Virtual School Meanderings

April 29, 2021

Books & Online Resources for Teachers and School Leaders

More resources from one of the RELs.

Professional Learning Resources for Teachers and School Leaders
Books & Online Courses
Whether you’re teaching online or in person (or both), high-quality, research-backed strategies can help engage your students, spark their curiosity, and deepen their learning. We’re here to help with books and professional development resources that supplement your expertise.
Books for Educators
evidence-based insights plus practical tips and strategies
Tools for Classroom Instruction That Works
Ready-to-Use Techniques for Increasing Student Achievement
Deepen student learning with these ready-made, award-winning activities. Check out this free download with selected examples of the 50+ research-based tools cited in the book.
Seven Simple Shifts That Can Substantially Improve Student Learning
Transform your classroom learning climate in just a few seconds. Use these 7 easy-to-use shifts in your teaching to boost student engagement, minimize distractions & improve instructional clarity.
Self-reflection is one of the most powerful habits a teacher can develop. This guided journal will help you chronicle which classroom practices are going great, which could be improved, and how you’re growing and changing along the way.
A Brain-Based Model for K-12 Instructional Design and Delivery
Combining key insights from cognitive and learning sciences, this book shows how to design and sequence lessons in a way that will challenge, inspire, and engage your students. Learn to teach with more intentionality—understanding not just what to do but also when and why to do it.
Online Courses for
Teachers and School Leaders
self-paced, on-demand professional learning
Visit mcrel.org/learn-online to explore our highly rated online PD courses for teachers and school leaders.
Quick Courses
Cost & time effective solutions for educators
  • Creating the Environment for Learning
  • Managing Change
  • Monitoring Implementation of School Initiatives
  • Developing Collective Efficacy
In-Depth Courses
Certificate of PD hours available upon course completion
  • Quality Questioning for Student Learning
  • Learning That Sticks: A Brain-Based Model for Teaching & Learning
  • Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners
  • Nurturing a Positive Learning Environment
Build your school’s capacity to impact student learning with professional learning support from McREL.
– – –
Online, Onsite & Hybrid Services Available
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
© McREL International. All rights reserved.
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237

April 24, 2021

Changing Schools | April newsletter

Note a couple e-learning items below.

April 2021
Assessing Ed-Tech Means Knowing Your Students
Much of the federal money flowing to districts for next school year is likely to be spent on educational technology. The Every Student Succeeds Act helps ensure such products have evidence backing them, but that doesn’t mean all products are right for all students in all schools. In this issue, McREL ed-tech expert Faith Connolly proposes some questions that educators and ed-tech developers should ask one another before committing to a purchase.
Bryan Goodwin, CEO, McREL International
New From McREL
How Educators and Ed-Tech Developers Can Be Better Partners
Educators and ed-tech developers want the same thing: student success. But they have different kinds of experience and don’t always use the same terminology. McREL ed-tech expert Faith Connolly explains how the two sides can join forces to select the best interventions for the unique goals of any school.
McREL Expands Presence in Pacific Region
McREL has added two satellite offices and four regional advisers in the Pacific region, where we already do extensive work based out of our Honolulu office.
The new advisers will conduct local needs sensing and contextualization of McREL’s services, and will deliver training, coaching, and technical support services to teachers, principals, school system leaders, and other stakeholders. They are Bale Theresa Koula Koroivulaono of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Janet Ebil Orrukem and Sinton Soalablai of the Republic of Palau, and Leo Pangelinan of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“With four advisers on the ground, McREL will truly be at home in the region,” McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin said.
The new offices will be located in Palau High School and in Joeten-Kyu Public Library on Saipan.
What Does It Mean to “Use” Data?
Educators are often advised to use data to guide decision-making, but with so much data to choose from and so many decisions to be made, it can be hard to zero in on the right data and analysis method for the task at hand. Our colleagues at REL Pacific provide definitions and examples in a new infographic, “Five Steps to Structuring Data-Informed Conversations and Action in Education.”
Texas Educators Get Access to Customized E-Learning PD Sessions
Educators throughout Texas can get continuing education credits by taking McREL professional learning courses that have been customized to align with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and English Language Proficiency Standards.
In a partnership between McREL and Education Service Center 13, three courses have gone live on the Region 13 E-Campus platform:
  • Six-Phase Model for Student Learning That Sticks
  • Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners
  • Quality Questioning for Student Learning
“This collaboration brings top-quality learning within reach by making it available on a platform that’s already familiar in our state,” said Dr. Rich Elsasser, executive director of ESC Region 13 and a McREL board member.
McREL Authors Examine Perceptions of Administrators Among Students of Color
Students of Color at historically Black colleges and Students of Color at predominantly White colleges saw things a little differently when their administrators started making adjustments for the pandemic, Tameka Porter and Samantha E. Holquist write in a special issue of The Journal of Higher Education Management.
Students at the largely Black schools tended to view the administrators as sincere when they offered options for continuing in school. Those at largely White schools, by contrast, were likelier to view their administrators’ outreach as gimmicky or PR-oriented. The authors write that they hope these findings will contribute to an understanding of culturally responsive communication and decision-making.
Research Roundup
A selection of research news that ties into our work on leadership, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning here at McREL.
International study supports growth mindset. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducts a big global assessment of 15-year-old students every two years, and they’ve just released a report on the 2018 assessment focusing on growth mindset, “the belief that one’s skills and qualities can be cultivated through effort, good strategies, and support from others, as opposed to a fixed mindset that supposes them to be determined at birth.”
The report says growth mindset interventions could help students succeed as countries around the world break away from rigid, government-mandated curricula and testing in favor of helping students become “independent, lifelong and life-wide learners.” While “not a silver bullet for improving student performance,” OECD said, growth vs. fixed mindset may explain “why certain students thrive when facing adversity while others languish.”
Finding the right balance in instructional leadership. Principals are encouraged to be instructional leaders, but how do they find the right balance between pedagogical knowledge and leadership knowledge? A new study of Israeli principals tips the scales a bit toward general pedagogical knowledge—a finding that will be of interest to those familiar with McREL’s Balanced Leadership® program, which is being bolstered with findings from our What Matters Most framework for effective instruction . . . more details coming soon!
Digging into Minecraft’s benefits. If you suspect certain students spent much of the pandemic playing Minecraft, maybe they weren’t goofing off but sending a message to the world’s curriculum designers that game-based education needs to step up its game. Minecraft does indeed have several features that could be adapted for educational use, according to an international research team that included a Boise, Idaho, high school student.
Read the study in Computers in the Schools.
WE’RE HIRING!
As a growing organization, we’re expanding our team of educators, researchers, project managers, and communicators to provide supports and services to more schools, districts, and education agencies. Interested in joining our team? Check out this current opening on the McREL careers page:
  • Research Director (Honolulu)
CONTACT US TODAY
Learn more about how our coaching, professional learning, and analysis services can help your school or system reach its goals.
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237

March 26, 2021

Changing Schools | March newsletter

This REL newsletter may be of interest to some readers.

March 2021
Planning Season Kicks Into High Gear
This year, it’s more important than ever for principals to plan ahead. The 2021-22 North American school year may seem ages away, but with pandemic-related policies shifting so frequently, multiple contingencies related to hiring, professional development, technology purchases, curricular materials, and instructional interventions should already be taking shape.
In this issue, school improvement expert and former principal Dr. Kent Davis shares his top tips for school leaders to set the stage for success, and Tonia Gibson, a McREL managing consultant and also a former principal, explains how leaders can establish a school climate that encourages curiosity in teachers and students. Also check out our Research Roundup for recent academic work on school leadership.
Bryan Goodwin, CEO, McREL International
New From McREL
How (and Why) Principals Can Prepare Now for 2021-22
Dr. Kent Davis, McREL’s associate director of learning services, learned a valuable lesson as a new principal: Your school year begins three months before everybody else’s. Now, with all the pandemic-related changes principals have to navigate, Kent says many aspects of the school year should be in the works six months out.
How Principals Can Build Curiosity Into School Climate
Curiosity and its many benefits are in short supply in many schools, especially in the older grades, with consequences ranging from student disengagement to, eventually, a poorer and less healthy life. Principals love the idea of infusing curiosity into their school, but is this really something a leader can influence? Definitely! Tonia Gibson shares ideas from Building a Curious School.
Foundation Report Makes It Clear: Principals Matter
An idea that McREL helped to popularize in 2005—that principals can and should be instructional leaders—is now widely accepted. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. McREL’s Drs. Kristin Rouleau and Kent Davis summarize a recent foundation report on school leadership and introduce some new ways of thinking about professional learning for school leaders, all aimed to better integrate principals with the work getting done in classrooms.
McREL’s Emphasis on Customization Shines in the Pacific Region
The Pacific Islands loom large in McREL’s school improvement work. Several jurisdictions have invited us to co-create professional learning, coaching, consulting, and analysis solutions geared to their unique needs. In this Success Story, learn how education departments in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of Palau achieved their goals.
Infographic Introduces Teachers to Pacific Islanders
A new infographic series from REL Pacific is meant to facilitate greater awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the diversity of cultures and experiences of Pacific Island students, both inside and outside the classroom. The first infographic in the series provides an overview of the Compacts of Free Association, including the historical and current social and political context necessary to understand some of the experiences of Pacific Island students in U.S. schools.
Check Our Updated Products & Services Catalog
2021 Spring Catalog Cover
The McREL Products and Services Catalog has been refreshed for the spring. Learn about the many ways McREL helps state departments, education service areas, districts, and individual schools to thrive through change.
Research Roundup
A selection of research news that ties into our work on leadership, instruction, school improvement, and professional learning here at McREL.
Delving deeper into principals’ influence. The link between principals’ actions and student learning is so well established that it’s time to move past “whether” and focus on “how,” according to a U.S.-Canadian team writing in Educational Administration Quarterly. Analyzing four ways that principals can reach students, the authors found that collective teacher efficacy (CTE) had the highest correlation with student success. They defined CTE as “the level of confidence a group exudes in its capacity to organize and execute the tasks required to reach desired goals.” Read the article in Educational Administration Quarterly.
How district leaders make decisions. Student data is hardly the only factor that influences how school district leaders make decisions, according to a new paper in the American Educational Research Journal. Class, race, and language also influence how they identify problems and solutions. The more controversial the policy, the likelier leaders are to invoke real-world stories to persuade one another, the researchers found. To make their observations, the researchers gained access to hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes meetings that the public isn’t usually privy to at a midsized urban California district. Read the article in the American Educational Research Journal.
Protecting principals’ well-being. Stress is the inevitable result as principals gain responsibilities but lose decision-making autonomy, says a study of Australian and Irish principals in Educational Management Administration & Leadership. Social capital, a complex web of relationships, can help principals thrive if it leads to trusting working partnerships and shared goals and values. Principals’ long work hours can make it hard to form networks, but doing so, within the school and in the broader community, makes it “easier to find support and face the increasing demands that negatively impact their well-being.” Read the article in Educational Management Administration & Leadership.
Project-based learning gets multiple votes of confidence. The George Lucas Educational Foundation announced the publication of four studies that supported the use of project-based learning (PBL) in all grade levels. In addition to being a great way for students to build curiosity and capacity, PBL can help to address pandemic-related learning loss, the foundation said. Read the foundation’s press release, which contains links to the studies.
WE’RE HIRING!
As a growing organization, we’re expanding our team of educators, researchers, project managers, and communicators to provide supports and services to more schools, districts, and education agencies. Interested in joining our team? Check out this current opening on the McREL careers page:
  • Research Director (Honolulu)
CONTACT US TODAY
Learn more about how our coaching, professional learning, and analysis services can help your school or system reach its goals.
McREL International
P 800.858.6830 | F 303.337.3005
McREL International | 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500Denver, CO 80237

March 12, 2021

REL Webinar: Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19

This webinar may be of interest to some readers.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19

Join REL Southwest, REL Appalachia, REL Mid-Atlantic, and REL Northeast & Islands for a webinar on how states, districts, and schools are rethinking data in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants will:

  • Explore examples of how state and local education agencies are using data differently to inform district and school improvement, accountability, and support during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Discuss new instructional and social-emotional needs that have emerged and how states and districts are using data to identify and respond to these needs
  • Discuss lessons learned about using data differently, as well as thoughts about changes in practice moving forward

This webinar is designed for a broad national audience of educators and education leaders at the state and local levels. If you cannot attend the live event, register at the link below to be notified when the webinar archive is available online.

Rethinking Data for Improvement, Accountability, and Support Under COVID-19
March 18, 2021
3:00–4:00 p.m. ET
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).

March 10, 2021

REL Webinar: Joyful Reading at School and at Home

Note this up-coming webinar.

 Institute of Education Sciences

REL Webinar: Joyful Reading at School and at Home

Join REL West for the next webinar in their series of free events focused on a routine for storybook reading and ideas for home-family connections. During this webinar participants will learn about:

  • Moving from a joyful reading routine to creative expression activities
  • Evidence on the relationship between creativity and language and literacy development
  • How to integrate creative activities into their own practice, in partnership with families and caregivers

Presenters will include administrators from two schools in Fresno Unified School District and San Diego Unified School District. This event is intended for preK, kindergarten, and first grade teachers; principals; coaches; district staff; and staff developers.

Joyful Reading at School and at Home: Creative Expression Activities
March 25, 2021
2:00–3:30 p.m. PT
Register here

*****

The Regional Educational Laboratories (RELs) build the capacity of educators to use data and research to improve student outcomes. Each REL responds to needs identified in its region and makes learning opportunities and other resources available to educators throughout the United States. The REL program is a part of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) in the U.S. Department of Education. To receive regular updates on REL work, including events and reports, follow IES on Facebook and Twitter. To provide feedback on this or other REL work, email Contact.IES@ed.gov.

The Institute of Education Sciences, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the nation’s leading source for rigorous, independent education research, evaluation and statistics.
IES Research on Facebook IES Research on Twitter
By visiting Newsflash you may also sign up to receive information from IES and its four Centers NCESNCERNCEE, & NCSER to stay abreast of all activities within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).
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