Welcome to our monthly author focus newsletter where we will have insights and information from some of our authors. This month we're featuring Rachel Billmeyer, Robin Fogarty, Anne Davies, Jim Knight, Sally Milbourne, Lyn Sharratt and Harvey Silver. Get to know some of our authors, what they're up to, what new information and research they've come across and more. Rachel Billmeyer and Robin Fogarty will be two of our regular authors featured in this newsletter, but in the coming months we will also feature the likes of Rich Allen, Chris Ericson and Lee Crockett.


So settle in and enjoy.

Rachel Billmeyer

February Literacy Tip
The February Literacy Tip again focuses on the importance of developing vocabulary.  Research clearly stresses that academic achievement is profoundly dependent on vocabulary knowledge. Research from the past 20 years has broadened and deepened our understanding of what vocabulary learning and teaching should look like.  Effective vocabulary development incorporates six critical components of vocabulary development.  This newsletter will focus on two critical components: language interactions and multiple exposures to words. Language interactions, meaning receptive and productive, and multiple exposure, where some children need to use a word 20 times or more before they can attach meaning to it.

Titles by Rachel Billmeyer:
Strategic Reading in the Content Areas (RB4053)
Capturing All of the Reader Through the Reading Assessment System, 2nd Edition (RB4305)
Literacy and Learning Trilogy, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (RB4000)

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Robin Fogarty

Common Core Standards
There is a big shift in America at the moment to common core standards, but again, these are ideas that are important and can be implemented all over the world. There are two important fundamental factors to common core standards. The first and foundational component is INPUT on effective professional learning practices for adult learners, that get results from the staff room training to the classroom teaching. The second important component is OUTPUT from the participating teams. Common Core teams use dynamic professional development planning tools to design and plan professional development, customised for their school or region.

Titles by Robin Fogarty:
Supporting Differentiated Instruction (SOT7962)
Brain Compatible Classrooms (CO1045)
In a Nutshell: The Adult Learner: Some Things We Know (RF2716)
From Staff Room to Classroom II: The One-Minute Professional Development Planner (CO5562)

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Lyn Sharratt

Using Data to Inform Instruction
We are intent on ensuring that all students in every class have an opportunity to learn. A key mechanism every teacher has available to assure that every child is learning is up to date data on each child’s performance. Whether standardised, large-scale or in-class generated, the data can provide critical insights to the teacher who is professionally sure how to use it and confident in proceeding. Can we any longer stand by as teachers, administrators or elected officials report that “only x%” of their students did not make standard? Can we standby and not find ways to encourage or persuade our districts and teachers to use the data to determine with precision how to help each child? Can we standby knowing that many teachers simply don’t know how to mine the data they have in their daily planners?

Titles by Lyn Sharratt:
Putting FACES on the Data: What Great Leaders Do! (CO1180)
Realization: The Change Imperative for Deepening District-Wide Reform (CO3513)

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Jim Knight

Should Coaching Be Confidential?
In most types of coaching, whether life coaching, executive coaching or instructional coaching, the practice of coaching occurs within confidential relationships. There are at least three reasons for this. However, not everything a coach does, can or should be confidential. For example, coaches need to keep principals informed of whom they are working with and what they are working on. To create settings where such transparency is possible may require baby steps.  In a culture where there is not a great deal of trust, confidential coaching can be the default mode, but over time, if teachers agree, more information can be shared. The greater the lack of trust initially, the more important confidentiality usually is.  What is most important is that principals and coaches clearly delineate what they will and will not discuss, communicate that policy across the school, act consistently with the policy.

Titles by Jim Knight:
Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction (CO8440)
Instructional Coaching (CO2387)
Coaching: Approaches & Perspectives (CO4235)

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Anne Davies

Criteria vs Rubrics
Recently, I was in New Brunswick in Eastern Canada where I was asked, “What’s the difference between criteria and rubrics?" Criteria describes the expectations for a product, a process or a collection of evidence of learning. When teachers co-construct criteria with students they will begin with the students’ ideas and then have them analyse samples to gain a better understanding of the quality expectations. When the criteria have been established, it is sometimes helpful to build a ‘pathway to success.’ These descriptions of moving towards success are often referred to as rubrics.

In some cases, rubrics can get in the way of learning. Consider the student who struggles. When she (or he) looks at the descriptions of level one or level two work, she often finds a description of how she has failed rather than the steps needed to move towards quality. Or, consider the student who chooses to not do as well as they might; she will often use a rubric to find out what work she can avoid doing.

Consider carefully whether you need a rubric at all. Sometimes, you may want to limit the evaluative feedback students receive during the learning time and will choose NOT to use a rubric. Other times, you may have an outstanding rubric or developmental continuum that helps support learning for all your students and you will choose to use it.

Titles by Anne Davies:
Making Classroom Assessment Work, 3rd Edition (SOT1762)
Knowing What Counts Conferencing and Reporting, 2nd Edition (SOT1830)
Knowing What Counts Setting and Using Criteria, 2nd Edition (SOT1809)
Knowing What Counts Self-Assessment and Goal Setting, 2nd Edition (SOT1793)
Transforming Schools and Systems Using Assessment: A Practical Guide (SOT3382)

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Harvey Silver

So Each May Learn: A Thoughtful Approach to RTI
Response to Intervention, or RTI, has been compared to a medical triage model in which instructional resources are matched to student needs. The three tiers of intervention in the RTI model help schools and teachers maximise their efforts in instruction and assessment so that the students who need the most help not only get it, but benefit from it. At the same time, an effective RTI model ensures that all students - not just struggling and at-risk learners - develop the background knowledge, understanding, skills, and habits of mind they'll need to succeed as citizens and workers of the 21st Century. The ultimate goal of RTI then, is to help us realise the dream and promise of education by giving every student an equal opportunity for meaningful learning.

Titles by Harvey Silver:
The Strategic Teacher: Selecting the Right Research-Based Strategy for Every Lesson (107059)
Compare & Contrast: Teaching Comparative Thinking to Strengthen Student Learning (A Strategic Teacher PLC Guide) (110126)
The Thoughtful Classroom Portfolio Series: Questioning Styles and Strategies (TC0640)

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Sally Milbourne

Engaging the Learner Using the Australian National Curriculum
Dr Sally Milbourne's background in education has taken her from classroom teacher to university lecturer and her current position as a primary school principal. In this full day session at Hawker Brownlow's 9th Annual Thinking and Learning Conference, Sally will deepen participants' understanding of the proven strategies to engage the mind of the learner. The workshop will focus on vocabulary development, narrative and informative text, questioining, discussion and grouping and energising activities, and reflection. Participants will also consider the use of these strategies within the context of the Australian National Curriculum.

Related Titles:
Strategies to Engage the Mind of the Learner (RB4114) by Rachel Billmeyer

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