Instruction at Pine City Schools
A wide array of research shows that the single greatest factor affecting a student’s achievement is classroom instruction. A study by Mortimore and Sammons, in fact, found that classroom instruction has more impact upon student learning than any of the six other factors that they also studied combined. Similarly, as McKinsey and Company concluded in their study on the world’s best schools, “The only way to improve outcomes is to improve instruction.” Because of the findings of these various researchers, Pine City Public Schools has elected to target the area of instruction as its most significant focus. Below are some of the targeted areas of instruction:
AUTHENTIC LITERACY — the ability to read, write, and communicate effectively — belongs at the very top of our list of priorities. There is every reason to believe that these capacities, if acquired across the disciplines, will develop the skills and abilities to a level of college and career readiness.
Student-centered teaching methods shift the focus of activity from the teacher to the learners. These methods include active learning, in which students solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm during class; cooperative learning, in which students work in teams on problems and projects under conditions that assure both positive interdependence and individual accountability; and inductive teaching and learning, in which students are first presented with challenges (questions or problems) and learn the course material in the context of addressing the challenges.
“There is a clear consensus among literacy researchers that accelerating vocabulary growth is a vital. Numerous studies have documented the strong and reciprocal relationship between vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension,” (Stahl & Fairbanks, 1987; Beck et al., 2002: Graves, 2002; Baker et al., 1995) as well as general reading ability.”
4 C's Curriculum
Students that will transition into adult lives over the next 20 years will face significant changes in the types of jobs they will have. It has never been more important for our schools and staff to focus on advanced skills in creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. These skills must be purposefully developed through strategic planning and teaching to ensure the skill acquisition necessary for each and every student.
According to Richard DuFour, working in collaborative teams, that have a shared focus and commitment to the learning of each student, results in not only improved student achievement but also improved instruction. When a school or district functions with a collaborative culture, educators embrace high levels of learning for all students which is why the organization exists and is also the fundamental responsibility of those within it. To achieve this purpose, the members of a collaborative team create and are guided by a clear and compelling vision of what the organization must become in order to help all students learn. They make collective commitments clarifying what each member will do to create such an organization, and they use results-oriented goals to mark their progress. Members work together to clarify exactly what each student must learn, monitor each student’s learning on a timely basis, provide systematic interventions that ensure students receive additional time and support for learning when they struggle, and extend and enrich learning when students have already mastered the intended outcomes.
A growth mindset, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. Teaching is most successful when the teacher believes in the capacity of all people to grow and when the teacher cultivates in the students a belief in their own growth.
When students are given the necessary time and appropriate learning conditions, nearly all students could reach a high level of achievement. The condition that challenges all challenges is the learning rate of students. A guaranteed (essential learning outcomes) and viable (time-based) curriculum allow for the incorporation of mastery learning into classrooms.
Visible Learning was introduced with John Hattie's meta-study Visible Learning. This synthesis of over 800 meta-studies is the result of 15 years' research covering more than 80 million students and bringing together more than 50,000 smaller studies. It is one of the largest collection of evidence-based research about what works best in education. Pine City Schools will take an in-depth review of this research as we implement the highest effect size instructional strategies possible.
This philosophy is not about "what is taught," rather it focuses on "what is learned." This thinking challenges the obstacles of grading, getting through all the material/standards, and not having enough time. Instead, it simply focuses on, did the students demonstrate competency on the skill, concept, or standard of what was taught.
Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can come in one of two ways: positive or negative. Effective feedback is given when on-task, on the process, or on self-regulation level is far more effective than on a self-level, such as praise that contains no learning information. Descriptive feedback is similar to a formative assessment. Hattie emphasizes that the most powerful feedback is that given, is from the student to the teacher. This feedback allows teachers to see learning through the eyes of their students. It makes learning visible and facilitates the planning of next steps. In addition to this, feedback that students receive from their teacher is also vital, for it enables students to progress towards challenging learning intentions and goals.