Literacy Design Collaborative Launches CoreTools

Professional learning communities (PLC) are the most important professional development trend in education. They embody many of the broader adult learning trends: interest-driven, high engagement, flexible, and social. There are PLCs for teachers by level and discipline, PLCs for teachers in districts and networks, PLCs for principals–and even PLCs for specific tasks like aligning texts to Common Core.
As we reported a year ago, the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) is a network of teachers and partners “building out a template-based approach to the literacy demands of college and the workplace, as defined by the Common Core State Standards.” The LDC is a PLC and fuels literacy PLCs with template tasks and resources.
LDC is not a lesson plan library, it’s a framework that helps teachers across the curriculum promote standards-based literacy. The LDC starts with a task, usually a writing prompt, that asks secondary students to take on an important issue and the complex texts that students must wrestle with to be college ready. Tasks can be rolled up into modules of two to four weeks of instruction. A complete module will include examples of quality student work. A group of modules roll up to a course.
Yesterday, LDC launched CoreTools, a teacher-created online instructional platform to guide teachers through a curriculum design and professional development experience that enables them to master the instructional shifts of the Common Core.
“Using LDC CoreTools, any K-12 teacher can incorporate the rigorous literacy demands of the Common Core State Standards into their existing curricula and teacher workflow to create CCSS-aligned, literacy-infused LDC modules, said Executive Director Chad Vignola.
There are at least 10 reasons to check out CoreTools and the LDC:

  1. LDC is the statewide Common Core strategy in several states across the country.
  2. LDC works in schools in over 40 states across the country with tens of thousands of teachers.
  3. LDC is supported by over 40 national expert teacher training and research partners
  4. LDC CoreTools have links to vetted resources including modules from Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and performance task David Pearson from Berkeley.
  5. LDC CoreTools are structured but flexible. As such, they enable independent teachers to create common core aligned curricular resources or centralized teams to create common curriculum that can be widely adapted and adopted.
  6. LDC template tasks are designed for teachers to select the content they will teach, using expectations set by state and district content standards.
  7. In LDC modules, students engage with big ideas and produce work that highlights their mastery or challenges in demonstrating common core skills.
  8. There are LDC templates to create argumentative, informative, narrative, or Socratic seminar modules constituting a playbook of 2-4 weeks of explicit literacy instruction.
  9. LDC artifacts create a teacher portfolio that maps to all primary teacher effectiveness frameworks.
  10. The process of LDC design and implementation is PD itself that leads to understanding of the Common Core instructional shifts.

CoreTools and support for the national expansion of the LDC are supported by a $12 million grant from the Gates Foundations.
“Teachers have told us that blending LDC CoreTools with their content enables teaching Common Core literacy demands to ‘become second nature. It¹s all about good teaching,” said Vignola. Tens of thousands of teachers already use LDC; Vignola thinks that with these new tools it will “increase exponentially.”
For more on Professional Learning Communities and performance tasks, see:

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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