QTL News & Stories
Technology, Teamwork, Use of Data Get Results
When a comprehensive, ongoing approach to professional development is followed, the results can be dramatic.
McGEE'S CROSSROADS, NC - In Johnston County, a district-wide partnership has brought hundreds of teachers through QTL. And schools are seeing concrete gains in student learning.
McGee's Crossroads Elementary is one of the county's success stories. Teachers recently completed Focused Collaborative Cycles, using student data to identify specific needs and address them through carefully chosen teaching strategies.
As an example: One team of first-grade teachers studied data and determined that many students lacked the ability to de-code information. So they chose specific teaching strategies and technology tools that they believed would meet that need, including word activities, word play games, word and picture sorts and the use of songs.
Next, they devised a plan for assessing whether the strategy worked. Using a phonics screener assessment, they observed dramatic increases in attainment - from 18% proficiency to 91% in one classroom. In addition, they observed that students were developing higher level thinking skills. And they even noted more subtle gains, like students becoming more responsible about bringing materials to literacy class.
Teachers of other grade levels, using different strategies to address different needs identified through the use of student data, reported similar growth in learning. Some of their strategies and results are detailed in this presentation they created for the report-out meeting (teachers' names have been deleted for privacy).
Literacy Specialist Jean Tunstall even wrote a poem about using QTL strategies to reach all learners.
School administrators attended the session and expressed enthusiasm and pride in what their faculty had accomplished. They were extremely impressed with the presentations and recognized the amount of effort that teachers had put into their action research, and say they intend to continue the work of the professional learning communities.
Harold Brewer, Senior Vice President of Programs for The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning, observed the report-out meeting and says he wishes every school administrator could see what the teachers had accomplished through commitment and collaboration.
"Students had grown, teachers had grown, and the school community had emerged a stronger force for the learners and for learning," he says." Like the principal, I am blown away to recognize the work that has been done and the outcomes.
"If we support our teachers and commit to join with them in the process of improvement, good things happen," he says. "We know if that were easy everyone would already be doing it. Congratulations to the teachers and the team at McGee's Crossroads for setting an example I will be very proud to share with educators everywhere."
QTL's relationship with McGee's Crossroads began in 2005-06 when the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) brought a quarter-million dollar federal technology demonstration grant to the school. The grant was one in a series of projects that funded new technology, along with professional development to give teachers ideas and information on how to use it effectively.
That year faculty members devoted time to QTL training, then sacrificed free hours to plan and implement collaborative projects. The value of that work was on display as they shared their results at a faculty-wide meeting at the end of that first phase.
But the experiment didn't end there. Evaluation showed the additional technology, professional development and collaboration had a quick and significant impact on teachers and students, and the QTL partnership begun at McGee's Crossroads now continues throughout Johnston County. This district has its own QTL Center and instructor, and McGee's Crossroads is one of the schools conducting more advanced professional development.
In 2008 the school is the Advanced Studies demonstration site for the district. Faculty and staff participated in QTLCS over the summer; at the beginning of the school year, QTL staff led the entire faculty through the establishment of their professional learning community.
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