Collaborative Lesson Authoring Builds Teacher Capacity, Student Literacy in Grand Prairie

“Our focus is on developing future male leaders who are college ready and college bound,” that’s the mission of the Young Men’s Leadership Academy at Kennedy Middle School in Grand Prairie ISD, a high challenge district between Dallas and Ft. Worth serving about 28,000 students in 40 schools.
To encourage close reading and better writing across the curriculum, Grand Prairie worked with SREB to introduce the Literacy Design Collaborative, a nonprofit offering a collection of open writing prompts and a collaborative lesson authoring environment.
Chadd Johnson, Principal at YML last year, said, “LDC has opened that portal for teachers to question their instruction, methodology, and its effectiveness in student academic success.” Johnson captured the following teacher feedback after implementation.
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Paul Blackwell is excited about including literacy instruction in Physical Education. LDC helped him develop a picture of quality work and when he doesn’t see it he encourages students to revise their work.
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Ginger Matthews implemented two LDC modules and found that it showed students skills needed to master state standards. After the LDC training she said, “I am doing more modeling of what is expected for my outcome.” Ginger was pleased to note that, “Students actually give better work when using laptops.”
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Ethan Hoeft and Amber Wiederhold are 8th grade English Language Arts teachers. They have devoted time to LDC lesson development and LDC modules are an everyday event in their classrooms. Amber has submitted modules for national LDC Jurying.
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Canesha Roblow developed and implemented one LDC module after the SREB training. “During class, I emphasize the importance of writing and reading. I hold students accountable for their writing.” She added, “My students are writing more,” and “are able to recognize good writing.”
Johnson said, “LDC is not easy and the teachers, students, or administrators cannot learn it in a short time. Leadership is imperative to the success of any LDC initiative, and leaders must understand the depth and complexity of this work.”
Focus of literacy work this year has been the writing process, academic writing, inferencing, vocabulary, text complexity, assessment.
Johnson appreciates that, “The Literacy Design Collaborative is an instructional process where professional learning and student learning go hand in hand.”
SREB Literacy Consultant Dixie Lee said Grand Prairie leaders were urging teachers to move away from teaching the test and move toward facilitating learning and giving students the tools they need to be successful through meaningful assignments and instructional planning.
This blog is part of a series brought to you by Literacy Design Collaborative (Sign up for your free account at For more, stay tuned in April for the final published Smart Bundle, Getting Smart on Teachers as Collaborative Curriculum Designers, and the accompanying podcast and infographic. You can also check out additional posts in the series here:

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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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