiple Faces Supporting Effective Programs 

Introduced by LDC Director of Partnerships & Professional Learning Barb Smith, the session included presentations by researchers Joan Herman, from UCLA’s National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST) and Rebecca Reumann-Moore, from Research for Action (RFA). Presenters focused on lessons learned and challenges faced in collaborative data-driven efforts to support implementation of LDC, and included a discussion of the data sources used to validate and strengthen professional learning and the impact of rigorous design on evaluating program effects.


 Designing Effective Instruction with Literacy Design Collaborative

Presented by LDC Design Team member and author Eleanor Dougherty, this hands-on session introduced participants to the LDC Design System and the rich online resources available in the LDC CoreTools curriculum library.

Using LDC’s teacher-created templates, participants were guided through the instructional design process to learn how to write teaching tasks, create mini-tasks for building students’ skills competence, and sequence tasks to create a unit or course.


Cross-State Collaboration for Implementing the Common Core and Improving Practice

LDC partners Renee Boss, from The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky, and Amy Spicer, from The Colorado Education Initiative, discussed their work on the Common Assignment Study—a collaborative effort across Colorado and Kentucky.

 Describing the power of teachers working together using technology and face-to-face interactions to navigate the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, presenters discussed how teachers and leaders across both states have built an active community of practice focused on student success toward college- and career-readiness and more effective teaching practices.

 

 

LDC in Next Generation Instructional Design

Developing engaging learning experiences requires creativity, communication, and collaboration to do it well. At The Fund for Transforming Education, we value teachers as collaborators creating lessons for engaged student learning. Over the past three years, teachers from Kentucky and Colorado have been collaborating in the creation of units of study with embedded LDC modules.

This work began as a research study called Common Assignment Study (CAS), which we led in partnership with The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). From this research we are now expanding our work and building on our best learning from the study. [Access the recording of a webinar on the CAS presented by Renee Boss at The Fund and Amy Spicer at CEI—and other resources here.]

Renee Boss Education News & Trends 792 October 27, 2015

Developing engaging learning experiences requires creativity, communication, and collaboration to do it well. At The Fund for Transforming Education, we value teachers as collaborators creating lessons for engaged student learning. Over the past three years, teachers from Kentucky and Colorado have been collaborating in the creation of units of study with embedded LDC modules.

This work began as a research study called Common Assignment Study (CAS), which we led in partnership with The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI). From this research we are now expanding our work and building on our best learning from the study. [Access the recording of a webinar on the CAS presented by Renee Boss at The Fund and Amy Spicer at CEI—and other resources here.]

In Kentucky, our expansion includes bringing together more teachers from more grade levels to build additional new units of study with LDC modules (or mini-tasks) embedded. Working with teachers from grades K–12 our new network of teachers, Next Generation Instructional Design Network, began working together this past July.

Because I attended an LDC Partner’s Meeting in Denver earlier in the summer and learned about the National Writing Project’s emphasis on utilizing feedback from students to improve writing tasks (Shark Tank format), we chose a variation on that same theme at our July workshop. Teachers listened to students from grades K–12 to glean information and feedback on writing mini-tasks. The focus on mini-tasks allowed teachers to embed these key instructional tools into larger thematic ideas, with some teachers even choosing a project-based learning approach for meeting their students’ learning needs.

As we at The Fund work to help transform schools, we rely on research, design thinking, and practices that support deeper, more engaged and relevant student learning. Our early work on CAS included working with Justin Wells who recently wrote a book with Bob Lenz and Sally Kingston called Transforming Schools: Using Project Based Learning with the Common Core Standards. In this book, the authors offer practical solutions for focusing on the deeper and more engaged and relevant learning we believe the LDC tools used by Kentucky teachers also support.

Therefore, when asked to contemplate our LDC goals for 2015–2016, we considered our work toward more student centered, project-based learning, and decided upon one major LDC related goal we hope to accomplish with resounding success. We plan to support teachers using project based learning, performance-based assessments, and LDC tools together to create improved learning experiences and outcomes for Kentucky students.


 If you missed the LDC in Action webinar on the Common Assignment Study presented by Renee Boss and Amy Spicer, you can access the recording and other resources here:

Read interviews with Renee Boss and Amy Spicer, in which they discuss the Common Assignment Study and the important part that LDC CoreTools played in this work.

Common Assignment Study Webinar Wrap-Up

Thank you to all who attended the LDC in Action webinar: Lessons Learned from the Common Assignment Study. Presenters included: Renee Boss, Initiative Director, The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky; Amy Spicer, Director of Professional Learning, The Colorado Education Initiative; Gary McCormick, Project Manager for the Common Assignment Study, Kenton County School District (KY); and Michelle Logan, Professional Learning Team Liaison, Thompson County School District (CO). If you missed the Common Assignment webinar, you can access the recording and resources here...

Jeannie Sharkey LDC Modules 789 October 23, 2015

Thank you to all who attended the LDC in Action webinar: Lessons Learned from the Common Assignment Study. Presenters included: Renee Boss, Initiative Director, The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky; Amy Spicer, Director of Professional Learning, The Colorado Education Initiative; Gary McCormick, Project Manager for the Common Assignment Study, Kenton County School District (KY); and Michelle Logan, Professional Learning Team Liaison, Thompson County School District (CO).


If you missed the Common Assignment webinar, you can access the recording and resources here:


The Common Assignment Study (CAS) was conceived to facilitate multi-district, multi-state collaboration among teachers within participating districts and states during the transition to new college- and career-readiness standards. Teachers came together to create PLCs to develop common units with embedded LDC modules, and performance-based assessments—with a focus on robust ways to document deeper student learning and promote student engagement. CAS offers a collaborative model that enables meaningful teacher collaboration and is grounded in student and teacher work. The study also illustrates how LDC can be flexibly used in a larger context. 

Beginning in the summer of 2013 with two districts each in Kentucky and Colorado, 6 cross-state teams of 8 teachers per team convened that first year to create and implement two units. Face-to-face convenings were expanded by virtual collaborations. By the second year, multiple districts in both states participated, focusing on revising modules that had been implemented in Year One.

 

According to CAS Project Manager Gary McCormick, “With CAS and LDC, we’ve seen organic spread from participating teachers to their colleagues, who liked what they saw and found the work to be impressive enough that they implemented their own modules. “ He noted that the work done in the CAS underscores not only the power of collaboration, but also the power of using student work as a way to refine the unit and instruction—not just mastery.

 

Professional Learning Liaison, Michelle Logan agreed, saying “CAS has shifted what they [Thompson County Schools] do as a district. They have organically expanded into different content and grades. CAS has helped teachers to look at student work and examine their practice in a systematic way to determine what students really need.”

She added that results to date are showing that students are retaining the transferrable skills as they move from one grade to the next. In one instance, internal data showed a 30% increase from the district’s fall assessment to the spring CAS assessment using the same rubric—which has prompted other teachers to embrace the project and participate.

 

Although the formal research project is phasing out, the work continues on a statewide basis in Year Three in both Colorado and Kentucky. In Colorado, teams are implement existing units and designing new ones, and several new districts are now using CAS tools and LDC modules.

The Kentucky teams are not only teaching existing units and designing new ones, but are also engaging in ongoing Next Generation Instructional Design (NGID), exploring interdisciplinary unit design and module development, as they work to embed CAS into a larger system of instructional transformation.

One of the areas where participants will continue to collaborate across states is through a committee of teachers who will evaluate the new units created in each state. Both Kentucky and Colorado are now working with elementary teachers to create units with embedded LDC modules. Participants from both states continue to create and publish LDC collections featuring their teachers’ fine work.


Access the Common Assignment Study Webinar Recording and Other Resources: