Our instructional framework empowers teachers to improve their impact on student learning. Browse the topics below to find answers to commonly raised questions.
Learning-Focused is an instructional framework that facilitates collaborative planning to produce purposeful lessons that guide students in acquiring, understanding, and retaining information.
The Learning-Focused team provides professional development for teachers, principals, and curriculum and instruction directors. We train educators on how to synthesize proven, effective learning strategies that improve lesson planning and the quality of instruction in the classroom.
We are so much more! But we will let our clients speak...
- "Learning-Focused provided me the support I needed to be a better leader. I have been a Turn-Around Principal at two different schools with success, but always felt I could do more to help our students and staff. Working more hours wasn’t an option as I was already at school 10 hours plus each day. Learning-Focused gave me the structure and support I needed to have a clear focus and know what to look for to ensure learning was happening in each and every classroom. Our data, after just one year of implementing best practices and researched strategies, showed that we were the only school in the East Zone to close all eight achievement gaps outlined by our district. After 35 years in education, I finally have the ability to give our teachers the tools they need to ensure every student is engaged and growing in knowledge. Thank you Learning-Focused Team for helping me become a better leader." -Linda Maere, Principal of Harns Marsh Middle School Lee County Fl
- "LF has helped us have a consistent language of instruction for students and teachers. It literally helps teachers "focus" their instructional strategies into an organized and strategic lesson plan. This allows teachers to focus on the delivery and refinement of lessons instead of just linking a bunch of activities together." - Celeste Sundo, Charter School Administrator
- "Learning-Focused is the structure that education has been missing. It helps teachers unpack standards and map their curriculum in a research-based way that ensures student success!" - Wake County Schools Administrator.
Listen to other administrators, teachers, and district personnel describe Learning-Focused here.
Every lesson is directed by national, state, and local standards and interconnects high-yield instructional strategies, ensuring teachers feel confident as they progress through the lesson they are reaching a higher level of rigorous thinking and learning.
The framework provides a collaborative way of planning to ensure that strategies are employed strategically during a lesson so that all students can be successful in mastering grade level standards. It ensures that higher order thinking progresses throughout the lesson and that teachers consider the needs of all students. It makes a huge difference in lesson planning because it also encourages teachers to focus on specific learning goals that align with standards.
"The Learning-Focused framework has changed the way that I think about curriculum design and student learning. Every lesson is directed by the standards and includes effective learning strategies so I am confident that as I progress through the lesson I am reaching a higher level of rigorous thinking and learning." - Teacher in Athens Area School District
The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is a high-impact-rapid response innovation that significantly improves teaching effectiveness and accelerates learning by providing an approach for incorporating exemplary practices for leaders and high yield instructional strategies for instruction. Learning-Focused has the proven track record to transform one school or a large cluster of schools.
The MTSS Paradigm Shift
Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) is a framework that helps educators provide academic and behavioral strategies for students with various needs. MTSS grew out of the integration of two other intervention-based frameworks: Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). From these beginnings as a tool to help improve educational outcomes for students in special education, MTSS has grown to encompass all students at every level. It is our responsibility to identify the curricular, instructional, and environmental conditions that enable learning. A lack of learning strategies does not mean we can identify students as learning disabled any longer.
"The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is a philosophy of teaching rather than a program. Under this philosophy, teachers learn to organize the delivery of instruction in a way that tailors skill development for each child. This philosophy truly takes into account the developmental process of learning, problem-solving, and learning to read and write. Learning-Focused provides teachers with essential tools that make learning effective, fun, and exciting each day. Implementing this philosophy and style into a school will revolutionize the way teachers have traditionally taught. You'll love the results!" -Angela L. Martin, Principal
Learning-Focused and MTSS are Prevention-Oriented
It is impossible to implement MTSS without fully involving general education due to the way it requires a new way of thinking about instruction, achievement, and individual differences. The first tier of intervention is focused specifically at the school core curriculum level. In this tier, approximately 80% to 85% of the general student body should be able to meet grade-level norms without additional assistance.
Learning-Focused trains teachers in high-quality, research-based instruction with a planning framework that incorporates high yield strategies and exemplary practices that focus on whether students learn. With Learning-Focused, teachers and administrators have exactly what they need for Tier 1 instruction and monitoring.
Through the planning framework, schools are able to use the monitoring of learning through the core curriculum to determine which students (15-20%) show a discrepancy between their current level of performance and that of the expected level of performance is then given Tier 2 or Secondary, supplementary instruction services (not to be confused with special education) targeting the problems the student is having.
Learning power comes from connecting these strategies and practices in every lesson to ensure student success!
The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework includes solutions for Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions:
- Mapping Power Standards Into Lessons – the only standards-driven curriculum model for planning that focuses on what students need to learn and is easily implemented and monitored by all teachers
- The High Performance Learning-Focused Lesson – planning, instruction, and assessments that ensure students acquire new knowledge. The lesson is driven by the top research-based learning strategies that interconnect to increase achievement!
- Increasing the Rigor of Learning-Focused Lessons: Higher Order Thinking, Reading, and Writing – connecting planning, instruction, and assessments to higher level thinking
- Accelerating Learning-Focused Lessons: Catching Kids Up! - a model that catches kids up to grade level by accelerating learning instead of just remediation
- Effective Vocabulary Instruction in Learning-Focused Lessons – cognitive strategies that target acquisition and long term use of Tier 1, 2, and 3 vocabulary words
- Differentiated Assignments – a differentiation model that is actually practical for all teachers to implement in their classrooms to target individual learning differences
- Guided Reading: Activities to Support Comprehensive Literacy – proven reading intervention models to increase reading successes by differentiating support for students at their reading level, but consistently aligning activities to grade level learning expectations
The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework provides a process that improves lesson plans by helping keep educators organized, focused, and on-task with state standards. The process is designed to help teachers plan lessons that reach all students through meaningful and engaging instruction. Teachers plan meaningful content through various types of learning activities and formative assessments that are research-based and proven to be effective.
Like typical schools, exemplary schools (schools with 85+% of their students on or above grade level) use specific frameworks to define their objectives and goals, as well as to use them as evaluation tools. However, unlike typical schools, exemplary schools overwhelmingly use one specific framework that defines how they will achieve their objectives and goals. All other frameworks integrate into the one framework the focus to remain clear on how they will achieve their goals.
"As a grade level Learning Support Coach, the consistency of using LFS practices throughout the school makes it easier for me to provide support services for my students with disabilities in the inclusion classrooms. I am able to know exactly what happened, what is expected, and what is coming up so I am able to support struggling students in the classroom with verbiage and strategies consistent with those of the classroom teachers. Although the front end planning requires more coordination and collaboration, the day-to-day implementation requires less coordination and collaboration; therefore, providing a more seamless interaction between me and my classroom teachers." - Instructional Coach, Delaware
Learning-Focused is a backward planning process that helps teachers structure their entire lesson plan from start to finish. It allows them to design a standards-driven lesson and take into account many different variables that may not be considered before starting planning. It is a process to help in aligning grade level expectations, not in making it harder to complete plans.
The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework organizes activities in a manner in which students are aware of the intended outcomes, chunks learning into meaningful segments, and strategically assesses students' learning along the way. It creates a flexible structure to help support teachers' instructional design decisions as they develop rigorous lessons that interest and challenge students to think critically and work together collaboratively.
It gives the teacher the following tools to ensure student achievement:
- a standards-driven lesson plan format
- strategies to differentiate
- research-based learning strategies for maximum achievement gains
- higher order thinking strategies
- specific vocabulary strategies
- assignment and assessment support
- and graphic organizers to guide student thinking
Learning-Focused is a planning framework using high yield instructional strategies and practices to deliver quality instruction so that students are better able to grasp information and keep it longer. The identification of exemplary practices ensures that our teachers and students can easily identify the most critical elements of a lesson and are able to easily access the learning through intentional, thoughtful planning. This organized and structured method of planning educational experiences for students is engaging and contributes to higher academic achievement. The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is designed to remind the teacher to stay on topic, organize information graphically for the learner, consider remediation and acceleration.
We help you create a culture of academic achievement. Review our example Case Studies here.
We asked some of our clients to tell us what they like best about the instructional framework:
- "There are a lot of things that I like about Learning-Focused. As the Director of Professional Development, I like the "train the trainer model" and how easy it is for all teachers (K-12) to adapt their content and personal instructional style into this framework."
- "The consistency it provided for my students. Parents and students love the Learning Maps."
- "The format of the lesson plans. It allows me to think about all the variables at once."
- "LFS provides a framework that facilitates success for all stakeholders."
- "The emphasis on collaborative pairs and engaging students in learning activities that they are expected to summarize."
- "I like the systematic framework it provides for lesson planning. It reminds the teacher of what is needed to provide a quality, challenging lesson."
- "Focus on standards-based lessons with higher order thinking; the expectation for all lessons is the same. On-going training and on-line resources to support teachers."
- "I have always liked Learning-Focused because of it being research-based and evidence-based. No one can argue with real results!"
AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a nonprofit college-readiness program designed to help students develop the skills they need to be successful in college. The program places special emphasis on growing writing, critical thinking, teamwork, organization and reading skills using their WICOR instructional framework (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading). While AVID outlines a set of research strategies that align with best practices and current research for providing instruction across all content areas, it is often most prominent in special AVID elective classes. The students that are most typically enrolled in these electives are those that are targeted as “the academic middle.” These are typically B or C students that may become first generation college going students within their families.
In contrast, Learning-Focused is a standards-driven instructional framework that is focused on ensuring that every student receives powerful instruction and support for successfully mastering grade-level learning expectations. We help schools create a culture of academic achievement in every classroom, for every student. The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework offers the same research-based strategies of AVID, but we train schools and districts to use them as Exemplary Schools do by...
- connecting research-based strategies and exemplary practices in every lesson to maximize the learning of content and skills.
- increasing higher order thinking, rigor, and depth of learning by using research-based learning strategies in all lessons.
- using a backward design planning process to determine what and how students should demonstrate an understanding of grade-level learning expectations (set by standards) and based on those decisions, determine how students should learn the content, skills, and strategies for students to successfully demonstrate their understanding.
- creating prioritized Learning Goals, Lesson Essential Questions and Assignments with critical non-fiction writing standards and non-fiction reading standards integrated into content subjects (and may be given those subjects’ standards numbers and names).
- pacing the curriculum so that the rigor and complexity increase across the lessons and academic year.
- organizing the classroom environment with visual maps that focus on vocabulary, text structure anchor charts, and math anchor charts for increasing thinking and comprehension.
- organizing common standards-based assessments and assignments that are used at least quarterly by every teacher of the same course or subject.
There are traditionally three ways that teachers have created units of instruction.
- Some teachers start by reading their state standards and identifying the specific objectives they want to accomplish, followed by a rigorous search for learning experiences and materials that meet those objectives. This is a standards-driven approach to planning learning units.
- Others collect ideas, rich materials, lesson plans, and activities, resource-based on their intuition about how students within a developmental range learn through and about a particular discipline; next, they assign standards and objectives to the newly acquired content. This is a standards-based approach to planning learning units.
- Others teach units according to their textbook or whatever resources they have used in previous years of teaching. This is a resource-based approach.
Units and lessons can no longer be defined by a general theme, idea, or concept. If students are to succeed in mastering next-generation standards, teachers must be able to plan instruction that is purposefully connected to standards-driven Learning Goals. Shifting unit and lesson plans from standards-based and resource-based topics to standards-driven instruction and assessment will produce a smooth and logical progression of learning for all students, leading them from acquisition to rigor.
The Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is a process for planning standards-driven, backward design lessons and instruction that focuses on HOW students learn, and more importantly, WHETHER students learn the concepts and skills they are expected to acquire. Teachers increase their effectiveness by purposefully connecting the top research-based learning strategies and exemplary practices in every lesson. Through the consistent and pervasive implementation of standards-driven instruction, schools will systematically accelerate student learning.
Many schools are implementing instructional frameworks using units and curriculum mapping. Schools that have been through the Learning-Focused Instructional Framework workshops have teachers that are trained to plan using exemplary instruction through a standards-driven unit design. The strength of mapping curriculum through units allows for efficient, connected instructional planning tied directly to state and national objectives. During Learning-Focused Instructional Framework training, teachers are provided with the tools, knowledge, and support necessary to deliver instruction through a teaching and learning framework.
Both Learning-Focused and UBD are backward-design planning models. Teachers planning for student learning is essential for both models to succeed. While UBD is tied to student understanding, it does not explicitly address instructional strategies or higher-level thinking. Learning-Focused Instructional Framework is a model that is tied specifically to raising achievement and embedding research-based strategies and evidence-based practices into lessons and units. UBD does not include the instructional support necessary for teachers to successfully create exemplary lesson plans for learning. UBD is very specific on using state objectives and content when planning, making unit goals the strongest component of UBD, which adequately compares to the Learning-Focused Instructional Framework of Learning Goals and Student Learning Maps. Both models have quality Performance Task/Assessment components.
Schools that have been implementing UBD will find that Learning-Focused will enhance it by helping teachers design instruction and assessment that aligns with clear standards-driven Learning Goals and provides a process for decision-making that incorporates High Yield Instructional Strategies to maximize student learning and empower teachers to adapt to meet the needs of all of their students.