What is Learning Cultures?
Learning Cultures® is a comprehensive school development program that emphasizes social-emotional skills, such as student responsibility, cognitive control, self-regulation and social cooperation, as a means to support academic achievement and social development.
The primary aim of the Learning Cultures® model is to help all students find a sense of purpose in their education, to become more intentional about their learning, and to acquire strategies and dispositions that help ensure they are able to carry out their own intentions.
Based on the ideas that children meet or exceed their potential depending on the resources provided by their culture, the Learning Cultures® curriculum provides students and teachers with the supports necessary to create classroom cultures that allow all children to take initiative to rise to their fullest potential. Learning Cultures® is an educational model designed to ensure all students learn.
The model is organized around classroom systems, organizational systems, and curriculum systems. At the classroom level, each period is organized into Learning Formats designed to maximize student autonomy, engagement and social interaction. These Formats include: Cooperative Unison Reading®, Work Time, Learning Conferences, Content Share, Writing Conferences, Small Group Instruction and Responsibility Teams (see: www.LearningCultures.net). Each of the Formats prescribes a set of procedures for teachers and students to follow. The procedures target social-emotional skills as opposed to cognitive skills normally associated with core curriculum (such as vocabulary, phonics, comprehension, or computation). By adhering to these social-emotional or ‘non-cognitive’ skills, students have opportunities to learn the cognitive skills that align with core curriculum standards.
Procedures for each format are prescribed in a rubric. Teachers use the rubrics as tools to coach students to strategically engage in cooperative problem solving and/or independent work in order to learn standards-based content. Over time, students become increasingly adept at goal setting, planning and pacing their own work. As they gain independence, students increasingly rely on peer collaboration as learning strategy, a skill highly valued in the 21st Century workplace.
The Learning Cultures® model has been successfully implemented in over 10 NYC public district schools where it has had a dramatic impact on student achievement (See: http://mccallister.wpengine.com/impact)
Read about Learning Cultures on ‘The Model’ page of this website. Listen to what teachers and principals say by viewing video on the ‘Practitioners’ page. Watch introductory video featured on the landing page of this website. And read books and other materials describing the practices (see Resources, below). If you’re interested in learning more, proceed to the next step in the process.
Contact us to arrange for a telephone, teleconference or in-person consultation. During the consultation process, we will help you determine whether the Learning Cultures model is a good fit for your school.
Once we help you determine whether Learning Cultures is feasible for your school, we will ask you to work with us to organize a Site Review. The Review is conducted by one or more members of the Learning Cultures team. During the Review, we interview students, teachers and leaders and assess existing education systems.
We develop an Action Plan with input from your school leadership team. The plan reflects your ambitions and goals and our recommendation for a set of actionable steps to help make sure you achieve them.
Before we launch the implementation phase, we work with your school to make the necessary preparations. This might include reprogramming schedules, hiring new staff, re-deploying existing staff, conducting professional development and training, and obtaining necessary resources needed to implement the Learning Cultures program. During this phase, Teacher Leaders are identified to take the lead in helping to implement the Learning Cultures model and to build school-based teaching and learning capacity.
We help you launch a fully articulated and targeted implementation process according to a specified timeline (anywhere from three months for minimal reforms at a narrow band of grade levels or program areas to three years for a full-school turnaround). During the process, we provide on-going professional development consultation and support.
Evaluation and Feedback
We conduct an on-going formative evaluation throughout the implementation process, which includes student assessment, teacher evaluation, school environment surveys, among other assessments. Once the plan has been fully implemented, we conduct a summative evaluation and provide a written report.
But once you’re a member of the Learning Cultures community, you’re always part of our family. You and your colleagues will join a growing network of educators working together to improve education for children of tomorrow. Ample resources are available. You’ll be able to stay connected to the Learning Cultures community through webinars, conferences, listserves, and a constantly growing well of print and digital media resources.