New Visions for Public Schools (New Visions) is providing much-needed support to New York City’s (NYC) secondary teachers through vetted and adaptable instructional materials to help students, many reading below grade level, meet rigorous standards. New Visions offers science and social studies courses that provide teachers with spiraled content and scaffolded literacy strategies to support Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned instruction in content-area classrooms. Through this Teacher Practice Networks grant, New Visions is cultivating teacher leaders to lead meaningful professional learning with these high-quality resources to improve teachers’ CCSS-aligned instructional practice.
Strategies for Advancing Common Core
A small corps of New Visions teacher leaders, made up of teachers serving on course-based Teacher Advisory Boards, lead NYC middle and high school teachers through professional learning focused on one of three courses: biology, world history, or U.S. history. Teacher leaders help others learn CCSS-aligned literacy practices for their content-area classrooms; they also mentor and collaborate with peers in refining curricula. Teacher leaders lead similar ongoing professional learning for NYC teachers in other teacher communities within and beyond New Visions.
To promote New Visions’ CCSS-aligned, literacy-based courses, teacher leaders blog and present at conferences, directing educators to the New Visions website where the units of study can be freely accessed. Teacher leaders use social media to tackle common instructional challenges and maintain online communities of same-subject teachers.
Teacher Leadership Capacity
New Visions instructional specialists provide teacher leaders with coaching and modeling of leadership skills. Teacher leaders learn to lead school inquiry teams through collaborative problem-solving, designing and facilitating meaningful professional learning experiences, curating high-quality instructional materials, and presenting at regional and national conferences.
To reach more teachers and help improve their CCSS-aligned instruction, New Visions is scaling implementation of its courses through its teacher leaders and partnerships. The NYC Department of Education is a critical partner to scaling this instructional initiative. New Visions also collaborates with content partners—City University of New York, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and the American Museum of Natural History—and supports their respective teacher networks with CCSS-aligned resources and pedagogy. New Visions plans to develop a social media strategy with Widmeyer Communications to increase teacher reach and to explore partnerships with the New York State Council for the Social Studies and schools and districts beyond NYC to promote CCSS-aligned instruction in content-area classes.
New Visions for Public Schools
320 West 13th Street, 6th Floor
New York City, NY 10014
Catrin Davies, Associate Director of Institutional Giving
2013 – 2015 Initiative of New Visions for Public Schools
Primary Grant Focus
New Visions for Public Schools aims to advance Common Core State Standards (CCSS)-aligned instruction in New York City (NYC) public schools by 1) engaging effective high school science and social studies lead teachers in professional development that deepens their knowledge of content-specific literacy instruction and promotes sharing of effective literacy-based practices with colleagues; and 2) launching new curriculum pilots in biology and global history comprised of curated, high-quality resources mapped along a common scope and sequence.
Strategies for Supporting Common Core Success
New Visions for Public Schools’ key strategy to advance implementation of CCSS-aligned instruction among content-area teachers is to work directly with them, improving their skills in content-specific literacy instruction.
- In year one, New Visions selected 28 high school science and social studies teachers with demonstrated leadership potential to participate in monthly professional learning communities (PLCs), deepen their CCSS instructional skills, and share their developed resources with one another, both virtually and in person. Through this project, teachers from 23 NYC public schools are rooted in a larger, cross-school network of peers that reinforces Common Core-aligned practices and provides a safety net for teacher growth. To facilitate these conversations and foster a shared understanding of progress towards the implementing the standards, teachers follow a common scope and sequence.
- This year, teachers in 12 high schools are piloting newly developed curriculum in biology (or living environment) and global history. Teachers in the pilot participate in cross-school professional development, on-site coaching, and Google+ virtual communities. In addition to professional development focused on content, teachers receive training on online tools for course management, curriculum development, and peer collaboration that allows for extended opportunities to share and problem solve.
- To further support the teachers implementing the pilot courses, New Visions instructional coaches have curated existing resources and mapped them along a common scope and sequence of course content. This model of “curated choice” is intended to save teachers the time of searching for CCSS-aligned materials on their own; ensure that content and activities are rigorous and address learning objectives; and offer enough flexibility to encourage teacher buy-in, ownership, and feedback. The intention is to build teacher capacity to make informed choices toward improving classroom practice and student performance outcomes.