EDU6978: Week 08: Due 2012-08-19


What has been most impactful for you from this course?

The most impactful for me was the blending of embedded formative assessment, project-based learning, and STEM resources.  I honestly feel after doing night after night of tangential research to the course, that this course should be taught first in the sequence and not last.  There was so much here, and solid gold for a teacher-in-training.

I also have really appreciated the creativity and heart of my classmates, they have been an inspiration in so many ways, and I hope to keep up with them after we complete this course.

What will most impact your teaching from this course?

I resonate deeply with project-based learning.  I also resonate with formative assessment.  I will practice those in my classrooms.  They make good sense.

I also have used many of the resources from the course to accrue more resources on STEM education.  I think our instructors did a great job of weaving in their own experiences and favorite resources.

Help us know what changed in your philosophy?

I think what changed the most in my philosophy was some classroom dynamics, like getting students to help each other, and not giving grades on homework (since they demotivate) to being more of a coach.  But a close second to that is my new appreciation for the common core state standards in math.  I now see that they are next wave and that science and math teachers like myself need to get on those waves sooner rather than later.  The impact of shared standards is going to be huge. 


(Verbatim from source unless italic)

STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities (Fulton & Britton, 2011)

This report is a synthesis of a bigger study.

Full Report

Condensed Excerpts


Box 1…six principles that make a learning community effective.

Box 2 Methodology
Box 3 Findings
Online PLCs Are a Growing Phenomenon [Excerpt]
Box 4.  Examples of STEM Organization Support for PLCs

From Brutal Facts to Best Schools with Mike Schmoker (SCOE, 2007)

“We are on the verge of the greatest age in education, if we would just do the things that we already know work”.  Mike Schmoker.


  • “brutal facts”:  Students are mired in what Schmoker calls the crayola curriculum—busy work tangentially related to the curriculum that consumes an enormous amount of instructional time, time that students could otherwise spend engaged in analytical reading and discussion or completing writing and mathematics assignments.
  • Researchers have found that on any given day in any classroom across America what you are least likely to see is reading, writing, and discussion
  • Yet, Schmoker claims that these brutal facts offer us a way out of our current situation.
  • The first step is to break down the barrier of teacher isolation. He suggests that teachers be organized into groups known as Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) based on grade level or content area.
  • A key role of teacher-based PLCs is to ensure that a guaranteed and viable curriculum is implemented, says Schmoker.
  • Next, by agreeing on and using common assessments, they can analyze the results of instruction and pinpoint student weaknesses.
  • Example:  math or english teachers re-teaching lessons in different ways to improve learning.
  • Schmoker advises administrators, working in partnership with teacher leaders, to conduct at least one short, unannounced walk-through in each classroom on a monthly basis.
  • When teachers meet as PLCs, their discussions must be centered on teaching and learning, not logistics.
  • Administrators should monitor PLC meetings to track their progress.
  • Finally, small wins should be recognized and celebrated.
  • Ultimately, Schmoker believes that schools must redefine literacy instruction across the curriculum. “It is the ability to read well that is the single best indicator of future economic success,” he says. “The crayola curriculum of dioramas, illustrated posters, and mobiles must be left behind so that students can engage in authentic literacy.”
  • He defines authentic literacy as analytical reading, persuasive writing, and
  • “We are not even scratching the surface of our potential,” he said. “Imagine if we could just put these simple ideas in place—targeted teamwork, measurable goals, guaranteed and viable curriculum, and radical changes to literacy instruction. We could change the face of education. The results would be stunning.

[Sidebar:  Format:  For a teacher meeting]


Cultural Shifts in A Professional Learning Community (Learning by Doing, 2010)


Designing Integrated Curriculum (BIEPBL, 2010)

Learn about one team’s process for developing an integrated forensic project that meets state standards of various subject areas’ curriculum units

I loved seeing these educators grappling with other content standards.  Nothing but good can come of teachers learning what targets other teachers need to meet and seeking to mesh those effectively. and

I am, I have yet to explore it as a resource for PBL, but I did try to take a course on, but wound up dropping out since I couldn’t meet the time commitment this summer.





Buck Institute for Education. (2010).  Designing Integrated Curriculum. [Video]  Retrieved August 19, 2012 from

Fulton, K. & Britton, T. (2011).  STEM Teachers in Professional Learning Communities:  From Good Teachers to Great Teaching.  Washington, DC:  National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.  Retrieved August 19, 2012 from

Learning by Doing. (2010).  Cultural Shifts in a Professional Learning Community.  Solution-Tree Press.  Retrieved August 19, 2012 from

Sonoma County Office of Education [SCOE]. (2007, October).  Seeing Results:  From ‘Brutal Facts’ to Best Schools with Mike Schmoker.  Bulletin.  Santa Rosa, CA:  SCOE.  Retrieved August 19, 2012 from


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