Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) is supporting 20 teacher leaders (TLs) for the two-year initiative to actively lead 600 social studies teachers in aligning their instructional practices to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). CRF TLs lead teacher cohorts in Los Angeles, California; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Orlando, Florida. CRF and its local partners support TLs, who have demonstrated leadership capacity, with opportunities to hone their own CCSS pedagogical practices, and then to provide professional development (PD) focused on one of three specific literacy-based standards, plus, intentional lesson planning — all toward improved CCSS implementation in middle and high school social studies classrooms.
Strategies for Supporting Teacher Leaders to Advance Common Core
Network Support for Teacher Leaders
CRF supports its TLs to become experts in a specific CCSS-aligned instructional approach and to develop leadership capacity to lead peers in professional learning. TLs selected for this effort bring knowledge and strong interest in at least one of the three targeted, instructional challenge areas: complex texts, student-directed discussions, and critical-thinking-based assessments, all with a focus on intentional and precise lesson planning. To improve their own CCSS-aligned instructional practices and develop a literacy-based classroom, CRF provides curricula resources that include Newsela, Actively Learn, and Achieve the Core’s English Language Arts/Literacy Assessments, as well as CRF’s own standards-aligned curricula. TLs also develop capacity to design and lead objective-based professional learning to peers. To hone their skills in CCSS implementation and leadership, TLs participate in local face-to-face (F2F) sessions as well as webinars, enabling TLs to experience cross-district and cross-state collaboration and learning. Throughout the academic year, CRF and its partners conduct regular check-ins as TLs are leading their cohorts in ongoing professional learning.
Teacher Leaders Working with Teachers
In pairs, CRF TLs lead a cohort of 30–40 teachers for the school year. In total, 10 pairs of TLs directly support shifts in instructional practices for 300 social studies teachers for each of the two years. To achieve this, TLs facilitate three 3-hour F2F sessions with their cohorts, and in between F2F sessions, conduct live webinars to provide continuity and increase teachers’ ease with online PD.
Additionally, TLs lead asynchronous learning events that include mini-lesson studies, video-peer coaching, lesson plan critiques, analysis of student work, and online discussion of related research and articles.
Mastering any one of the three CCSS-aligned instructional practices in literacy — scaffolds for complex text, student-directed discussions, and critical-thinking-based assessments — is a multi-faceted process that can be challenging, thus, TLs focus on making measureable change in one instructional practice with their cohort of teachers. All TLs, however, will support teachers in the skill of intentional and precise lesson planning, a through-line in the work of this project.
Partnerships with Local Education Agencies
CRF has long-term relationships providing teacher professional development in social studies with its two partners: 1) Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (JCC) at the University of Central Florida and 2) Carolina K–12, a program of University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill’s Program in the Humanities and Human Values. Partner JCC supports teacher leadership work in Polk County Public Schools, Florida, and partner Carolina K–12 supports the efforts in Guilford County Public Schools, North Carolina. CRF leads the work in California, primarily working with TLs in Los Angeles Unified School District and neighboring charter and district schools.
Constitutional Rights Foundation
601 South Kingsley Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Keri Doggett, Director of Program
2014 – 2015 Initiative of Constitutional Rights Foundation
Primary Grant Focus
To increase history and social studies teachers’ familiarity with and knowledge about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in literacy, Constitution Rights Foundation (CRF) is implementing a myriad of professional development strategies, including forming a leadership cadre, developing CCSS-aligned instructional resources, and scaling professional development (PD).
Strategies for Supporting Common Core Success
- CRF has formed a Leadership Cadre of 10 history/social studies teachers and curriculum specialists to develop CCSS-aligned instructional resources and partner with CRF staff to deliver CCSS-related PD. Following CRF-provided training in the instructional shifts, Leadership Cadre members are developing new CCSS-aligned curriculum resources involving complex texts to accompany existing, widely used CRF materials and are creating exemplar lessons to share with other secondary teachers.
- CRF staff and teacher leaders provide history and social studies teachers in their regions with face-to-face PD focused on instructional shifts in literacy and changing instructional practice in their academic content areas. To broaden CRF’s reach, web-based PD components such as webinars, webcasts, and videos of classroom instruction are being developed to provide remote PD learning opportunities for history and social studies teachers to deepen CCSS knowledge.