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Partnering With Students

Partnering With Students
Building Ownership of Learning

Foreword by Larry Ainsworth

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April 2015 | 224 pages | Corwin
Ownership of Learning offers a powerful framework to significantly accelerate student motivation and learning. This book provides teachers and leaders with the “how to” by focusing on the impact of building collaborative relationships, clarifying criteria for success, building learner capacity, embedded formative assessment, and using feedback to deepen and prove learning. The three sections in the book - Defining the Journey, Learning on the Journey, and Retracing and Extending the Journey - are used as signposts to anchor the partnering process to:


  •  Demonstrate how to develop the students’ role as a full-fledged partners in the learning process
  •  Offer practical steps to empower and motivate students
  •  Provide multiple examples and visuals of key ideas and steps to develop partnerships in the classroom
  •  Align to the natural teaching and learning cycle in every classroom


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Foreword by Larry Ainsworth
About the Authors
Introduction: Finding True North
1. Defining Collaborative Relationships for Learning
2. Defining Essential Learnings
3. Defining Criteria for Success
4. Learner Strategies for Life
5. Learning Through Effective Feedback
6. Retracing Evidence to Prove and Extend Learning
7. Retracing and Extending the Process: A Summary to Guide Teachers and Leaders
Study Guide
List of Figures


“Anyone working on developing a growth mindset or even understanding it would benefit from this book. The strategies offered can be implemented immediately. As an administrator, I can use this material to help guide teachers who need support in guiding students to own their learning. This would be a great book study or a springboard for Professional Learning Group work.”

Lena Marie Rockwood, Middle School Assistant Principal
Revere Public Schools, Revere, MA

“The book provides a much-needed guide in developing student-focused classrooms.”

Marsha L. Carr, Assistant Professor and former Superintendent
University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC

"This book gives step-by-step suggestions on how to become a partner with students – to help them be better, and not just in your content area.  Expose students to the methods in this book, and they will use them for the rest of their lives.  And they will thank you for it."

Nancy Foote, 8th Grade Conceptual Physics Teacher

"Mary Jane O’Connell and Kara Vandas have taken a courageous step in connecting the dots on several pieces of strategic research about student learning. They have provided classroom teachers with practical templates with which to apply the teacher’s planning for instruction in partnering with students to build ownership for learning."

Ainsley B. Rose, Professional Development Associate, Corwin Press
President, Thistle Educational Development Inc., West Kelowna, BC Canada

"Practical, perfect for professional learning communities and independent study.  An extremely rich resource for educators who genuinely want to empower students to be successful in college AND careers.  The research supported strategies put forth press educators to engage in deep reflection and analysis of their personal beliefs and practices while equipping them with practical techniques to engage students in rigorous, relevant ways in the classroom which translates to VISIBLE LEARNING!"

Kim S. Benton, Chief Academic Officer, Deputy State Superintendent
Mississippi Department of Education Jackson, MS

"The book walks the reader through all of the steps involved in moving every classroom to a collaborative learning experience. The authors ensure that the reader (teacher or principal) sees how these concepts are scaffolded together to create a learner-centered environment . . . This is a book that gets better and better each time you read it. It drives you to take action. I look forward to making changes in my classroom using these strategies. The authors clearly have a vision of the classroom feel and the learning experiences that move students to own their own learning."

JoAnn Hiatt, Mathematics Teacher
Olathe East High School, Olathe, KS

"The TRUST Model presented by O'Connell and Vandas captures the essence of what our most effective teachers do to ensure students are co-owners of the classroom and their learning.  The authors have articulated exactly what is needed to create the engaging classroom environments we need in our schools."

Karen Brofft, Superintendent
Lewis-Palmer School District in Colorado

"O’Connell and Vandas provide a wealth of information to educators proving that it is not only important to be student-focused and driven, but essential if students are to reach their fullest potential.  In an era where we seemingly complicate things because we can, it is refreshing to see a book like this that is clearly written, driven by commonsense, evidenced by good practice, and supported with tools and clear examples to support both the teacher and learner."

Russell J. Quaglia, President/Founder
Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

“Vandas and O’Connell do a masterful job of making the research on student achievement completely accessible, relatable, and immediately usable in the classroom. This book is profound in its ability to do this while putting the tools for implementation into the hands of teachers and their students.”

Kelley King, Principal, Education Speaker & Consultant
San Diego Jewish Academy

"Most of us are quick to agree that teachers shouldn’t do all the work when it comes to student learning, but we’re not always sure how to do that. In Partnering with Students to Build Ownership of Learning, O’Connell and Vandas tell us how to do that in an extremely practical and theoretical book. If you want to know how to get students to do more of the work, then you should read this book."

Jim Knight, Author of Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction

Sample Materials & Chapters



Mary Jane O'Connell

Mary Jane O’Connell brings a unique practitioner’s perspective to her work with educators. She has seven years of classroom teaching experience and over twenty years of experience as a building principal in year-round schools ranging in size from 450 to 980 students. Since 2007, she has served as a consultant working with teachers at all levels, building administrators, and central office staff  in a variety of urban, suburban and rural settings. Mary Jane has presented numerous seminars throughout the United States and volunteered for two weeks in Zambia to work with college professors desirous of improving their teacher... More About Author

Kara L. Vandas

Kara Vandas is an educator with an enduring passion for empowering learners. She began her career in education at an alternative school for youth at-risk. Kara spent several more years in the classroom in public education as a middle and high school educator and then transitioned to coaching and professional learning positions that allowed her to support teachers and leaders. Her current role as an author and consultant takes her around the world to partner with schools and school districts.  She also presents nationally and internationally at conferences, with a focus on learner agency and efficacy.Kara is the co-author of Partnering... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781483371382

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