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LDC/MDC: Making a difference in NC!

In the past three years, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) has trained more than 6,000 teachers in Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Math Design Collaborative (MDC) in 38 states. SREB has secured grant funds to partner with school districts in North Carolina over the next five years so that participating school districts can build teacher and school capacity in mathematics and literacy instructional practices that prepare students to meet the rigorous expectations of college and career ready standards.

These literacy and math strategies help teachers discover how to design learning that engages students to perform at higher levels as they read challenging text, communicate their understanding in writing and solve complex problems.

Cohort 1 began in February, and teachers are already reporting significant improvement in student work and performance after only three days of teacher training.  

Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC)

These literacy strategy and tools ensure that every student graduates from high school with the literacy skills necessary for success in college and career. They provide a common framework upon which teachers can individually or collaboratively build literacy-rich assignments in their content areas in ways that both advance literacy skills and advance knowledge and understanding in the content field. This approach to planning instruction includes all content areas except math and is based on teachers engaging students in:

  • regular practice with complex grade level text and its academic language;
  • reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational, and
  • building knowledge through reading and writing about content-rich nonfiction material.

Utilizing modules as the basic framework, these tools consists of two-to-four weeks of learning incorporating a “teaching task,” standards, “mini-tasks” and other key components such as an instructional plan and assessments. In developing modules, teachers develop a literacy-rich task, based on state standards, and design instruction to help students complete the task. The result is a high-quality assignment that provides the student with the literacy skills needed to successfully meet college- and career-ready standards.

Math Design Collaborative (MDC)

The mathematics strategies provide teachers not with a math curriculum but with teaching tools called formative assessment lessons. These help teachers know if their students truly understand and can apply the math standards they have been taught. Teachers select and launch the appropriate formative assessment assignments about three-quarters of the way through a unit. This model of instruction is based on teachers engaging students with:

  • opportunities to perform the state Standards for Mathematical Practice;
  • assignments that engage students in productive struggle with mathematics; and
  • assignments that elicit evidence of conceptual understanding, procedural fluency and application of mathematics.

As a consequence, teachers witness growth in students’ ability to solve problems and see significant improvement in math achievement. The framework is formative assessment lessons (FALs), which are aligned to state college- and career-ready standards and are also designed to be embedded within courses. The FALs are a major innovation in teaching and learning math — focusing on student understanding of math concepts and allowing students to engage in a productive struggle and make sense of math concepts. Teachers also learn to determine what changes in content and instructional strategies are needed to enable students to master rigorous standards and engage students in reasoning, increasing their ability to think through math problems.

How the Grant for LDC/MDC Works

Selected Teacher Leaders

SREB provides intensive training for four literacy and two math teachers per participating school, along with a separate two-day principal training. All training is followed up with onsite visits; SREB covers all costs of training and a portion of the cost for substitute teachers and other expenses. Teachers selected to participate become experts in these strategies and are instrumental in spreading the practices to other teachers in their school.

School Leaders

 SREB provides each participating school’s administrative team with two days of training in practices that support the school’s implementation of these strategies and tools. The two main topics in the leadership training are:

  • what to look for in classrooms and how that aligns with the North Carolina Continuum of Teacher Development, and
  • how to develop and support professional learning communities around these strategies.

Further, principals are expected to attend each session, and there is time within the session for school leaders to break-out into discussions.  

The SREB LDC/MDC implementation model is based upon key professional development best practices –collaboration and utilization of teacher leader school teams, multiple sessions over a three-year period and ongoing quality coaching and support from SREB trainers and local school/district coaches.

To see how your students can benefit from these mathematics and literacy instructional practices, read about success stories in the SREB publication Students Step Up When Teachers and Leaders Transform Classrooms.


Development of Cohort 2 is underway and begins in mid-August. Call ASAP to reserve space for your team(s)!

For more information, contact Donna Peters, donnapeters3@yahoo.com, 910-220-5955.

Donna Cox Peters

Donna Cox Peters is the SREB state lead. She is a retired superintendent, and in 2010, she was the A. Craig Phillips Superintendent of the Year.