Road To Success
by Johnnie Tankersley
At the Winter Regional Conferences in 2006, we began a study of Mark O’Shea’s book, From Standards to Success. On page 21, Mark shows us a model that we have come to call the “Black Box” theory. With standards, frameworks, and curriculum materials on the left and success in student achievement on the right, the black box in the middle represents what we as educators need to do to help our students attain success in meeting the standards.
Mark and his colleagues reviewed existing research and found some promising directions for filling the “Black Box.” The first path is standards-based planning. The second is lesson study based on the Japanese Lesson Study Model. The third is looking at student work.
In our work with the Cornerstone Initiative in Muscogee County, Georgia, we have been using lesson study for about two years. We have participated in lesson studies during Cornerstone conferences and within our schools. There have been lesson studies with the coaches across all four Cornerstone schools, with teachers in grade levels, and with teachers across grade levels in the schools.
Looking at student work is a natural result of lesson study; however, we have found that a focused study of student work should be more prevalent in our daily practice. Writing standards-based lessons is another aspect we have spent significant time on. Both in the first and second year of their Cornerstone involvement, the coaches participated in staff development in backward lesson design based on standards from the Georgia State Standards. The coaches have led teachers in planning lessons in the same manner for lesson studies, for the Winter Conference 2008, and for normal classroom use.
For about two years, the Literacy Fellows have been writing units of study based on
standards. My unit is “Descriptive Essay in Informational Texts” and will soon be available through a link in the May 2008 Cornerstone Newsletter.
We are indeed privileged to have Mark O’Shea as one of our Knowledgeable Others. He discovered Cornerstone when he learned that we had participated in a study of his book. He attended part of our Summer Institute in 2006 and has been working with the Talladega County, Alabama School System and the Foundation Schools there. He and Janet Cumbee will lead our Focus Group Video Conference on May 6. We look forward to working further with Mark.