February 12, 2016

Graduate Credit for Teachers by Designing Your Own Course

Teachers – imagine earning graduate credit for a course you create!

Unique to Learners Edge is our iCourse, an independent study course where you design the course based on a textbook you select. Your Learners Edge iCourse advisor will guide you through the process!

Theresa Senft, a teacher at Madison, Wisconsin’s Lindbergh Elementary School recently enrolled in the iCourse after gaining approval to use the book PRACTICE PERFECT: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi.

In her coursework, Theresa’s included a list of activities her students can complete independently, and for which they can practice as the authors from Practice Perfect recommend, along with the criteria for the activities.

Here is an excerpt from Theresa’s iCourse:

My first-grade students engage in a great deal of daily independent work. During our daily literacy block, I work with small, guided reading groups for an hour and a half. During this time, students that are not working with a teacher are expected to work on various activities independently.


  • Rereading familiar texts from their book boxes
  • Word work that includes completing picture sorts and word sortsincluding non-sense words and words selected for their current needs
  • Writing high-frequency words on various mediums including screens,windows, small dry erase boards, large whiteboards, a chalkboard, notebooks, and checklists


  • They are at the child’s independent level—i.e. the child is capable ofcompleting them easily by him or herself
  • They will have a direct impact on the child’s reading and writing
  • They are engaging to the student
  • They are predictable; i.e. children know what they are expected to do
  • They evolve to match the child’s current needs and level
  • They provide variety

Included with the iCourse Theresa created her unique resource library. As you can see in her list, she’s included article and books on “success” and “practice.” She recommends:


1. Bronson, Po. “How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise”, New York Magazine, http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/, April 15, 2014. I selected this informative article regarding Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets. The author explains the differential impact on motivation and performance of praising intelligence as opposed to effort (i.e. practice). The author cites related studies. The article is written from a parental perspective. It could easily be shared with other education professionals or parents.

2. Coyle, Daniel. The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Skills. New York: Bantam, 2012. This text is based on the research presented by Daniel Coyle in The Talent Code. It contains 52 easily implemented tips for improving any kind of skill through practice. Many contain vignettes that illustrate the tool in use. I’ve selected the text because Coyle has distilled his research into small, actionable nuggets that can be immediately applied by the teacher or coach.

3. Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. New York: Bantam Dell, 2009. Coyle busts the myth that talent is innate. While not written for exclusively for teachers, the text explores the neuroscience that underlies success. I found the anecdotes inspirational and refreshing. I feel that education gets stuck inside it’s own narrow frame; sometimes it’s also helpful to look at success outside the field.

The Learners Edge iCourse allows you to pursue a topic in which you are passionate about or an area in which you need to focus on within your classroom. As you can see, based on her reading and research, Ms Senft implemented best practices for high quality, independent learning literacy block in her first grade classroom. Now that’s quite an accomplishment in a first grade classroom!

Interested in a topic but not finding the perfect course? Design your own professional development for teachers. Explore the Learners Edge iCourse now!

Learners Edge is passionately committed to providing you with continuing education coursework, materials, and tools that will help you succeed in your classroom and in your career.

Offering more than 120 online courses for teachers, you can earn the graduate credit you need for salary advancement and meet your professional development needs. Contact us today to get started!


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