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School : R. L. Stevenson Elementary School

State : Florida

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : Less than 1,000 students

Community Type : Suburban

Related Tags : professional learning, strategic planning, teacher leadership

Focus on Deliberate Practices

R. L. Stevenson Elementary a K–6 school located in Merritt Island, Florida has a student population of nearly 500 and is part of Brevard Public Schools, a district that educates over 70,000 students in 17 different municipalities across the Florida coast.

The Challenge

Long before Principal Michael Corneau of R. L. Stevenson Elementary School in Brevard County, Florida had heard of the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC), he was on the hunt for a framework that would help his teachers develop rigorous and relevant standards-based lessons to build a better curriculum for students, and transform the school into one where literacy is infused in every subject in every classroom and teachers collaborate across grade levels. His goal was to ensure that teachers had the tools, resources, and support to prepare students for college and career.

The Solution

When his district offered to send elementary educators to a workshop on the LDC Design System in summer 2013, he jumped at the chance. Corneau and Assistant Principal Rick Sheppard “went into LDC heads over heels,” according to Brevard’s elementary literacy facilitator Debbie Wood.

LDC is an online curriculum design system that supports teachers in aligning instruction to develop standards-aligned and discipline-specific literacy skills and content mastery. Using online tools, LDC guides teachers to begin with college and career readiness standards, engaging them in a backward design process to make decisions about the instruction needed to address them and to develop their own curricula—whether it’s a literacy assignment or a longer unit of instruction.

Convinced that the LDC Design System could transform how teachers were preparing students for college- and career-readiness, Corneau and Sheppard realized they needed to “walk the walk” before asking teachers to create LDC modules—units of instruction that are implemented over a two-to-four week period. They started by writing a module broad enough to be implemented in kindergarten through sixth grade.

Sheppard’s and Corneau’s public risk-taking and openness to feedback from the staff earned them credibility among their staff. Teachers understood that their first modules would probably be flawed, too, and realized that they could take a risk, knowing they wouldn’t be penalized.
Through the fall and winter of 2013–2014, Corneau gradually introduced the LDC Design System to his staff at their weekly grade-level and vertical team meetings. Teams analyzed the Florida college- and career-readiness standards in each grade level to understand how each skill builds upon the other.

He admits that some teachers were hesitant at first, but he asked them to hang in there, telling them, “It will all come together.” And it did. By early 2014, LDC was infused throughout the school as modules were developed and implemented at each grade level. Most exciting, students are writing more than ever—and loving it. Corneau explains, “…the kids don’t even realize they’re doing more writing; it’s become so embedded and skillfully placed in the module that the kids no longer see it as a chore. That is LDC at its finest, in my opinion.”

He attributes LDC with igniting the passion for teaching at Stevenson and helping teachers to “focus on a more deliberate set of practices that help students to take greater ownership of their learning through more engaging work that is much more collaborative in nature. “
Corneau and Sheppard recently closed Year 2 of their LDC journey by hosting a school-wide LDC Demonstration Day, which drew visitors from several Florida school districts and multiple states.

Visitors toured model science, social studies, and English Language Arts classrooms from kindergarten through sixth where and had an opportunity to see LDC in action: teachers implementing a variety of LDC modules and students enthusiastically engaged in learning.

Stevenson Educators Talk About the Effect of LDC on Their Students and Their Practice

Heather Lacey, Sixth Grade Teacher, R. L. Stevenson Elementary
“LDC allows our students the opportunity to dig much deeper into a concept and it breaks it down into the fundamental aspects. It’s really helped them as far as the writing task. Their end products are much more meaningful; it’s not just ‘go write a five paragraph essay.’ They understand that every piece is meaningful to have the final product.”

Angela Schoon, Fourth Grade Teacher, R. L. Stevenson Elementary
“The best part about teaching LDC at the elementary level is that students are writing across the curriculum and they have no idea they’re doing it. Our students are writing every single day about their content knowledge…their depth of knowledge is much greater.”

Alison Fletcher, Kindergarten Teacher, R. L. Stevenson Elementary
“One of the biggest things that I’ve learned [from implementing LDC in the classroom] is that the standards have a lot more “meat” to them than I first realized… when you put an LDC module together, you have to look at the standards and dig into them and see what they are really asking the children to do—and how you can help them to accomplish that. I’m learning that I need to break things down more and analyze where my students are with every little step along the way that it takes to get them to the depth of each of the standards that I’m looking to address.”

Additional Resources

From R. L. Stevenson Elementary :

From the U.S. Department of Education:

District Point of Contact

Michael Corneau