Powerful teaching strategies are the key to powerful learning
from FOCUS community newsletter, March 2008; updated in February 2009
Students are moving and shaking around the District. They sing “science bugaloos” to memorize lab procedures. They click, drag, and rearrange information during lessons using electronic white boards—the computerized, interactive version of an old-fashioned blackboard. They put famous figures in U.S. History on trial. They paint pictures of owls while writing five-paragraph owl essays while asking questions during a live classroom visit by a great-horned owl.
Forget about silently reading out of textbooks. Learning is truly an active, integrated process! Research shows that a powerful teacher who brings lessons to life is five times more influential than any other education factor on student achievement.
In other words, powerful teaching leads to powerful learning—which is why one of the District’s top priorities is offering teachers research-based training opportunities and supporting their professional development.
For instance, we hope all teachers will have the chance to be trained in GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Design) in the next several years. GLAD enables teachers to set and reach high expectations for all levels of learners. Teachers initially take part in an intense seven-day workshop and classroom demonstrations, which are followed by classroom coaching and continued development through mini workshops. A contingent of teachers has already completed GLAD training, and they report remarkable changes in their classrooms.
What does a GLAD classroom look like? Students work in groups to discover both the questions and answers. They hold each other to high standards, and are eager to learn. Lessons are active and incorporate many senses using pictures, chanting, puzzles, and movement. Non-communicative students speak. Hyper students positively channel their energy. High-achieving students think more deeply. Struggling students learn.
More than 95 percent of staff who participated in GLAD say the training made a dramatic difference in their teaching practices. They report that students are attentive and eager to learn about math and science—subjects that are challenging yet vital to our children’s ability to thrive in today’s dynamic global economy.
GLAD success at the elementary level has spurred demand for training at the middle and high schools. The District has responded by creating a modified version of GLAD for secondary instructors. Maywood Middle School is in the midst of staff immersion training that includes coaching, mini-workshops and even webinars. Pine Lake, Issaquah Middle and the High Schools will soon follow suit.
Through powerful teaching, our classrooms are being transformed. It’s easy to see why teachers and students are, well, glad to be GLAD!
Quotes from students after a GLAD geography lesson
- “I learned so much. Before you came, my head was pretty empty. Now I can hardly hold it up!”
- “When we sat on the floor as a group and shared answers [to make a] poster, I learned a lot from my classmates. I think making pictures and writing down what you thought was a great way to learn … I really enjoy GLAD.”
- “I learned so much, I don’t even know where to start … I never even heard about erosion before. The best way I learned about erosion was from all of the posters and the hand motions.”
- “I had a great day today … Now I know what a cartographer is. It’s someone who makes maps and globes.”
Quotes from teachers after GLAD training
Pictured above: Issaquah Valley Elementary fifth-graders discuss Native American culture with teacher Gary Arthur during a GLAD lesson that incorporates pictures, chanting, group work, and public speaking.
- “I really enjoyed the experience, not only because I walked away with a lot of wonderful resources and ideas, but also because it showed me the ownership students have over themselves and their work. It was incredible to see how excited and enthusiastic they could be while learning new information.” –Adrianne Lindeman, Maywood Middle School
- “The week spent in GLAD training has changed my thinking about the way children learn … Although I have only completed my second day of teaching in this fashion, I can see a profound difference in the amount of information my students are able to retain.”–Catherine Johnson, Maple Hills Elementary
- “I thought the differentiated reading groups and the high vocabulary were terrific ways to reach all students. The higher achieving students were learning new material and being challenged as the struggling students were given the opportunity to have more exposure to grade-level material plus more.”–Abigail Blastos, Sunset Elementary