12 August 2014

Kentucky and Colorado Teachers Collaborate to Create Units of Study with LDC Modules Embedded Within

Seattle, Washington
From Seattle to Colorado to right here in Kentucky the collaborative spirit has been an important  productive struggle for teachers and partners participating in the Common Assignment Study (CAS). In the CAS, Kentucky and Colorado teachers continue to lead the way with the implementation of new standards in both states.  For the past year, teachers from Kentucky and Colorado have been collaborating to create units of study containing embedded Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) modules.  Hundreds of students in each state have been impacted by these high quality units, and dozens of teachers have learned from one another about what makes an effective unit and what quality student work looks like.

This summer we expanded our participation from 24 Kentucky teachers to 64 from five different Kentucky districts. Colorado has similar numbers of teachers from multiple districts participating in the study. To launch the expansion, The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky hosted Colorado educators and all our CAS partners twice this summer. We held the first session in northern Kentucky at Dixie Heights High School in late June. High School English Language Arts teachers and middle school history teachers joined forces to revise the units they implemented in 2013-2014 based on the results of student work they analyzed together using CAS partner created protocols. Joining us at this work session were school and district leaders from participating sites because we continue to learn the importance of school and district leadership with ensuring successful implementation. The leaders need to hear from teachers about what they need (time is always a big one) for collaborating with colleagues.
My son running XC on beautiful day in Lexington, KY

Our second session, in mid-July, was held in Lexington at Edith J. Hayes Middle School, and included a larger group of high school social studies, middle school English language arts, and both middle and high school science. Following the same protocols used at the June convening, teachers again worked to refine lessons and collaborate with teachers experienced in the CAS project and teachers joining new for the first time this year. This intentional design allowed teachers new to the project this year to work collaboratively with teachers who created the initial units last summer. This approach, though not easy, encouraged the newly joining teachers to take equal ownership of the units they will teach in 2014-2015.

As The Fund's Initiative Director for this project, one of my favorite parts is the equal focus on process and product. Yes, we're working to create units, rubrics, and protocols, but we are also experimenting with collaborative processes across school, district, and state lines. I'm not alone in thinking collaboration is a valuable part of our Common Assignment Study.  When asked what they liked about the collaborative process at the summer convenings, here's what we heard from some of the teachers...

"collaborative efforts of a lot of great minds"

"I liked that we came from different backgrounds"

"multiple perspectives"

"Collaboration was streamlined, and everyone was more comfortable speaking up"

"Again, collaboration with like minded experts always leads to new and productive ideas.  I always get better with my craft when surrounded by comrades."
Loveland, Colorado

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Other posts about this project by me & by others

Common Assignment Study Gears Up for Second Year

Online Tools for Collaborating Across States

Common Assignment Study Post 1

Bridging the Digital Divide in Classrooms by Brison Harvey

Introducing Common Assignment Study  A three part post by Brison Harvey

A Storify all about the HS English Spring Unit by Colorado Teacher, Danny Holloweg