How the Framework for Quality Learning is Organized

The Framework for Quality Learning utilizes a backward design philosophy as articulated by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding By Design (1998). Given this, the Framework for Quality Learning is organized around Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction.

The Division's curriculum acts as the foundation on which teachers ultimately build experiences that facilitate student learning. The curriculum component of the Framework for Quality Learning is divided into five main parts: concepts; enduring understandings; essential questions; curriculum mapping; and, the unit planning framework.

Assessment, at its pinnacle, serves as a means of accountability as well as a tool for promoting mastery learning and student engagement. In this way, both assessment for learning and assessment of learning combine to create a balanced assessment system. The assessment component of the Framework for Quality Learning is divided into five main parts: assessment of learning vs assessment for learning; identifying clear targets and using Bloom's Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain; assessment methods and assessment development; rubric analysis and feedback; and, student involvement in assessment.

Curriculum and balanced assessment are prerequisites for the development of instructional plans, which serve as itineraries for learning. It is only after teachers are clear on what it is that they expect all students to learn and what they will accept as evidence of learning that they begin developing learning plans.

The instruction component is organized into five main parts: disciplined inquiry; scaffolding for student learning; grouping strategies; other teacher decisions when planning for learning; and, using the learning plan format.

How to Use this Document

This work is intended to compel action. As such, readers are learners with this document as content presented in one section elicits questions in another. Just as concepts spiral throughout the K-12 curricula to provide multiple and increasingly complex opportunities for students to interact with those concepts, readers should expect to interact with the sections of this document multiple times to deepen understanding, thus mimicking the recursive nature of teaching and learning.

Lifelong-Learner Standards

The Division has identified 12 Lifelong-Learner Standards (Table 1) that set expectations for how students develop a wide variety of knowledge, understanding, and skills. The Lifelong- Learner Standards serve as a guide for teachers as they develop units, lessons, and tasks.

These standards articulate the necessary components of lifelong learning that allow all students to succeed as members of a global community and in a global economy. The Lifelong- Learner Standards are overarching process-based standards, not discrete fact-based standards that can be addressed in a single lesson or even a single unit. These standards demand attention over time and across all disciplines.

Lifelong learning places emphasis on results (learning and doing), not focusing on efforts alone (teaching and receiving). To develop the skills and habits associated with lifelong learning, students must:

  • learn beyond the simple recall of facts;
  • understand the connections to and implications of what they learn;
  • retain what they learn; and,
  • be able to apply what they learn in new contexts.

Lifelong-Learner Standards

  1. Plan and conduct research;
  2. Gather, organize, and analyze data, evaluate processes and products; and draw conclusions;
  3. Think analytically, critically, and creatively to pursue new ideas, acquire new knowledge, and make decisions;
  4. Understand and apply principles of logic and reasoning; develop, evaluate, and defend arguments;
  5. Seek, recognize and understand systems, patterns, themes, and interactions;
  6. Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve new and increasingly complex problems;
  7. Acquire and use precise language to clearly communicate ideas, knowledge, and processes;
  8. Explore and express ideas and opinions using multiple media, the arts, and technology;
  9. Demonstrate ethical behavior and respect for diversity through daily actions and decision making;
  10. Participate fully in civic life, and act on democratic ideals within the context of community and global interdependence;
  11. Understand and follow a physically active lifestyle that promotes good health and wellness; and,
  12. Apply habits of mind and metacognitive strategies to plan, monitor, and evaluate one's own work.

County Lifelong-Learner Standards (LLLS) apply across all disciplines, and therefore, must be interpreted within each discipline according to how students learn, think about and "do" history, science, mathematics, etc. Interpreting the Lifelong-Learner Standards within the disciplines elevates student learning to the very highest levels of performance necessary for scholarship. Table 2 provides examples of how a single Lifelong-Learner Standard connects to specific content areas.

LLLS: Gather, organize and analyze data; evaluate processes and products; and draw conclusions.

LLLS Across Multiple Disciplines

Teaching for lifelong learning requires educators to provide consistent opportunities for students to work at all levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Students move along this taxonomy of skills in a recursive manner, improving student engagement, content mastery, and higher-order thinking within each subject area, and reinforcing skills across all subject areas. When students have the opportunity to practice and apply Lifelong-Learner Standards over time and in multiple contexts, they develop skills and attitudes necessary to succeed as members of a global community and in a global economy.

Habits of Mind

As John Dewey wrote, the most important role of school is learning. And learning is a consequence of thinking. Today's society demands trained and agile thinkers, and today's students must learn to make meaning for themselves and to solve problems for which they do not have answers. (Costa, 1997) Educators Benjamin Bloom, Arthur Costa, and Reuven Feuerstein suggest that high quality thinking is characterized by the following habits of mind which transfer across content areas: intentionality, persistence, precision, open-mindedness, deliberation, seeking and giving reasons and evidence, objectivity, willingness to change positions when evidence and reason warrant doing so, a desire to be well informed, judging in terms of situations, issues, purposes and consequences. (Beyer, 1997)

In addition to these general habits of mind, each discipline has its "way of thinking" or making meaning from subject-specific content. Listings of discipline-specific habits of mind are included in Appendix A. The teacher's goal is to help students become disciplined thinkers as they move from grade level to grade level.