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A culture shift doesn’t happen overnight. Minneapolis Public Schools is in the process of making a shift in how we are supporting and advancing student learning in every classroom. The district has adopted a teaching and learning framework (IFL or the Institute for Learning) which helps guide our decisions about what we teach, how we teach and most importantly, how students learn and what we do when they don’t. There are nine principles of learning that are key to helping your student learn. It is our belief that students can get smarter given expert instruction, time on meaningful tasks and effort. We are working on establishing school environments that routinely challenge learners to use strategies that foster thinking about learning and learning to think.

As a parent, it is important to know how these principles can help your child succeed. The  four  Principles of Learning that staff are working on to drive instruction this year include:

If we expect  all students to achieve at high levels then we need to define explicitly what we expect students to learn. As parents you should know what your students are expected to learn and how they will be graded. Your child will also understand the steps they need to take to accomplish the work.
Questions to Consider: Do you know what is expected of your student in each unit? Does your child know how they can improve their work? Does your child know what they are learning and why?

Thinking and problem-solving and knowledge are linked together. The curriculum is organized around core concepts. Students learn thinking skills when they are taught how to ask questions, solve problems, make predictions, justify their thinking and develop explanations to test their own understanding of the
concepts. In every assignment students are asked to think and reason.
Questions to Consider: Does your student have to interpret what they read and explain their thinking?  Does your student regularly reflect on how they are learning and what strategies they are using to learn?

Talking with others about ideas and work is essential to learning.  Classroom talk that promotes learning must be accountable to the learning community, to accurate knowledge and to rigorous thinking. Students use evidence to back up thinking. In classrooms a high percentage of talk is by and among students – not the teacher. Students participate in Accountable  Talk in instructional discussions, whole group and small group, peer and student-teacher conferences.
Questions to Consider: Does your student ask questions to learn? Is your student asked to explain their thinking, back up their thinking with evidence and build ideas in class or in their work?


We believe every student has a right to know what they are being asked to do and why and they have a right  and obligation to ask questions if they don’t understand. We also believe students can do the work  they are asked to do in school if they have been taught tools  and strategies.
Questions to Consider: Is your student taking responsibility for their work? Is your student able to explain what they are learning and the things they are using to learn? Are they developing ways to guide their thinking?

Our leaders and teachers are committed to this work and the belief that all  students can learn and this should be evident in our schools. For more information about IFL you can contact Dr. Beth Russell at 668-0218 or through e-mail: