LessonCast – Web-based software to connect professional learning and classroom practice


The LessonCast Story

In January of 2010 Nicole Tucker Smith designed the LessonCast process to support an innovative professional development practice she invented while serving as an assistant principal in a zero-based school.

She and her engineer/marketer husband Khalid Smith built the first version of a service where teachers could create and collaborate using this new digital communication tool, a lessoncast. What sets LessonCast apart from other lesson plan or teacher sharing sites is that lessoncasts are designed to be easily absorbed, evaluated for quality, reapplied, and modified.

Lessoncasts are modeled after the compact teacher-to-teacher conversations long employed by highly effective educators. The process was designed not just to help teachers get through a particular lesson, but to improve instruction and multiply the effects of great teaching.

Effective Communities Learn in Public

Lessoncast tools accelerate the development of trusting cultures of collaboration.
–  Co-developing shared expectations for effective practices builds trust.
–  Creating concrete actionable resources as part of the professional learning process facilitates sharing of new ideas.
–  Lessoncasts provide a low-risk starting point for peer interactions, including coaching, collaboration, and observation.

Make the Implicit Explicit

The rigorous process of uncovering insights behind quality instruction helps educators see beyond what’s discernable by simply watching model lessons. Lessoncast creation promises new methodologies for acquiring and demonstrating deep understanding.

Creation as Professional Learning

The lessoncast creation process is itself a professional learning experience. As teachers explore and explain how they plan to put new ideas into practice, their learning process produces resources for other educators.

Constraints Create Clarity

Constraints built into the creation process ensure each lessoncast is a concise examination of the essentials for increasing student learning.

–  The storytelling framework structures clear communication.
–  If more than 3 minutes are needed, either the topic is too broad or the explanation is unclear.
–  Fewer design options ensure that visuals enhance communication not decoration.
–  Limiting the target audience to teachers (not students) elevates communication to focus on insights, the “why” behind effective instruction.

Learning Produces Artifacts with Real-World Significance

Lessoncasts are living learning artifacts – sharable as part of an educator’s portfolio, connected to visible improvement in classroom practice, and evidence of a community’s professional learning journey.

How Lessoncast works for teacher preparation

Course Instructors use Lessoncast to craft assignments that involve creatinge-portfolio artifacts to demonstrate mastery of teaching practices.

Assignments feature:

  • Alignment to relevant standards
  • K12 student assessment tasks
  • Video clips demonstrating classroom implementation
  • Samples of student work
  • Analysis of instruction
  • References to research and theory

How Lessoncast works for K12 school PD

Principals & instructional coaches recommend Lessoncast PD modules, aligned to a school or
district’s instructional framework, as part of post-observation feedback.

Modules include high-leverage teaching practices like:

  • Checking for understanding
  • Implementing efficient routines
  • Planning instruction to meet learners’ needs

Teaches share examples of what effective implementation of an instructional practice looks like.

Show artifacts of effective planning and professional growth.

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