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The ABPC Blog

It’s Time for Instructional Rounds! Register Now for an Eye-Opening Visit to One of This Year’s 16 Participating Schools. It’s Powerful Professional Learning.

It’s nearly spring in Alabama and time for ABPC’s annual Instructional Rounds. Our 16 participating schools will welcome visiting colleagues, beginning February 26 and extending through May 1. Instructional Rounds offer a focused, day-long PD experience that lets participants “see what other schools are doing,” strengthen connections with forward-thinking colleagues, and take good ideas back home. Register now!

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Please Welcome Stoney Beavers, Our First ABPC Assistant Director!

As the Alabama Best Practices Center begins its 21st year, we’ve reached another milestone. Dr. Stoney Beavers, formerly the Assistant Superintendent of Blount County Schools, joins the ABPC as our first ever Assistant Director. Learn more about Stoney’s background as an award-winning teacher and education leader in this interview with ABPC Executive Vice President Cathy Gassenheimer.

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Bringing Rigor and Balance to Reading Instruction

Reading is a gateway to success in life, yet far too many students leave school without completely mastering this very important skill. Cathy Gassenheimer shares key concepts found in the 2016 book Reading Reconsidered by Doug Lemov and reflects on how we can focus on core reading instruction and also sustain the love of reading and the awareness that “literacy” is a concept that’s broadening and deepening in a digital age.

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Help Us Find a New Program Coordinator for the Alabama Best Practices Center

ABPC is searching for a new Program Coordinator. Executive Vice President Cathy Gassenheimer shares some background about the position, and current coordinator Emily Strickland reflects on her three years with our team. If you might be interested in applying (or might know of someone who’s a good fit), you can download the complete job description. Applications are due by February 14th.

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Teachers at Columbia Elementary “Demonstrate” SEL Skills to Their Students Every Friday Morning – Rain or Shine!

When Columbia Elementary teachers Karen Jump and Lauren Hester heard the challenge to lift their students’ spirits every Friday, they soon came up with a brainstorm. “We made posters with inspiring messages,” writes Jump, “then sent out an email to the school asking for teachers and staff members who wanted to participate. Each Friday morning, we stand outside, welcoming students to school.” Simple? Yes. Impactful? Very!

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How We Can Teach Our Students to Become Design Thinkers

How can educators better engage students so they see the relevance in what they’re learning – and the learning sticks? Cognitive scientist and former classroom teacher Lindsay Portnoy argues that Design Thinking strategies (found in engineering, software development and many other fields) are a big part of the answer. Cathy Gassenheimer reviews Portnoy’s new book.

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Review: You Look Like A Thing And I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works

Emily Strickland, ABPC’s Program Coordinator, has just finished a fascinating read recommended by the Next Big Idea Book Club, You Look Like A Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place. Author and research engineer Janelle Shane both entertains us and makes us think more deeply about how we influence the budding intelligences around us.

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Students Need Concept-Based Teaching to Thrive in a World Flooded with “Facts”

In a world overwhelmed with information, traditional models of fact-based teaching fail to engage our students or prepare them for the 21st century’s unique challenges. The elementary and secondary editions of Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding challenge educators to dig deep, push our thinking, and learn why and how concept-based teaching offers the best solution, writes Cathy Gassenheimer.

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Why Educators Need to Add “Range” to Our Understanding of How We Learn and Apply What We Know

In this day of specialization, it may seem counterintuitive to learn that some of the most successful people – across a span of professions – are generalists in many areas and were slower to specialize in just one during their formative years. Cathy Gassenheimer believes this is a valuable insight for educators, as she explains in her review of a new book by David Epstein, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World.

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