Two promising developments stood out on two trips to Columbus last month. The first is the four term Mayor's Education Commission focused on revitalizing Columbus City Schools. The second is first ring suburban districts charting the path forward.

Urban districts trying to ensure consistent rigor in every classroom have implemented programs of managed instruction--a common curriculum, shared lesson plans, pacing guides, periodic assessments, and associated professional development. While these programs can feel stifling, they often lead to incremental improvement.

"Schemas are context-sensitive connections that help us understand," said Matthew Peterson, Chief Scientist and co-founder of MIND Research Institute at a recent Neuroscience Symposium. "Experiences that build and apply these connections are called learning."

The Digital Learning Now! Smart Series is a group of collaborative papers that bring together top thinkers on the current trends in teaching and learning to explore the implementation challenges at the intersection of digital learning and the Common Core.

Moss Pike was raised in Las Vegas, studied Physics at Cornell University, and after a summer class in the classics found himself working on an M.A. in Classics at UCLA. He teaches Latin at the Harvard-Westlake School (HW), is the Middle School Dean of Faculty, and a regional leader in Greek and Latin linguistics and pedagogy.

Running the San Diego County Office of Education seems pretty tame after tours of duty as state administrator in Oakland and Compton, but Randy Ward argues that county offices are more relevant than ever. With half a million kids and 42 districts there's plenty to worry about.

Performance contracting is a services agreement with clear outcomes. States and districts have been using performance contracts for public charter schools, private school special education placements, information and business services, and for energy efficiency partnerships.

Despite steady progress on achievement and graduation rates, big gaps remain. Earlier this month Ted Kolderie, Education Evolving, addressed state charter school leaders. He made six important points addressed in this blog.

Have you ever thought about bringing great education to the world's poorest neighborhoods? Now may be time. Bridge International Academies is expanding and Pearson is investing in the growth of similar networks across the developing world.

The Literacy Design Collaborative 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 concept is to give teachers tools (mostly offline but soon to be online) that enable them to transform the Common Core into classroom action by giving teacher the literacy resources to build student's college ready literacy skills through their existing content lens.

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.

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