In a nutshell, STAR Online is an online solution for implementing and supporting Powerful Teaching and Learning in your classroom, school, or district. It is a free service for educational professionals, and a supporting service for those who we help with their School Improvement efforts.
But, What Is Powerful Teaching and Learning?
Put simply, Powerful Teaching and Learning helps all kids learn.
How Do I Implement It?
The short answer is, the implementation is up to you, the education professional. Fortunately, we’ve created many tools to help you gain an understanding of the Powerful Teaching and Learning best practices and develop the habits of implementing them.
How Do I Develop It?
First, we organized the elements of Powerful Teaching and Learning into an instructional framework made up of four categories: Skills/knowledge Thinking Application and Relationships. The STAR Framework gives teachers a clear structure to understand the various Powerful Teaching and Learning best practices. It also provides a common language for educators to use when discussing teaching and learning with their colleagues.
Next, we formatted the STAR Framework into a classroom observation protocol. The STAR Protocol is a research tool that puts the STAR Framework into a deductive format (mark what you saw, rather than define and list what you saw). You use it while conducting STAR Learning Walks to reflect on your own practices and make commitments to change. You can then turn your commitments into action with STAR Lesson Plans that are built to intentionally improve Powerful Teaching and Learning.
Finally, we developed a safe, reflective process to encourage and develop Powerful Teaching and Learning. Our research shows that teachers change their practices when they: See instruction (using the STAR Protocol), Talk about instruction using a common language (the STAR Framework), intentionally Apply their observations to the classroom (building STAR Lesson Plans) and continually Reflect on their instruction (practiced throughout). See, Talk, Apply Reflect. This is the STAR Process.
These are the practices that we’ve found to effectively inspire change: observing instruction, using common language, intentionally planning lessons, and continually reflecting. These are also the practices that STAR Online facilitates. Goal setting, classroom videos, the STAR Framework, Learning Walks, a Lesson Planner, and supporting documents, such as the STAR Protocol, are all available for your use to support your instructional improvement efforts.
Is STAR Online Necessary to Change?
The hardest part about doing it is sticking with it long enough to change your pedagogical habits. This is standard human behavior. Ever tried changing your spending habits or your diet? It's hard to change. That's why we're hard at work developing as many tools as possible, from "paper" products to STAR Online, to make this change as easy and long-lasting as possible for you.
How Do I Really Get Started?
If a digital solution better fits your needs, you'll want to take a look at STAR Online. There are two "versions" of STAR Online: the Free Personal Account (which you can create) and the Organization Account (which we create for you).
Comparing the Versions of STAR Online
Also, STAR Online is a service that can and will continue to develop and improve down the road as we work towards building out the best online platform that we can. The details provided below are accurate as of this writing. If you want the latest-and-greatest details or a chance to offer some input, check out the STAR Online Blog.
Free Personal Account
The focus of the Free Personal Account is on individual lesson planning. Specifically, it's about intentionally planning your lessons for instruction that is highly-aligned with Powerful Teaching and Learning. If you are wanting to start improving your instruction independently or with your PLC, but your organization has not started moving in this direction, then this version is perfect for you.
The focus of the Building Account is on systemic support of continuously improving your school or districts alignment with Powerful Teaching and Learning. It includes and expands upon the functionality that's in the Free Personal Account and allows entire schools or districts to work together on improving their instruction with training from The BERC Group.
Modules Overview and Details
Free Personal Account
In addition to the Home dashboard page, you have access to a Framework module (the STAR Framework), a Lesson Planner module, and a Videos module. The Upgrade + tab allows you to request an account upgrade.
Expand upon the functionality provided in the free version and gain access to the SMART Goals module, the Learning Walks module, and the Manage Building for custom settings.