Puzzle of Practice

As a school community, we have worked to center teacher clarity within our Project Based Learning Model that integrates ELA and Social Studies. We have invested time and resources in professional development opportunities that deepen our understanding of grade level standards and increased the level of rigor in our units of study.

Our problem of practice was focused on the inconsistencies of instructional practices and beliefs across our school community.

Collective Goal

The goal was to create systems and structures that provided clarity for all staff members. It was also our goal to create a shared vision of our project based beliefs grounded in rich content and rigorous standards aligned learning experiences.

Collective Action

Schoolwide expectations were collaboratively set with support from the Instructional Leadership team.

As a result of visioning activities, we aligned resources to secure professional development opportunities with experts in the field.

  • We worked with Michael McDowell’s team on the writing portion of our units of study. Kelley Miller helped teacher teams align lessons and units to writing standards. She also supported teams with protocols and assessment practices.
  • We worked with Michael to enhance our unit structure in order to increase the level of clarity in Reading, Writing, and Social Studies. Units of study now highlight the importance of surface, deep, and transfer learning experiences and assessment practices. These shifts enhance the level of rigor in our classrooms.
  • Isaac Wells worked closely with our Impact Teams as they tackled student efficacy and agency. Teams engaged in purposeful protocols aligned to the shift in writing lesson expectations and formative assessments practices.

We worked with partner schools to engage in continuous cycles of intervisitations of PBL aligned lessons.

We created multiple opportunities for teacher teams to revise, enhance, and adjust units of study with the support of colleagues, administrators, and experts in the field. We are very thankful for The Core Collaborative and their partnership with Michael and his team. This work has truly been transformational.


Some of results are:

  • Teacher practice has been impacted positively in the areas of designing coherent instruction, engagement, questioning and discussion, and assessment in instruction as connected to the Danielson Framework.
  • We made gains on state tests in ELA (7%) and Math (10%)
  • We have seen progress in student discourse due to the integration of driving questions that impact students, the school and the larger community. Heightened student agency has enabled them to make connections to how their learning affects the world outside of our school.
  • This work has impacted the way we engage students in learning from experts in the field as they continue to grow as creative, well rounded citizens who are prepared to meet and overcome real world challenges.