Our Approach

4 Key Areas

  • Facilitating learning that integrates discussions, reading, and writing
  • Engaging students in positive, culturally and linguistically responsive learning
  • Supporting students to learn about how language works to make meaning
  • Scaffolding deeper learning and academic language development

Leading with Learning provides districts with systemic support for improving educational outcomes for English learner students and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program and private sector partners, development of the model is guided by California’s new English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework for K–12 public schools, particularly its strong emphasis on educational equity for English learner students and all culturally and linguistically diverse students.

A main goal is to develop a scalable and replicable model of blended professional learning (blending face-to-face and online) and systemwide support for districts. In 2015 the project was launched in two California school districts — Fresno Unified and Sacramento City Unified. Two schools in each district were involved in the first year of implementation (2015-2016), which was increased to five schools in each district during the second year of implementation (2016-2017). Ultimately we aim to provide support to school districts throughout California and beyond.

A rigorous evaluation of the model’s implementation will be shared with our district and funding partners, and will inform the California Department of Education on needed statewide implementation supports for the new ELA/ELD Framework, which is to be implemented statewide.

Our ultimate goal is to raise student achievement and ensure that all English learner and other culturally and linguistically diverse students graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and meaningful interaction with civic life.

To accomplish this goal, professional learning and systems work focus on strengthening teaching and on leading implementation in four key areas:

  • Facilitating learning that integrates discussions, reading, and writing
  • Engaging students in positive, culturally and linguistically responsive learning
  • Supporting students to learn about how language works to make meaning
  • Scaffolding deeper learning and academic language development

Leading with Learning includes intensive blended professional learning for teachers, instructional coaches, and principals, and systems work with district leadership teams

We build the capacity of district staff to achieve impact early and sustain and scale the work. Leading with Learning engages teachers and leaders at all levels of the district system, as well as parents and families. The participants include the following groups:

  • Elementary school students (Transitional Kindergarten through grade 6) reading, writing, and discussing intellectually rich content and developing language
  • Teachers and principals developing and refining their practice
  • Districtwide instructional coaches supporting teacher learning
  • District content experts co-facilitating the blended professional learning
  • District leadership teams establishing a vision for educating English learner students, along with an action plan to carry out the vision

Introduction of the Leading with Learning model takes place over three years — with teachers and leaders engaged in intensive learning for the first two years, and the third year focused on ensuring the district has the capacity to sustain and scale the model after the initial funding has ended.

The outline below captures our strands of collaborative work with multiple stakeholders. (See our Five Strands Graphic, below, for a visual representation of the process of putting the model into place.)

  • Teachers’ Course:
    • Intensive summer institutes for teachers, coaches, and principals, followed by professional learning days scheduled quarterly during the school year
    • On-site, follow-up coaching provided by district coaches
    • Required “focused application tasks” to support the implementation of new pedagogical practices
    • Online learning and resources: discussion space, readings, videos of classroom practice
  • Coaches’ Course:
    • Face-to-face and online professional learning sessions
    • Follow-up face-to-face coaching, focused on the coaches’ serving the Leading with Learning schools
    • Required “focused application tasks” to support teachers in implementing new pedagogical practices
    • Online learning and resources: discussion space, readings, coaching tools, resources to be used in professional learning with teachers
  • Principal Cohort:
    • Face-to-face meetings across the year
    • Site visits to each school to observe and discuss implementation
    • Online space to share resources and engage in discussions
  • District Co-Facilitators:
    • Preparation meetings to prepare for co-facilitation
    • Co-construction of course content to ensure alignment with district initiatives and prior learning
    • Ongoing coaching support
  • District Leadership Teams:
    • Collaborative work sessions focused on developing a systems approach to advocacy for English learner students
    • Ongoing coaching support for key district leaders

Learn More

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Five Strands Graphic

This graphic summarizes the sequence of activities for teachers, principals, coaches, district leads, and co-facilitators.

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Project Description

Download this document for a quick overview of our approach to working with districts and teachers.

Article from EdSource

Read more about our work in Fresno in this July 2016 EdSource article.

Voices from the Field

“The students were highly engaged and loved participating. With scaffolds and recasting they collaboratively produced a biography on the life of Junipero Serra. It was also clear that they understood the basic components of biography as evidenced by the writing. Students love rigorous tasks if they are scaffolded and can be done through collaboration and interaction.”

– FUSD 4th grade teacher