Best Practices Blog

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

What It Really Takes to Inspire Students to Perform Well (It’s Not Test Scores)

You don’t have to make a choice between doing well in standard test scores and having kids doing brilliant, beautiful work that inspires others. That’s a false choice.

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Illuminating Standards—One Piece of Student Work at a Time

Education Week’s Learning Deeply blog featured posts by Expeditionary Learning (EL) and its partners at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). This piece by Steve Seidel, Bauman and Bryant Senior Lecturer in the Arts in Education at HGSE, focuses on a unique film festival that showcased the impressive student work being done in American K-12 public schools along with the voices of young people and/or their teachers talking about what they did to create that work and what they learned in the process. The films were created by HGSE students as part of their class "Models of Excellence – Illuminating Standards and Inspiring Learning with Outstanding Classroom Work" led by Seidel and Ron Berger, EL’s Chief Academic Officer.

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Catching Fire: Models of Student Work Can Spark a Chain Reaction of Deeper Learning

Education Week’s Learning Deeply blog featured posts by Expeditionary Learning (EL) and its partners. This piece by Wilhelmina Peragine, a Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), discusses how one exemplar EL student project at Four Rivers Charter Public School inspired the creation of high quality work in two other EL schools: King Middle School and Polaris Charter Academy.

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Models of Excellence: Ron Berger Explores What Standards Really Look Like

In this recent post featured on Ed Week's Learning Deeply blog, Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer at EL explores what it means to meet educational standards with beautiful, quality student work.

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A Good Reading Lesson Doesn't 'Put Standards Before Students'

In this edition of Classroom Q & A with Larry Ferlazzo, Cheryl Dobbertin, Program Director of EL's Teacher Potential Project, responds to the question "What are good examples of reading lessons aligned to Common Core standards?"

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The Learning Our Teachers Deserve

In this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post, Expeditionary Learning President and CEO Scott Hartl outlines a vision for challenging, motivating and effective professional learning for our educators. 

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Culture First: Setting the Table for Deeper Learning

Authored by Principal Stephen Mahoney of EL Mentor School The Springfield Renaissance School, this Education Week Learning Deeply blog speaks to the seemingly minor details that make a school run and the drive toward authentic student-centered learning, that when combined in a balanced way, result in a strong school culture.   

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Would You Know Deeper Learning If You Saw It?

Libby Woodfin, EL's Director of Publications, offers educators expert advice on how to identify and encourage deeper learning practices in this Education Week Learning Deeply blog post.

It's not as easy as you might think. Teachers have many tools at their disposal that can facilitate deeper learning--long-term projects, hands-on activities, and, often, new technologies. You'll often find find deeper learning in that context, but not always. You also may find deeper learning in the context of a more traditional classroom environment. In the end, it's not about any particular tool or "shiny object." It's about the fundamental daily instructional choices teachers make to challenge, engage, and empower their students.

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What If Assessment Was Used to Elevate Learning Rather than to Rank Students?

Chief Academic Officer Ron Berger writes about student-engaged assessment on the Teaching Channel's blog. 

Imagine you are the coach of your daughter’s soccer team. Assessment would be important to you. You would hope that each of your players would have a clear sense of what she does well, what she needs to work on, and a commitment to improvement. It’s doubtful you would regularly give each girl a written test to determine her value as a player, and then sort each player into proficient, needs improvement, and failing categories.

Just as good soccer coaches do, teachers must help their students gain a clear sense of — and high standards for — what they do well, what they need to work on, and how to improve. The most important assessment that takes place in any school is not the end-of-year test; it is the assessment that is going on all day long in the mind of every student. Each student is continually assessing his or her attitude, behavior, understanding, and work — “Is this piece good enough to turn in?” “Do I actually understand this concept?”

Read more here.