Education Opinion

Literacy Design Collaborative Launches CoreTools

By Tom Vander Ark — January 13, 2014 3 min read
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Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) are the most important professional development trend and development in education. They embody many of the broader
adult learning trends: interest-driven, high engagement, flexible, and social. There are PLCs for teachers by level and discipline, PLCs for teachers in
districts and networks, PLCs for principals—and even PLCs for specific tasks like aligning texts to the Common Core.

As we reported a year ago, the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) is a network of teachers and partners “building out a
template-based approach to the literacy demands of college and the workplace, as defined by the Common Core State Standards.” The LDC is a PLC and fuels literacy PLCs with template tasks and resources.

LDC is not a lesson plan library, it’s a framework that helps teachers across the curriculum promote standards-based literacy. The LDC starts with a task,
usually a writing prompt, that asks secondary students to take on an important issue and the complex texts that students must wrestle with to be college
ready. Tasks can be rolled up into modules of two to four weeks of instruction. A complete module will include examples of quality student work. A group of
modules roll up to a course.

Today, LDC launched CoreTools, a teacher-created online instructional platform to guide teachers
through a curriculum design and professional development experience that enables them to master the instructional shifts of the Common Core.

“Using LDC CoreTools, any K-12 teacher can incorporate the rigorous literacy demands of the Common Core State Standards into their existing curricula and teacher workflow to create CCSS-aligned,
literacy-infused LDC modules, said Executive Director Chad Vignola.

There are at least 10 reasons to check out CoreTools and the LDC:

  1. LDC is the statewide Common Core strategy in several states across the country.

  2. LDC works in schools in over 40 states across the country with tens of thousands of teachers.

  3. LDC is supported by over 40 national expert teacher training and research partners

  4. LDC CoreTools have links to vetted resources including modules fromStanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and performance task David Pearson from Berkeley.

  5. LDC CoreTools are structured but flexible. As such, they enable independent teachers to create common core aligned curricular resources or centralized
    teams to create common curriculum that can be widely adapted and adopted.

  6. LDC template tasks are designed for teachers to select the content they will teach, using expectations set by state and district content standards.

  7. In LDC modules, students engage with big ideas and produce work that highlights their mastery or challenges in demonstrating common core skills.

  8. There are LDC templates to create argumentative, informative, narrative, or Socratic seminar modules constituting a playbook of 2-4 weeks of explicit
    literacy instruction.

  9. LDC artifacts create a teacher portfolio that maps to all primary teacher effectiveness frameworks.

  10. The process of LDC design and implementation is PD itself that leads to understanding of the Common Core instructional shifts.

CoreTools and support for the national expansion of the LDC are supported by a $12 million grant from the Gates Foundations.

“Teachers have told us that blending LDC CoreTools with their content enables teaching Common Core literacy demands to ‘become second nature. It¹s all
about good teaching,” said Vignola. Tens of thousands of teachers already use LDC; Vignola thinks that with these new tools it will “increase

For more on Professional Learning Communities and performance tasks, see:

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.