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Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities
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Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities
Strategies and Tools for Transforming High Schools

Second Edition
  • Grace Sammon - President, GMS Partners, Co-Founder, National Career Academy Coalition, Founder, The Business Institute for Educators


September 2007 | 248 pages | Corwin

"Creating and sustaining small learning communities is not for the faint of heart. Without this invaluable resource and the talents and expertise of the writer, we likely would have done neither."
—Cynthia Conwell, School Improvement Facilitator
Houston Independent School District, TX

"Strikes the right balance between theory and practice. This extensive text and impressive electronic tool kit reflects a national perspective on school reform gleaned from the author's many years of partnering with school systems for success for all students and teachers."
—Gary Norris, Superintendent
Sarasota County Public Schools, FL

"Builds capacity in applying research to practice, providing strategies to improve teaching and learning that maximize student achievement, and using tools and techniques that enable staff to implement, share, and sustain new learning."
—Kent Mathers, Assistant Superintendent
Yukon Public Schools, OK

Transform your high school into a high-performing environment for teaching and learning!

This research-based, fully revised edition of Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities demonstrates how to empower school teams and foster the professional practices that create a true climate for success. Author Grace Sammon offers school leaders a step-by-step approach for redesigning high schools into small learning communities (SLC) that cultivate sound instructional methods and personalized learning environments for students.

Presenting a hands-on process that addresses data, personalization, partnerships, curriculum, and instruction, this book moves educational leaders and school reformers from an appreciation of SLC to the nuts and bolts of collaborating and doing the work of improving school culture and academic achievement. With a focus on getting results, the text offers:

  • A CD-ROM tool kit with over 30 planning templates and data collection and assessment tools for developing, sustaining, and evaluating a successful school transformation to SLC
  • Frequently asked questions about how SLC benefit students and schools
  • Procedures to create school-based teams to jump-start and sustain data-driven discussions and decision making

This resource and collection of tools is ideal for school leaders who are serious about continuous improvement to ensure success for all students.


 
List of Artwork
 
List of Tool Kit Files
 
Preface
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Author
 
1. The Journey Begins
Background

 
The Mandate for School Reform

 
Benefits of SLC

 
Who Makes It Happen? The Practitioner's Role

 
Key Elements of Effective Redesign Efforts

 
Looking at Design Options

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
2. Formation, Study, and Awareness: The Sum of the Parts
Understanding the Process of Change

 
What Do We Want a Graduate to Look Like?

 
What Does the Ideal Teacher Look Like?

 
Are We Producing That Now? The Data Discussion Begins

 
What "Real" Might Look Like

 
Building a "Commitment Framework": Agreements Needed for Success

 
Building Your Local Definition: Establishing Structures

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
3. Leading an Improvement Process: Changes in Practice Are Inevitable
Creating a Theory of Change

 
Where to Begin With Building Capacity

 
Establish Relationships

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
4. The Plan?s the Thing: Establishing Structures
Initiative Alignment and Partnership Audit

 
Creating Working Teams

 
The Punch List: 100+ Things for Teams to Think About and Work Through

 
How Much Will SLC Implementation Cost?

 
Reality Check: Strengths and Deficit Mapping

 
The Planning Stage

 
The Ninth Grade Experience

 
How Fast Do We Have to Go?

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
5. Establishing SLC Teams: Developing the Mission, Culture, and Schedule
Creating Teams

 
Creating Specific SLC Teams

 
Building the Team

 
The Team Sets the Agenda

 
Mission

 
Commitment to Students and Families

 
Scheduling

 
School Practices

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
6. Curriculum for College and Careers
Curriculum Defined

 
Understanding and Addressing Academic and Industry Skills Standards

 
From Goals 2000 to SCANS: What Work Requires of Schools

 
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

 
Identifying and Honing the SLC Curriculum: Pathways, Courses, and Integration

 
'Quick Wins" Curriculum Tools

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
7. Professional Practice
Moving Into Data-Driven Discussions

 
A Culture of Literacy

 
Data, Data Everywhere

 
Use of Time

 
Professional Development

 
Will This Impact Student Achievement?

 
Pulling the Pieces Together

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
8. Powerful Partnerships
Partnership Defined

 
Partnership Possibilities

 
Business Basics

 
Key Ingredients in Creating and Sustaining Partnerships

 
Structures and Strategies

 
Work-Based Learning

 
The "Why" of Employability Skills

 
The "When" of Employability Skills

 
Developing Work-Based Experiences

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
9. The Student Experience: Making It Personal
School-Based Structures

 
Personalizing the Learning Experience

 
Service Learning/Community Service

 
The Senior Experience

 
Student Voice

 
More About Work-Based Learning: Brief, Perform, and Debrief Everything

 
A Word About Placements

 
Job Shadowing

 
Mentorships

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
 
10. Sustaining: The Experts Are Among Us
Revisiting the Practitioner?s Role

 
What Will It Take to Succeed?

 
What Do Success and Sustainability Look Like?

 
Taking Stock: Study Process and the Peer Review

 
Study Tools to Get You Started

 
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps

 
The Journey Continues

 
 
Resources
 
References
 
Index

"Creating and sustaining small learning communities is not for the faint of heart. Without this invaluable resource and the talents and expertise of the writer, we likely would have done neither."

Cynthia Conwell, School Improvement Facilitator
Houston Independent School District, TX

"Strikes the right balance between theory and practice. This extensive text and impressive electronic tool kit reflect a national perspective on school reform gleaned from Sammon's many years of partnering with school systems for success for all students and teachers."

Gary Norris, Superintendent
Sarasota County Public Schools, FL

"Builds capacity in applying research to practice, providing strategies to improve teaching and learning that maximize student achievement, and using tools and techniques that enable staff to implement, share, and sustain new learning."

Kent Mathers, Assistant Superintendent
Yukon Public Schools, OK

I have learned so much through Grace Sammon’s work at our high school. Her vision, honesty and optimism are the ingredients that helped to make our program such a success. We know that we have a lot of work yet to do – but Sammon is the one who assisted a team of teachers with the most important step – that being the first.

Leesa B. Falterman, Special Education Coordinator and Life Skills Academy Director
Leesa B. Falterman, Special Education Coordinator and Life Skills Academy Director
Key features
  • Full CD-ROM "tool-kit" for creating, redesigning, sustaining, and assessing a small learning community
  • The latest research in high-school reform and small learning communities
  • Used in all 50 States and internationally

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface

Chapter 1


Preview this book

For instructors

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