Quality instruction is often described as being rigorous, student-centered, and active, but bringing those concepts to life is not always easy for educators. EDC is working with an award-winning filmmaker and production company to create a tool kit that will use video to model strategies that teachers and school leaders can implement in their schools.
The professional development tool kit, Success at the Core: How Middle School Leadership Teams and Teachers Transform Instruction, is designed for teachers as well as administrators, department heads, and teacher coaches. The tool kit includes a keynote video and modules for the development of both teachers and leadership teams.
“Success at the Core is aimed at middle school because the biggest dip in achievement is during the transition from elementary school. Middle school achievement is an important predictor for high school performance,” says EDC’s Barbara Miller. “In addition, it is at the middle school level that we begin to see distinctive leadership teams and people in departments.”
The tool kit includes strategies to improve quality instruction for math, science, and English. “Assessments should be authentic and student-centered—the tool kit provides video clips of what this looks like, as well as lesson plans and classroom artifacts,” explains Miller. “Teachers can get a broad view of what a quality assessment looks like and identify the individual pieces they need. The examples are available in all three subject areas, so teachers can see materials in their content area and common elements of quality instruction across content areas.”
For leadership teams, the tool kit offers seven 120-minute leadership development modules that contain video stories, a facilitation guide, and additional resources. The videos portray leadership teams working to improve instruction, include interviews and classroom footage, and show the end results of quality instruction.
“There are not many materials designed for leaders who are often charged with improving instruction, implementing school improvement plans, and making decisions on professional development,” says Miller. “Most schools have leadership teams. However, many flounder because they lack the tools and direction to be effective. Our materials speak to the issues they face and build their capacity to advocate for effective instruction.”
The footage used in the videos comes from six diverse Washington state middle schools that were already in the process of implementing effective leadership teams. The tool kit will be piloted in 12 Washington state schools during the 2009–2010 school year and, if successful, will be made available online free of charge.
Success at the Core is funded by Vulcan Productions and is being developed in partnership with Vulcan Productions and Woody Creek Productions. “We are working with professional documentary filmmakers, so the quality of the videos is great. There are few resources of this quantity and quality available for free,” says Miller.
Vulcan Productions is the Seattle-based independent production company of Paul G. Allen, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft. Their films and documentaries have been nominated for five Academy Awards and have won Emmy, Peabody, Humanitas, Independent Spirit, and DuPont-Columbia awards.
Ward Serrill of Woody Creek Productions, who produces video for the toolkit, has been nominated for the Best Documentary Screenplay by the Writer’s Guild of America. His film Heart of the Game won the Billie Award for Best Entertainment by the Women Sports Foundation.
Originally published on April 17, 2009