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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

November 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

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412937900
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