Virtual School Meanderings

February 9, 2017

Infant and Toddler Care | English Language Learners | Literacy

From yesterday’s inbox…

WestEd E-Bulletin
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Monthly highlights of WestEd’s research, resources, services, and events to help all learners succeed in school and career.

R&D Alert Online

EARLY CHILDHOODEarly Caregiver-Child Relationships Build the Foundation for Lifelong Learning

Learn about relationship-based policies and practices that support high-quality, out-of-home caregiving for infants and toddlers. Read the latest R&D Alert Online article.


LITERACYBuilding Student Capacity to Make Claims and Use Evidence in Their Writing: Webinar, 2/14

New college- and career-readiness standards require students to demonstrate expertise in making claims and using evidence to support those claims in their writing.

Join us for this webinar and learn how to use free resources from the Library of Congress to support student writing. Wednesday, February 15, 3:30-4:45pm (PT).

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSSpring and Summer Institutes: Transforming Schools Through Distributed Leadership

School, district, and county administrators: Join us for one of four two-day professional learning courses on designing a school improvement process that uses distributed leadership to shape a collaborative culture of teaching and learning.

Spring and summer sessions are offered in California and Arizona. Learn more and register.

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSHelping Students Stay on Track and Graduate from High School

Two new REL West resources focus on strategies and tools that support students to stay in school and graduate.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, & MATHEMATICSLearning & Teaching Geometry: Video Cases for Mathematics Professional Development, Grades 6–12

The Learning & Teaching Geometry professional development materials engage teachers in learning about similarity, congruence, and transformations through carefully designed and sequenced video cases presented within the dynamics of classroom practice.

Learn more about this comprehensive resource.

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSEvidence-Based Improvement Strategies: Guide for States and Districts

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages evidence-based decision-making as standard practice. This new guide provides an initial set of tools to help states and school districts understand and plan for implementing evidence-based improvement strategies.

Download your copy of the guide and the six tools for state and local education agencies.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERSQuality Teaching for English Learners Summer Institute, July 10-14, San Francisco

In this week-long training, teachers develop the expertise to challenge and support English learners through a pedagogy of promise.

Experience and understand powerful models of learning that can be turned into practices that scaffold the advancement of 21st century skills and academic development for students.

Register today for the Quality Teaching for English Learners Summer Institute!

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, & MATHEMATICSMaking Sense of SCIENCE: Matter for Teachers of Grades 5-12, Second Edition

These professional learning materials provide everything staff developers and teacher educators need to lead a Making Sense of SCIENCE: Matter Teacher Course, designed to deepen grades 5-12 teachers’ science knowledge in the context of student learning.

Visit the Making Sense of SCIENCE: Matter for Teachers resource page to learn more.

Resource Spotlight

Resource Spotlight

Examining the Diversity Among English Learner Students

Two new REL West briefs synthesize recent research on the heterogeneous population of English learner students, highlighting the need for targeted support and services.

Featured Initiative

Program for Infant/Toddler Care: Ensuring a Safe, Healthy, Emotionally Secure, and Intellectually Rich Start in Life

The Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) is the most widely used training system for infant and toddler caregivers in the United States.

Developed by WestEd and the California Department of Education, PITC provides a comprehensive training system that promotes responsive, caring relationships for infants and toddlers, and employs evidence-based, early education training materials and strategies.

Visit the PITC website to learn more about this initiative.

WestEd 50 Years - Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

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Copyright © 2017 WestEd. All rights reserved WestEd, 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

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January 28, 2017

2017 Summer Professional Learning with McREL

From the inbox a couple of days ago…

Make real changes in teaching, learning, 
and leading outcomes.
Join us in Denver this summer for PD workshops and institutes
to gain insights and best-practice strategies that you can use immediately in your school or district.
Classroom Instruction
That Works® : Workshop
June 19-21, 2017
Learn research-based, practice-proven instructional strategies and ways to implement them in the classroom. Discover how each strategy can be effective with any student, at any grade level, in any subject area, to enhance student achievement. This workshop is well suited for K-12 educators in all subject areas, staff developers, instructional coaches, principals and other school leaders.
Classroom Instruction That Works (CITW): Authorized Facilitator Training
June 19-23, 2017
Dive into McREL’s CITW instructional strategies and learn how to effectively deliver CITW workshops on your own to educators in your district or regional service area. Facilitator training is ideal for district professional development staff, regional education service agency staff, and state- and national-level professional association staff.
Balanced Leadership® Institute
for School-Level Leaders
July 11-14, 2017
Discover the leadership responsibilities that are most strongly connected to student achievement and get practical strategies to develop a purposeful school community, initiate and manage change within your school, and focus on what matters most for your school’s improvement. This institute is designed for principals, assistant principals, new and emerging leaders, principal supervisors, and other district-level leaders.
Register for the entire four-day institute or for the individual days of your choice.
Balanced Leadership Overview | Tuesday, July 11
Managing Change | Wednesday, July 12
The Focus of Leadership | Thursday, July 13
Developing a Purposeful Community | Friday, July 14
District Leadership That Works: Two-Day Institute
July 17-18, 2017
Learn the responsibilities and actions that superintendents, school boards, and central office leaders can take that are most connected to student and staff success. Explore the key principles of high-reliability systems and leave with a map of steps to improve the quality and consistency of instruction within and among your schools. This institute is designed for superintendents, assistant superintendents, school board members, chief academic officers, and other district-level leaders.

Classroom Instruction
That Works®  with English Language Learners: Workshop
July 19-20, 2017
Designed for regular classroom teachers, ELL specialists, and ELL program leaders, this workshop covers the stages of second language acquisition and their instructional implications, academic language development, and strategies for engaging ELL students in regular education classrooms.
Motivate. Lead. Achieve.
High impact professional development for teachers and leaders.
Non-profit education research, development, consulting, and services.
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McREL International
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, Colorado 80237
McREL, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237

January 21, 2017

New year, new opportunities to learn | McREL e-News

A final item today from Thursday’s inbox…

January 2017

New year, new opportunities!
Last year, McREL celebrated 50 years of serving educators around the world. We’re grateful for every opportunity we’ve had to work with educators around the world, and we’re looking forward to the next 50 years of helping teachers, leaders, and students flourish. All the best to you in 2017!
Free 30-minute consultation

Need help planning a new project or ideas for recharging an important initiative? Wondering how to make sense of data or how to better connect action plans to goals? Contact us today for a 30-minute strategic session with one of our expert consultants. No fee, no obligations, just good ideas and inspiration for “quick wins” and “game changers” in your school, district, agency, or system.

Let us know how we can help!

Research Roundup

Executive Function: Implications for education
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences (IES)
A new paper published by the National Center for Education Research (NCER) and the National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER) gives an overview of research on how executive function skills relate to learning. The authors conclude that executive functioning is integral to the academic and social development of students, but that better measurement tools are needed to fully understand the effects of school interventions intended to improve executive function skills.

Teacher Stress and Health: Effects on teachers, students, and schools
The Pennsylvania State University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

This research brief identifies four major causes of teacher stress: school organization (leadership, climate, and culture); job demands; work resources, including support and autonomy in decision-making; and teachers’ personal resources and social-emotional competence. These stressors, according to the report, rival levels experienced by doctors and nurses, and can lead to poor performance by teachers and their students, as well as higher rates of teacher turnover.

School leadership Interventions Under the Every Student Succeeds Act: Evidence review
Rand Corporation

This report from Rand Corporation delves into the evidence base on effective school leadership —- outlining seven specific findings that demonstrate its effect on student achievement —- and presents opportunities provided by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to develop strong, evidence-based, strategic school leadership interventions. Note: In the report, Rand includes McREL’s Balanced Leadership® professional development as an activity that may meet ESSA Tier I evidence standards.

New from McREL

Success Story | Reducing variability leads to achievement gains in large Nebraska district
Lincoln Public Schools, a large and rapidly growing district in Nebraska, was looking to increase the quality and consistency of effective instruction across its schools. Using the research-based instructional strategies of McREL’s Classroom Instruction That Works provided the consistency the district needed and led to better teaching practices and improved student achievement.

Quality questioning is a process that begins with preparing questions to engage all students in thinking and ends in the facilitation of dialogue that deepens learning. This new edition organizes questioning practices around the “6 Ps” framework —- Prepare and Present the Question, Prompt Student Thinking, Process Student Responses, Polish Questioning Practices, and Partner with Students —- and contains significant new research-based practices and insights. Learn more.

Research Matters | What skills do students really need for a global economy?
In the December issue of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, McREL CEO Bryan Goodwin weighs in with the research on how much students can affect their own destinies. “We might wonder how we can help students living with constant reminders of adverse external forces flip the script, so to speak, and see themselves as subjects who can act-not simply be acted upon,” he writes. Read his column.

Blog Post | Higher-order questioning inspires higher-level thinking
Cheryl Abla and Lisa Maxfield offer ideas to inspire higher-level questioning in the classroom, which, they say “can greatly extend classroom conversations and learning.” Read their blog post.

Blog Post | Teachable Life Lessons: Hula hoops® and fishy handshakes
Cheryl Abla shares some powerful, quick classroom exercises that can help students become responsible, respectful, caring adults. Read her blog post.

Events & Opportunities

Twitter Slow Chats

We are hosting a weekly series of slow chats on Twitter and we’d love your participation. Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #McRELchat to share your thoughts and ideas on each week’s theme with other educators:

Jan 16-22 | Accepting and celebrating differences
Our discussion will center around school climate and culture, and ways to build trust in the classroom. How do you promote risk-taking and questioning in your school?

Jan 23-29 | Parent communication and engagement
We’ll discuss ways to help parents and guardians support their students at home. How do you engage with parents and guardians and help them support their students?

Jan 30-Feb 5 | Learning from mistakes
We want to know what you think about effort, perseverance, grit, and mindsets. What mistakes have you learned from and changed? How do you teach and promote effort and grit?

McREL Summer PD Institutes

Registration is now open for our summer professional learning workshops and institutes. Join us in Denver for high-impact sessions that will expand your knowledge and ability to make significant changes in teaching, leading, and learning. You’ll leave each session with research-based, best-practice strategies  strategies you can use immediately to help you —- and your students —- flourish.

Classroom Instruction That Works PD Workshop
Denver, Colo., June 19-21, 2017

Classroom Instruction That Works Authorized Facilitator Training
Denver, Colo., June 19-23, 2017

Balanced Leadership® for School-Level Leaders
Denver, Colo., July 11-14, 2017

District Leadership That Works
Denver, Colo., July 17-18, 2017

Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners
Denver, Colo., July 19-20, 2017

Upcoming Conference

AASA National Conference on Education
New Orleans, Louis., March 2-4
Stop by the AASA exhibit hall at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and visit with McREL at booth #537. Our chief program officer, Dr. Robin Jarvis, will be on hand to share information about school and system improvement services, leadership development, teacher training and coaching, and research and program evaluation services. To set up a specific time to visit with Dr. Jarvis or other McREL staff during the conference, contact Madonna Shafer at or 303.459.5043.
To learn more and register, please visit the  AASA conference website.
Visit our events page or contact McREL to learn more about other upcoming conferences and events.


Life sciences have critical importance to Guam
One of GreenSTEM’s greatest strengths is its relevancy to local issues and students’ lives. Students in Guam are learning that life sciences have critical importance to their local challenges. Read about our work in this story from KUAM News.
McREL: Helping educators flourish
“With more consistency across classrooms, 
the quality of instruction and achievement have gone up.”
Sarah Salem, Director, Continuous Improvement and Professional Learning,
Lincoln Public Schools, Nebraska
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4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80237
Copyright © 2017, McREL International. All Rights Reserved.

McREL International, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237

January 19, 2017

Early Childhood | Digital Learning | Community College Success

From yesterday’s inbox…

WestEd E-Bulletin
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Monthly highlights of WestEd’s research, resources, services, and events to help all learners succeed in school and career.

R&D Alert Online

AGENCY NEWS2016’s Top 5 R&D Alert Articles

Which topics did R&D Alert readers find most compelling in 2016? Take a look at our top five articles from the past 12 months:

  1. Helping English Learners Rise to the Challenge of Complex Texts
  2. Empowering Families to Improve Student Learning
  3. Formative Assessment Course Helps Transform Teaching and Learning
  4. Restorative Justice: An Alternative to Traditional Punishment
  5. Research Helps Target Support for Students with Disabilities

Stay tuned this year for articles on infant/toddler care, education technology, effective leadership, and more!

TEACHERS & LEADERSLeading Professional Learning: A Simulation Game for Educators

This fun simulation game engages educators in building a strong school faculty focused on providing the best environment for student learning.

In a non-competitive environment, players take on the role of a professional learning leadership team tasked with planning and leading change in their school.

Visit the Leading Professional Learning resource page to learn more and to order a copy.

SCHOOLS, DISTRICTS, & STATE EDUCATION SYSTEMSWhen Dropouts Return to School: New Research Report

A new REL West report looks at the characteristics and education outcomes of Utah students who dropped out and then returned to high school.

Learn about students seeking a second chance to earn their diplomas.

POSTSECONDARY & CAREERAcademic Planning in Community College: New Research Report

A new REL West study investigates the impact of technology-based counseling interventions — coupled with targeted nudges and guaranteed access to counseling sessions — on community college student outcomes.

Read the key findings and download the report.

LITERACYBuilding Literacy in Middle and High School: Online Professional Learning Opportunities

Register for these upcoming webinars focused on building literacy in middle and high school.

TEACHERS & LEADERSCalifornia Teacher Retirements Over the Next Decade: New Research Report

A new study projects one quarter of California teachers will retire by 2024, suggesting careful local workforce planning will be critical for schools and districts.

Read about teacher retirement projections across California’s 58 counties.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, & MATHEMATICSSupporting Effective STEM Teaching and Learning

With a focus on high-quality teaching and learning across all STEM subjects, WestEd conducts research and evaluation studies; provides coaching and other professional learning opportunities; and more.

Visit our Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics page to learn about WestEd services, research, and resources.


This six-minute video illustrates the need for babies, once born, to be cared for in a “social womb” that provides the nurturance, protection, and enrichment essential to the healthy development of their still-growing brains.

Watch in English.

Watch in Spanish.

Resource Spotlight

Resource Spotlight

2016 Top Downloads: Early Childhood, Family Engagement, English Learners

Check out 2016’s top downloads, with education topics ranging from improving infant/toddler care and family engagement to leadership development and restorative justice.

Featured Initiative

Featured Initiative

Ready To Learn: Improving Early Learning and School Readiness Through Digital Media

The Ready To Learn (RTL) initiative supports the development of educational digital media for preschool and early elementary school children and their families, with a focus on children from low-income families — a population less likely to be ready for kindergarten.

WestEd conducts extensive research on and evaluation of RTL digital content, including:

  • Formative evaluations
  • Technical needs assessments
  • Impact studies

Visit the Ready To Learn website for more information about this federally funded initiative.

WestEd 50 Years - Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence

Follow Us: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Visit us online at

Copyright © 2017 WestEd. All rights reserved WestEd, 730 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

January 13, 2017

Success Story | Focus On Instructional Consistency Leads To Student Gains

From Wednesday’s inbox…

Success Story: Focusing on instructional quality and consistency improves student outcomes
Contact us for a free, 30-minute, no obligation consultation
to get ideas and inspiration for “quick wins” and “game changers” in your district.
Additional Resources

Motivate. Lead. Achieve.
Celebrating fifty years of helping students and educators flourish.
Non-profit education research, development, consulting, and services.
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our profile on LinkedIn View our videos on YouTube
McREL International
4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500
Denver, Colorado 80237
McREL, 4601 DTC Blvd., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80237
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