Best Practices Blog

This blog features the best commentary, sample learning expeditions, and research from across our network of educators

The Courage to Be College-Bound

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 5th, 2014, Deidre Cuffee-Gray, Guidance and Counseling Department Chair at EL Mentor School Springfield Renaissance School, and EL Director of Publications Libby Woodfin explore a number of ways in which high schools can instill the concepts of "college-bound" and "100% college acceptance as a standard" in students from day one. 

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Intellectual Courage: Making Professional Learning Matter

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 5th, 2014, Cheryl Dobbertin, Director of the Teacher Potential Project at Expeditionary Learning, highlights the importance of intellectual courage not only among students, but among their teachers as well.

Imagine this scene. Several students are huddled up over a workspace, taking steps to solve a real world problem. They are questioning, probing each other's thinking, seeking resources, and using feedback to check their understanding and refine their approach. Is this a high school physics class? Nope, it's a professional development session.

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Is Intellectual Courage the Key to Great Teaching?

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post that appeared on November 3, 2014, Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger highlights the importance of intellectual courage not only among students, but among teachers as well.

In Washington, D.C., there is a school, Two Rivers Public Charter School, with a waiting list of over 2,000 families. In addition to having a school culture that celebrates inquiry, and joy in learning, Two Rivers also has remarkable academic results. Math achievement in 2013 was 24 percent above state average, and in every grade from kindergarten through eighth, math scores are strong and have shown consistent and significant growth.

What's going on here? Does this school have a knack for finding and recruiting math-smart teachers, or are they doing something different with the teachers they have - tapping into something new and powerful?

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The Three Dimensions of Student Achievement

In his latest post featured on Education Week's Learning Deeply blog, Ron Berger writes that a three-dimensional view is needed in education today - joining test scores to high-quality student work and character. "This single change could be transformational for education in the U.S.: students and schools would be accountable for the things that actually matter in the world. 'High-achieving' would now mean 'the kind of school I want my kids to attend to prepare them for a great life,' rather than 'a school that currently has good test scores'." READ MORE

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A Live Lesson in 21st Century Citizenship

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills P21 Blogazine featured an Capital City Public Charter School expedition focusing on homelessness led by teachers Simmons Hanson and Lisa Morenoff. Third and fourth grade students noted that the "code of character" for their school compelled them to respect and care for everyone, but this didn't seem to apply to the homeless. The project became a live lesson in 21st century citizenship, resulting in a book about the lives of homeless people in Washington, D.C. that the students shared with President Obama. Read the blog here. 

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What I Want To Be, My Whole Life

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post, Dina Strasser, a 7th grade English teacher and member of the Expeditionary Learning network, tells the story of Samantha Davis, an 8th grader at Evergreen Community Charter School in Asheville, NC.  Samantha's experience illustrates that deeper learning is not just a theory of education: it is a practice, related to even the most deeply personal-- and literal-- issues of vision. READ MORE

Practical Passion

Cyndi Gueswel, Director of Program Resources, writes about "practical passion" in a piece featured on Education Week's Learning Deeply blog.  She tells the story of Mary Carlson, who is graduating from college with a drive to make a difference in the world, combined with knowledge, skills, and confidence.  READ MORE

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Students Learn by Making "Stuff"

In an Education Week Learning Deeply blog post, School Designer Anne Vilen writes about the value of “a teacher’s expectation that students make something real for a real audience" and its transformative power to inspire curiosity and determination.  READ MORE

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My View: Preparing students to do more than they think possible

An editorial by Scott Hartl, president and CEO of Expeditionary Learning, appeared on May 9th, 2014 in the Times Herald-Record, which serves communities in the Hudson Valley/Catskills area in New York.

The Common Core sets the criteria for learning to ensure that students are well prepared when they go to college and choose a career. Yes, the standards are hard, but they are clear about how we want students to be better thinkers, readers and writers. Erin Daly, a fifth-grade teacher at P.S. 36 in the South Bronx is seeing results in working with the curricular resources on "All of my students have moved at least two reading levels so far this year, and some as many as four."

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Getting Off the Train in Italy

In Education Week's Learning Deeply blog, Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger emphasizes the importance of exploring ideas in depth through a story about his parents' trip to Europe.  "Schools and classrooms that embrace Deeper Learning take seriously the idea that for learning to stick, students must have opportunities to engage intently in content and concepts. They must eat a real Italian meal in an extended evening in a sidewalk café, discussing life with local people, instead of grabbing a slice of pizza and a soda on the run." Read more here. 

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