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Building and Connecting Learning Communities

Building and Connecting Learning Communities
The Power of Networks for School Improvement

Edited by:
  • Steven Katz - Director, Aporia Consulting Ltd. and Faculty Member, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto
  • Lorna M. Earl - University of Toronto, Canada
  • Sonia Ben Jaafar - Assistant to the Researcher in Residence, Ontario Ministry of Education, Ontario Ministry of Education

October 2009 | 136 pages | Corwin
Ideal for school leaders, teacher leaders, and superintendents leading district-level change, this book describes how separate professional learning communities can be purposefully linked across schools to create effective Networked Learning Communities (NLCs). Steven Katz, Lorna M. Earl, and Sonia Ben Jaafar demonstrate how NLCs can effectively engage schools in creating and sharing professional knowledge and develop the kind of deep and sustained changes that enhance student learning, engagement, and success.Based on the authorsÆ research and work with districts and schools in North America and England, the book defines NLCs, explains how they work, and leads readers in examining:The importance of having a clear, evidence-based focusCollaborative inquiry as a process that challenges thinking and practice and generates new learning for teachersThe role of formal and informal leaders in both professional learning communities and networked learning communitiesBuilding and Connecting Learning Communities demonstrates how to work together to create the conditions for focused professional learning for teachers and tackles the challenge of how to sustain the work of NLCs.
About the Authors
1. Why Networks? Why Now?
It’s About Learning

Networks: A Powerful Organizational Tool

Time for Reflection

2. How Networked Learning Communities Work
What Are Networked Learning Communities?

How NLCs Work: The Theory of Action

Using NLCs to Focus Local PLCs

The Anatomy of a NLC: A Refined Theory of Action

Time for Reflection

3. Establishing a Clear and Defensible Focus
Focus Foremost

Evidence-Based Focus

From a School Focus to a Network Focus

Time for Reflection

4. Collaborative Inquiry to Challenge Thinking and Practice
The Importance of Relationships

From Inquiry to an Inquiry Habit of Mind

From Relationships to Deep Collaboration

Getting to Powerful Collaborative Inquiry

Time for Reflection

5. Leadership in Networked Professional Learning Communities
Roles of Formal Leaders

Roles of Informal Leaders

Time for Reflection

6. From Student Learning to Teacher Learning
Towards Focused Collaborative Inquiry

Collaborative Inquiry for Teacher Leaders

Within-School Focused Professional Learning: Collaborative Inquiry for Teachers

Time for Reflection

7. Using the Network to Support Professional Learning for Leaders
Collaborative Inquiry and Focused Learning for Leaders

Using Critical Friends to Promote Inquiry and Focus Efforts

From Collaborative Inquiry to Instructional Leadership Actions

Time for Reflection

8. Sustaining Networked Learning Communities
Sustaining Collective Understanding

Sustaining Professional Learning

Sustaining and Broadening Leadership

Sustaining Powerful Networked Learning Communities

Time for Reflection


"Taking your school from great to greater—to get there, this compelling book gives you tools to use with staff for reflecting on and refining your professional practices. It provides you and your team with effective options for taking learners to the next level of improvement."

Lynn A. Kaszynski, Principal
Harrison Street Elementary School, Sunbury, OH

Used the following text:
Davis, J. A. (1985). The logic of causal order. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dr Tirupalavanam Ganesh
School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, Arizona State University - Tempe
September 26, 2011

Steven Katz

Steven Katz is the director of Aporia Consulting Ltd. and a faculty member in the Applied Psychology and Human Development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE, UT), where he teaches in the Child Study and Education graduate program. He is the recipient of the OISE, UT- wide award for teaching excellence. Steven has a PhD in human development and applied psychology, with specialization in applied cognitive science. His areas of expertise include cognition and learning, teacher education, networked learning communities, leading professional learning, and evidence-informed decision making for... More About Author

Lorna M. Earl

Lorna M. Earl is a director of Aporia Consulting Ltd. and a retired associate professor from the Department of Theory and Policy Studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. She was the first director of assessment for the Ontario Education Quality and Accountability Office, and she as been a researcher and research director in school districts for over 20 years. Throughout her career, Earl has concentrated her efforts on policy and program evaluations as a vehicle to enhance learning for pupils and for organizations. She has done extensive work in the areas of literacy and the middle years, but... More About Author

Sonia Ben Jaafar

Sonia Ben Jaafar is a research associate at Aporia Consulting Ltd. She works internationally to support policy and program development and implementation through applied research and evaluation. Her areas of expertise include assessment, accountability, educational reform, policy and program development, and comparative studies.Ben Jaafar graduated from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto with a PhD in theory and policy studies. She also holds an MA in curriculum, teaching, and learning; a BEd specialized in science education; and a BSc in biochemistry. More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412966016
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