By Char Shryock Dir. of Curriculum and Instruction, Bay Village City Schools
Planning for action around learning goals or building goals can take many forms in the classroom and in your building. Most traditional action plans include space for defining the goal, documenting what steps you are going to take to achieve it, and who will take the steps. I have spent the past year working with a Logic Model as an evidence based approach to action planning. What I like best is the focus not just on planning action, but collecting evidence that the action is complete along with evidence of the impact of that action. Logic Models encourage you to have conversations around assumptions you are making about the work. Often, these assumptions, when not discussed or addressed, lead to frustration and communication gaps. For the past year, I have used Logic Models in planning for whole district initiatives, like our high school chromebook roll-out. I have also used Logic Models for smaller goals, including keeping a focus on text complexity and writing good text dependent questions. Logic Models could also be modified to be used as templates for Unit Planning or differentiating instruction for English Learners or Gifted Students.
The first step in starting a Logic Model is to identify your goal. This might be a set of standards based learning goals that will be the center of an instructional unit. The goal might also have a broader project or initiative focus. Ideally, you should be collaborating with your grade level team, building leadership team or district team to frame your goal. Next, connect that goal to the broader vision. How does this work fit into the broader work of your classroom, building or district? Once you have identified your goal, the next step is not to start planning action. Instead, take time to talk through the assumptions you are making about the students or staff that are going to be impacted by the work. What prior learning or experience are you assuming they will bring to this work? How are you going to connect this goal to their existing practices or beliefs? The reflection on assumptions will also help you to identify possible barriers. Identifying a true barrier that will need to be worked around, or an attitude or mindset that may need to be shifted in order for the goal to succeed, will help in thinking through possible action steps and evidence of outcomes. Planning the action steps can be done next. As you think through action steps, identify resources you have or will need. Resources can be time, materials, human capital, or financial. If you don’t have access to the resources you need, include in your action steps a plan for acquiring that resource. The real benefit of the Logic Model is in the last two steps. Take time to identify what evidence will be gathered to show that the action has been completed. This might be an agenda, minutes, emails, anecdotal records or student work. More importantly, have a collaborative discussion on what evidence of impact or outcome of the work you will want to see or hear. What will teachers or students or staff sound like, or act like if the action step in having a impact on moving them toward a goal?
There are 4 levels of outcomes to think about when deciding on the mindful collection of evidence of impact.
Level 1: Reaction
At this level, evidence of impact might be pushback or a lot of questions on why we are doing this or learning this. Often this evidence of impact is overlooked, or is seen in a negative light. Really, it is evidence that the learners are having to re-examine their own thinking or beliefs and seeing how this new information or idea might fit or not fit into this. Pay attention to the pushback comments or questions. You may need to adjust or add an action step to help move this group forward.
Level 2: Learning
Evidence of learning might include a shift in questions from “Why are we doing/learning this” to “How do I…?” or “Maybe I could try…” Much of this evidence will be anecdotal comments heard in a class or in a team meeting. You might consider using a Google Form or a Reflection document to capture these comments and shifts in thinking.
Level 3: Behavior/Attitude Shifts
By the time students or staff start to show evidence of Level 3 outcomes, they are trying out the new skills, applying the new strategies in a small setting or as a pilot, or starting to grow their own learning around the goal. You might hear students expressing a more sophisticated approach to a task, or hear teachers talking about applying strategies or ideas to an upcoming unit.
Level 4: Results
This is full buy-in. There has been a change in attitudes or in skills that is evident across an entire class, grade level, building or district. Students or teachers regularly demonstrate their new learning or skills in their daily work. A common vocabulary has been developed and everyone now has incorporated the new skill, strategy or idea into their own belief system. Evidence at this level might include shifts in district or grade level data, requests for additional “next step training”, increase in student success or the success of a subgroup.
I have learned a lot about using Logic Models from the team at Bellwether Education Partners and the Collaborative for Student Success Teacher Champions Fellowship. Using Logic Models has really changed the way I think about planning and following up on my own work, both as a Curriculum Director and as an educator leader. I have now started to create 2 folders in my Google Drive at the beginning of each new Logic Model to help me gather evidence of the work I have done, and evidence of the impact of my work. Focusing on evidence of impact at all four outcome levels has really nurtured my own positive mindset about my work and the work of the teams I am a part of!
This LINK will take you to a blank logic model in Google Docs. Feel free to make a copy for yourself by clicking on FILE —MAKE A COPY.
This LINK will take you to a Logic Model that has reflection questions for each component.