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Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities

Creating and Sustaining Small Learning Communities
Strategies and Tools for Transforming High Schools

Second Edition
  • Grace Sammon - President, GMS Partners, Co-Founder, National Career Academy Coalition, Founder, The Business Institute for Educators

© 2007 | 248 pages | Corwin
High school reform expert, consultant, and author, Grace Sammon, offers district and school leaders a step-by-step approach to the work of redesigning high schools into smaller learning communities. This book moves education leaders and school reformers from an appreciation of creating smaller learning communities to the nuts and bolts of doing the work while making improvements in school culture, professional practice, data gathering and analysis, and academic achievement. In addition, it provides a full CD-Rom tool kit for developing, sustaining, and evaluating a successful small learning community. This resource and collection of tools are essential for school leaders serious about small learning communities and continuous improvement.
List of Artwork
List of Tool Kit Files
About the Author
1. The Journey Begins
The Mandate for School Reform  
Benefits of SLC  
Who Makes It Happen? The Practitioner's Role  
Key Elements of Effective Redesign Efforts  
Looking at Design Options  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
2. Formation, Study, and Awareness: The Sum of the Parts
Understanding the Process of Change  
What Do We Want a Graduate to Look Like?  
What Does the Ideal Teacher Look Like?  
Are We Producing That Now? The Data Discussion Begins  
What "Real" Might Look Like  
Building a "Commitment Framework": Agreements Needed for Success  
Building Your Local Definition: Establishing Structures  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
3. Leading an Improvement Process: Changes in Practice Are Inevitable
Creating a Theory of Change  
Where to Begin With Building Capacity  
Establish Relationships  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
4. The Plan?s the Thing: Establishing Structures
Initiative Alignment and Partnership Audit  
Creating Working Teams  
The Punch List: 100+ Things for Teams to Think About and Work Through  
How Much Will SLC Implementation Cost?  
Reality Check: Strengths and Deficit Mapping  
The Planning Stage  
The Ninth Grade Experience  
How Fast Do We Have to Go?  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
5. Establishing SLC Teams: Developing the Mission, Culture, and Schedule
Creating Teams  
Creating Specific SLC Teams  
Building the Team  
The Team Sets the Agenda  
Commitment to Students and Families  
School Practices  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
6. Curriculum for College and Careers
Curriculum Defined  
Understanding and Addressing Academic and Industry Skills Standards  
From Goals 2000 to SCANS: What Work Requires of Schools  
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities  
Identifying and Honing the SLC Curriculum: Pathways, Courses, and Integration  
'Quick Wins" Curriculum Tools  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
7. Professional Practice
Moving Into Data-Driven Discussions  
A Culture of Literacy  
Data, Data Everywhere  
Use of Time  
Professional Development  
Will This Impact Student Achievement?  
Pulling the Pieces Together  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
8. Powerful Partnerships
Partnership Defined  
Partnership Possibilities  
Business Basics  
Key Ingredients in Creating and Sustaining Partnerships  
Structures and Strategies  
Work-Based Learning  
The "Why" of Employability Skills  
The "When" of Employability Skills  
Developing Work-Based Experiences  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
9. The Student Experience: Making It Personal
School-Based Structures  
Personalizing the Learning Experience  
Service Learning/Community Service  
The Senior Experience  
Student Voice  
More About Work-Based Learning: Brief, Perform, and Debrief Everything  
A Word About Placements  
Job Shadowing  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
10. Sustaining: The Experts Are Among Us
Revisiting the Practitioner?s Role  
What Will It Take to Succeed?  
What Do Success and Sustainability Look Like?  
Taking Stock: Study Process and the Peer Review  
Study Tools to Get You Started  
At a Glance: Summing It Up and Next Steps  
The Journey Continues  

"Creating and sustaining small learning communities is not for the faint of heart. Without this invaluable resource and the talents and expertise of the writer, we likely would have done neither."

Cynthia Conwell, School Improvement Facilitator
Houston Independent School District, TX

"Strikes the right balance between theory and practice. This extensive text and impressive electronic tool kit reflect a national perspective on school reform gleaned from Sammon's many years of partnering with school systems for success for all students and teachers."

Gary Norris, Superintendent
Sarasota County Public Schools, FL

"Builds capacity in applying research to practice, providing strategies to improve teaching and learning that maximize student achievement, and using tools and techniques that enable staff to implement, share, and sustain new learning."

Kent Mathers, Assistant Superintendent
Yukon Public Schools, OK

I have learned so much through Grace Sammon’s work at our high school. Her vision, honesty and optimism are the ingredients that helped to make our program such a success. We know that we have a lot of work yet to do – but Sammon is the one who assisted a team of teachers with the most important step – that being the first.

Leesa B. Falterman, Special Education Coordinator and Life Skills Academy Director
Leesa B. Falterman, Special Education Coordinator and Life Skills Academy Director

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

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Grace M. Sammon

Grace Sammon, president and founder of GMS Partners, Inc., is an educator, school reformer, consultant, “coach,” speaker, and internationally recognized author. She has spent nearly twenty years working in one of the United States’ toughest institutions, the American high school. She has inspired change and fostered improvement in schools, districts, and government organizations nationally through her upbeat advice and sound, practical recommendations. GMS Partners, Inc. is an educational consulting firm dedicated to enhancing school communities through a focused effort on vision, alignment of resources, planning, coaching, professional... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781412937900
ISBN: 9781412937894