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The Learning Ladder™ shown in the diagram below is part of the 30 day lesson development process discussed in last Monday’s blog. In the 30 day planning process teachers establish an overall learning goal that is represented at the top of the ladder. Teachers then create daily targets that build on each other to help students take each step up the ladder. As students try to climb the ladder, teachers create ways for students to receive very specific feedback as they are practicing. Teachers and students alike identify student strengths and learning gaps so students can improve their performance. As students continue to move up the ladder they gain more confidence in their learning ability, become more engaged each day, and work hard to achieve the final learning targets.

Anytime students take steps down the ladder, teachers intervene with new instructional strategies to move them back up rather than further down. Each step represents a small segment of instruction that helps students achieve the final learning goal. That is, students see how the first step connects to the second step and so on. They also see that if they first tackle step one they will be more likely to make it to step two. Naturally then, moving from step one to step five bypassing the steps in between becomes an illogical and less successful path to take. On the right side of the ladder we see that as students successfully take each step they build confidence and become more engaged learners.

What’s the key to helping students getting to the top?

  • Aligned learning targets all the way up
  • Practice sessions for students to apply their learning
  • Coaching from teachers and peers using specific feedback in between steps

As teachers our number one goal is to guide our students to reach their highest potential. We do this by creating learning environments where our students feel a new understanding of the skill needed to help them climb to the top of many learning ladders.



This blog was contributed by Dr. Janet Pilcher. For more information about The Learning Ladder™ see Pilcher, J. K. 2010. Who’s Engaged? Climb the Learning Ladder to See.

TeacherReady® is state approved and is the Educator Preparation Institute of the NCATE accredited Professional Education Unit at the University of West Florida. In addition to placements in over 400 public schools, TeacherReady teachers have been placed in 149 different international, private, and charter schools. The TeacherReady curriculum is grounded in the Student Engagement Framework. To learn more about TeacherReady teachers or to read about some of their experiences visit them at http://www.TeacherReady.org or on Facebook.

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