Participating Teachers

ELM Project Participants

The Enhanced Learning Maps (ELM) project provided professional development, instructional resources, and learning maps tied to standard in mathematics and English language arts to 376 teachers of students in grades 2–8 in Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin.

The ELM research team produced 309 neighborhood maps for mathematics and 59 neighborhood maps for English language arts. A total of 85 companion resource packages were also created. Each resource package contains:

  • Unit Contents
  • Learning Map Tool
  • Teacher Notes
  • Instructional Activities
    • Guiding Questions/ Checking for Understanding Questions
  • Student Activity/ Handouts
  • Passages
  • Solution Guide/ Student Feedback Guide

Participating teachers received access to all the resources produced by the ELM project for implementing a robust formative assessment process. Teacher implementation of learning maps and resources in the classroom helped bridge the gap between teaching theory and practice, and teacher use of ELM resources in instruction proved the value of the learning maps and resources in authentic settings in over 119 school districts and 214 schools.

Between 2016 and 2018, feedback from teachers using the maps and resources in their classroom provided valuable feedback for researchers to make iterative improvements to the ELM resources.

Teachers provide the ELM research team with invaluable insight into the connection between an appropriately implemented formative assessment process and true achievement gains among students.

In their own words, teachers had this to say about the benefits and value of the maps and resources:

Questioning strategies

“I think that I have always thought that questioning is important, and the right style of questioning, the right question at the right time. But these materials lay the questions out sequentially to build the kids' knowledge, and I cannot even imagine what it takes to create materials like this that are so—just the sequence of questions. I think sometimes the kids are even surprised by the time we get to the end of a day or two at what they are able to do because of these questions, these deep questions that they have been asked.”

Identifying and addressing gaps in instruction

“I used to throw in, ‘Maybe they just need another lesson. If I just picked out a better picture book. I just need a better piece of text.’ Now with some of those questions I can pinpoint those misconceptions instead of just throwing another lesson at them. That is not really going to fix the problem. Now I am able to pinpoint maybe a gap or a missing link.”

The use of the learning maps and resources influenced how teachers think about the progression of learning

“I think in my head I have always recognized the importance of that progression across grade levels, that vertical alignment. But the [ELM] materials put it in your hands. Not just I should know what the precursor skills are and the skills coming up, but they are there, and I can see them and access them so easily. I think that it is important for us as educators to really have a good grasp of where kids are coming from and where they are going rather than just where they are right now this minute.”

“I used to throw a dart at the standards and hope I hit where they are at (with their learning). But you know, when they had something that they were missing, you really did not know where to go with that. You had no concept of, ‘What do I need to go back and teach that will help them to get here? I do not know what was back there. That was a second-grade or a third-grade or a fifth-grade skill. What are they missing?’ …(now) I do not have to throw darts at the wall.”

Teachers agreed that use of the maps helped them to individualize instruction.

I left [the training in] Kansas thinking, ‘How can I make little, small, independent groups, and how can we move forward while I am reteaching this or doing this other piece?’ In reality, especially after that first year, what it helped me with the most was helping the struggling kiddos, and then I had the opportunity to go, ‘Okay, how can we also use it for the advanced [learners]?”

“It did help with MTSS and that is a big issue — trying to find things to figure out what to use with these students for MTSS and trying to narrow them down, exactly where they are at when you are teaching them.”

Participants receive access to

  • Interactive maps, useful for identifying where students are in the learning process;
  • Specially designed activities for eliciting evidence of student learning;
  • Tools for interpreting student work and adjusting instruction accordingly; and
  • Dedicated support staff, who can assist in using the ELM software, implementing lessons and activities in the classroom, and evaluating student work in light of the learning map model.