Grade 1 Teacher, Linden Elementary School, Fremont, Nebraska
I have utilized Lee Jenkins’ LtoJ® process for 7 years now in my grade 1 class. I will share my joy with the process, but first of all – my daughter. My two older sons did not have LtoJ® in their elementary schools and thus learned how to cram/forget starting with grade 1 spelling. Because I learned that students never need to experience the terrible cram/forget process, I moved my daughter over to my school so she could experience LtoJ® and continue learning/remembering. For my own child, LtoJ® is really important, but now onto my story.
The three grade 1 teachers started LtoJ® with math standards and now, in addition to math standards, we are tracking spelling and math fluency. I think the joy for students and teachers is the same – such fun with All-Time-Bests for individuals, classes, and the whole school. For example, this year we had ATB’s 5 weeks in a row with math fluency.
LtoJ® is a great progress monitoring process for student learning. It is a quick check telling me if they have retained what I taught. If not, I know what needs to be re-taught. At other times, I learn, “Oh, wow – they already know what I was planning on teaching.”
I need to add that the students become very good at graphing; it is almost self-taught. Then when cthe total is added up for the class, we compare the new score with the prior best score using <, > or = for scores that are very meaningful to the students.
In order to obtain the total correct for the school fourth grade students in our K-4 school come into my classroom every week to look at our graphs and note our total for both spelling and math fluency. They gather the totals from every classroom, add up these numerals, and update the graph by the office for the school-wide total. When the school has an ATB, the principal announces it and all students celebrate with a 3-minute dance. Maybe the best part is the students love seeing the teachers dance with equal joy. The kids think this is hilarious.
One of the best aspects of LtoJ® is that it is a process and not a pre-packed program. This means teachers in PLC’s can adjust the questions and the key concept lists. For example, we have built our math standards quizzes with input from state standards, our curriculum, MAPS and our
I cannot imagine teaching without LtoJ®. Fortunately, our school district is very supportive of the process; but if they ever dropped their support I would continue with LtoJ® anyway. Always thinking about learning,
Staff Developer, Retired, Educational Service Unit 7, Columbus, Nebraska
- There are four major differences between Lee Jenkins’ LtoJ® process and other educational initiatives. The focus is entirely on long-term memory – no more cram/forget or know it today, relearn it tomorrow, or start over next year.
- Every classroom becomes a team working together because they receive almost weekly feedback about how well the team is performing. Having worked with many initiatives, I know of no other staff development opportunities that add up each student’s contribution to have a team total.
- Lee’s process works with any grade level and any subject. Works even better if aligned across grade levels.
- Expectations are transparent. In the first week of a new year/course every student is provided the key concepts they will learn over the whole year/course.
Additional thoughts I want to add are:
- We all know that success breeds success. Wow, is this ever evident with the LtoJ® process!
- Students always know what they have learned, what’s next and how to proceed.
- The progress of the class is an “open book,” very visible for all to celebrate individually and as a team.
- The process is not limited to classroom growth. It is equally applied to students, grade levels, departments and even schools.
- Because administrators have key responsibilities with this process, the joy is equal for students, teachers and principals. As with most initiatives, administrative leadership is essential.
Superintendent, Marcola School District, Marcola, Oregon
This graph above has impacted my career for twenty years – what a tragedy! Lee Jenkins first created this graph with students asking them about their attitude toward school and then later by asking teachers from multiple states. The simple question was, “What grade level do you teach and what percent of students love school?” The same exact information came from students and from teachers.
The good news is that Lee Jenkins’ message has much to do with a solution to the problem.
Lee teaches that we can implement a growth mindset in every classroom. Our fixed mindset system of education is especially harmful to students who have experienced trauma in their lives. Instead of adding layers of pain upon these kids we can provide significant help. The growth mindset process Lee teaches is crucial for these traumatized kids.
Lee’s process has the same level of engagement as many of the games that kids play. We know that if the loss of enthusiasm is ever reversed it will be because kids are engaged with impactful learning every year, Pre-K to 12.
An opportunity awaits you and your colleagues…
Principal, Wilson Elementary School, Norman, Oklahoma
First of all I want to state that what Lee Jenkins teachers just plain makes sense. We educators are bombarded with so many suggestions and requirements that having a process that makes sense to
students, parents and teachers is powerful.
The students immediately accept ownership of their learning. It is easy for them to set goals because they know the goal is improving over past learning. Making the learning visual means so much to everyone.
A key to the success of the LtoJ process is the fun we all have celebrating successful learning. The kids observe and celebrate whole school, classroom and individual success. Such Fun!
One of the major advantages of LtoJ, reported by teachers, is now helpful the graphs are for parent conferences. Parents see the evidence of learning. Also, when we have IEP’s, the graphs play a very important part in our deliberations.
Last of all: the process keeps up focused all year. It is so easy to start off the school year with the best of intentions and then be overwhelmed with minutiae. With LtoJ we keep pushing forward even the last day of the school year.
Grade 5 Teacher, South Sioux City, Nebraska
Coming out of college as a first-year teacher you have no idea where to start. Lee Jenkins provides the road map all teachers, K-12, need to organize, teach and be successful. The process he teaches even preserves students’ intrinsic motivation. The tools are equally powerful for students and teachers; they never fail. Even the most struggling students experience great success. Team spirit is greatly enhanced in the class as joy abounds in the unified atmosphere.
Principal, Linden Elementary School, Fremont, Nebraska
Lee Jenkins’ LtoJ® is a process that focuses solely on growth. Students are able to visually see this growth by becoming involved with the graphing. I love how it changes their mindset from
how many I got wrong to, I know more than I have ever known before!
Of course, I could say more, but mindset is a big one for me - especially as a parent of students who take the LtoJ® quizzes!
Grade 8 Science Teacher, Issaquah WA School District
Lee Jenkins has been my boss, mentor, colleague and friend for nearly 30 years. No other person has influenced my career more. He has a gift for seeing into people and situations others do not have. He has a level of caring and sense making that can simplify complex ideas into doable practices anyone can implement. It is his insightful ability that enabled him to hear what no one else heard at a W. Edwards
Deming conference for educators in the early 90’s. He took the complex ideas, simplified them into a language that educators could understand and infused them with his unique style of caring that resulted in classroom practices that effectively improve learning and enthusiasm. It was this insightful ability that also enabled him to see in me, abilities that I did not know I had. Those abilities, and his mentorship, led to me becoming a much better teacher and an educational consultant that has taught teachers in 27 states and 5 countries. I know that all who hear him speak now, and in the future, will appreciate his insights, feel his caring and grow as a professional educator.
Jim Hawkins, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Educational Leadership, Cameron University, Lawton, Oklahoma
Lee Jenkins provides:
- ...a new way of thinking based on longitudinal data collection used to improve continuously the processes we use in schools as administrators.
- ...a benchmark not only of how we did today but how we do each and every day by labeling levels of achievement as all-time-bests.
- ...a method utilizing the team approach (class approach) in tracking progress, as well as
individual progress in monitoring learning/achievement.
- ...a deep look into decades old education problems such as cram/forget, data used to discourage, and change without any evidence of improvement. THEN he provides solutions thatare simple and profound.
Superintendent, Centura School District, Cairo, Nebraska
What Lee Jenkins teaches makes teaching very concise. When teachers write and provide their students with the year’s key concepts it really keeps the classroom focused. Teachers say, “Here’s what you will know at the end of the year.” Then when the year comes to a close and the students realize that they have learned what the teacher said they would learn, it is so very powerful! This “having the end in mind” is crucial; it is like being on a plane and tracking progress toward the destination—a visual map always.
Because there is always a class total the kids become cheerleaders for each other. Not only does this model real life, it is really important in our time.
Recently we have learned from Lee how to calculate the effect size for each of our teachers. When the students and teachers learn that their learning is 3-6 times the average they are very impressed with themselves. The reason for this amazing effect is attributed to not allowing them
As an administrator I just love going into classrooms and studying the learning as displayed on the classroom graphs. The kids can explain all the charts to me. They “get it.”
Grade 12 Government Teacher, Brookings High School, Brookings, South Dakota
As an American Government teacher, I feel a great responsibility in ensuring that all students understand and recognize certain crucial elements of our American Constitutional system. These ideals are essential for an effective democracy. When I attended Lee Jenkins’ workshop in the summer of 2016, I knew that the Key Concept system was exactly what I needed to motivate my senior level students and provide me with the needed evidence to show that students were proficient at the end of semester. How does this system work in my classroom? In creating my Key Concept list, I incorporated content from our state standards and from the United States citizenship exam. This list of the most important facets of our Governmental system is given to the students at the beginning of the school year and referenced during each of my daily lessons. Once a week I give students an ungraded quiz, randomly assessing ten concepts from the list. Students chart their correct scores and as individuals and as a class. We celebrate when we increase our “All Time Best” score. My 12th grade students have come to enjoy this time during the week; they are excited for the challenge of remembering material already taught and identifying material they have yet to learn. Their buy-in is obvious. Since incorporating this activity into my class, my final exam scores have increased and I feel that all students leave my classroom with a greater understanding, than ever before, of the how the Government works.
Principal, Massac Junior High School, Metropolis, Illinois
There are many aspects of Lee Jenkins’ LtoJ® process that I could write about, but because of a conversation with my middle school health teacher yesterday I want to focus upon preview.
Educators recognize the value of a process that reviews previously taught materials. This is what I first thought the major value of Lee’s teaching was. And while the review aspect is valuable, the preview is even more important.
In our school students take the comprehensive end-of-year exam five times – pre-test and then at the end of each quarter. Now to the conversation with the health teacher: We are both amazed at how many questions students are answering correctly on the comprehensive exam for content that has not yet been taught. How can they do this? It is because every week they are taking a non-graded LtoJ® quiz on a random sample of questions about the year’s content. From these short explanations of the answers each week, students are learning the content. This is what has caused us to believe that preview is the most important aspect of Lee Jenkins’ teaching.
Because students are learning content faster through the preview questions teachers have extra time in the classroom. What do they do with this time? They spend more time on content they may have rushed through before. For example, the health teacher used the time for developing expertise with CPR.
Preview is huge! I love it!
Year 3, 4, 5 Spanish Teacher/Department Chairperson, Columbus High School, Columbus, Nebraska
Throughout my teaching career we have had a lot of initiatives, but they all go back to the LtoJ® process. For example, we started PLC’s in our district. The first step for PLC’s to be successful is for the group members to be on the same page. We were all already there with the LtoJ® process which required us to separate essentials from trivia and agree on the essentials.
Then along came common formative assessments. Done. We were already doing this with LtoJ®. Our assessments were not only formative, but the results were created in a way that they were easy to use the feedback to alter our instruction.
Now we are being evaluated using Marzano’s process. Guess what? Most of domain 1 is included in the LtoJ® process. For example, we provide clear learning expectations for the whole year the first week of school, we track learning progress almost every week for each individual and for the whole class and we celebrate when we have all-time-bests.
Should my school district ever decide to abandon their efforts with LtoJ® I would continue on my own. The constant review of what has been already taught and the constant preview of what is yet to be taught is crucial for student success!
The teamwork with LtoJ® is so very powerful—no other practice in education causes every classroom to function as a team. We all come together; everyone counts!
The days I give my LtoJ® quizzes the students are so relaxed; there is no stress or worry. The quizzes are not graded. After the quiz students exchange papers for scoring. The students not only mark incorrect answers they must write in the correct answer. We then add up the total correct for the whole class (recorded on Class Run Chart) and if it is an All-Time-Best we first check with our “student inspector.” If every incorrect answer has been annotated with the correct answer, then we are able to celebrate our ATB.
Orchestra and Vocal Music, Wilmer Amina Carter High School, Rialto, California
Automaticity with 6 major and 5 minor scales is the focus of my LtoJ® implementation. I have always known how important it is for my students to have automaticity with scales. Consequently I “preached” this importance to them; it didn’t work.
Now, with the LtoJ® process I am seeing great improvement in students’ ability to play the scales with accuracy and a minimum of 120 beats per minute. Here is my LtoJ® process:
First week of school we collect baseline data. This is done by selecting one of the 11 scales at random and then selecting 4 students every day to play the two-octave scale. Almost all rubric
scores, on our 1-4 dichotomous rubric scale are 1 this first week of school. We add up the total rubric scores for the week and now our goal is to outperform this score.
For the rest of the first semester I teach the scales one by one in a logical order. Each day 4 students are selected at random to play the scale. Because it is random, selected students can be
chosen more than once in a week, or not at all. The total rubric scores are added up on Friday to see if the class had an all-time-best. It is a team effort --can we score more points than ever
Second semester is a repeat of the first week of school. Every day one scale is randomly selected from the 11 scales and then 4 students are randomly selected to play the scale. Every player’s
playing is evaluated on the rubric with a great deal of student help – counting accurate notes and beats per minute.
What has improved in three years of LtoJ® in a high school orchestra?
- I am a better teacher because my focus on scales does not wane as the year progresses. The students keep me on my toes. “Mrs. Barnes, aren’t we going to do LtoJ® today?” It is so easy to start the year “gung-ho” and then gradually lose steam throughout the year. I am better because the focus on scales is the same all year.
- Our growth with scales is visible on the class run chart. All students see continuous
- When I introduce a new song, the learning is so much faster. Students are not overwhelmed because the scales are all known to everyone. The students are not
overwhelmed with elementary skills, like trying to remember the sharps, flats, or naturals that happen normally in a particular key signature. The scale practice engages the students’ theoretical knowledge which contributes to quicker learning and more effective sight reading sessions.
- The LtoJ® process lends itself to teaching the Circle of Fifths. This music theory knowledge is precisely what my students need to start off their freshman year of music with success in college.
The LtoJ® process has unified my curriculum. Each year the students and I will agree on ways to improve the process, but for now in year 3, I am very pleased.
Grade 5 Teacher, Graber Elementary School, Hutchinson, Kansas
Lee Jenkins’ process has made the single most difference in my teaching in over 40 years in the classroom. The first time I heard Lee for an hour I was so excited I spent all night working to implement what I learned!
Since then I heard Lee at another conference and then a two-day seminar. Many improvements occurred, but the kids would say the biggest difference between my class and other classes is “No Permission to Forget” is the constant from me. All the kids know that the LtoJ® process fosters an environment of high expectations and a feeling that their classmates and teacher care about each other and each other’s growth.
I implement the assessment process each day with a different subject – spelling, Greek/Latin, English/Language Arts, Social Studies and Science. The kids are so enthused because the continual goal is to earn All-Time-Bests which is simply doing better than ever before.
I know every teacher utilizing Lee Jenkins’ LtoJ® process celebrates success in different ways. For me we celebrate by putting a $1 in the charity jar when the class has an All-Time-Best and $0.10 when an individual student has an ATB. At the end of the year we donate the proceeds to a charity the students select.
The power of students knowing they have to beat their prior best by only 1 more correct answer is so powerful that I would never change.
What started in my classroom has now spread to the whole school. We have weekly totals for the classrooms and for the whole school. Joy is multiplied.
The process Lee Jenkins teaches is called LtoJ® which means we move from the “L” curve in the beginning of the year, spend most of the year with the “bell” curve and then end the year with the “J” curve. The kids really do understand what the histogram shapes mean.
Think about this: I spend about 1/3 less time on surface learning compared to traditional classrooms AND the kids remember the surface learning so much better. What do we do with the left over time? We spend it applying the remembered surface learning with deep and transfer learning activities.
Tracy Heilman Kennedy, Ph.D.
Director of School Improvement, South Sioux City, Nebraska
Among the benefits of Lee Jenkins’ work that we have noticed are (1) the kids become more invested in their learning, (2) they are very versed in the use of data, even in lower elementary grades, and (3) we are seeing a big shift toward them truly adopting a growth mindset, characterized by demonstrating and verbalizing that they directly associate their own effort with their achievement. As importantly, we notice classroom climates and cultures reflecting a sense of pride, ownership and being a community of learners. Because of the LtoJ® process we don’t need external reinforcements; the celebrations are very motivating for teachers and students alike. This intrinsic motivation is not a one-time event; it is continuous.
We have found excellent alignment between our instructional model and common language of instruction, Marzano’s Art & Science of Teaching, with Lee Jenkins’ work as well. This alignment is across domains including celebrations, the importance of student-teacher relationships, clear learning goals/expectations, previewing and reviewing content, and reflecting on learning, to name a few. This alignment also supports our administrators in providing meaningful, specific feedback to teachers as we observe in classrooms, because we are able to identify specific, evidence-based strategies that align with specific instructional expectations.
We have found it particularly useful to provide concrete expectations for the whole year. Students are always involved in preview of future learning and review of prior learning, which supports both taking away permission to forget and helps to build student engagement. Powerful.
One of the most helpful aspects of Lee’s work is it helps secondary teachers drop external rewards and restore the intrinsic motivation they started kindergarten with.
At all levels, K-12, student engagement is increased, we see much more student efficacy. These feelings of “I know I can”, “It’s okay to not know- yet”, and “Everyone in the class contributes – there is no competition; we’re all on the same team”, are reinforcing a growth mindset for all kids.
When local TV crews and several administrators came to observe in one of our classrooms in which LtoJ is implemented extensively, it was ‘business as usual’ for the students. The most amazing aspect of that day was that the students seemed almost unaware of the cameras; they were going about their data collecting and graphing as if it was a normal day. They were completely invested in their work, focused on calculating the statistics on effect size, as a way to “measure” their learning, and celebrating together.
We now have added, in addition to student and class data, school-wide results. Students seeing how the whole school is doing on a regular basis is a Big Deal!
In conclusion, what Lee Jenkins teaches is evidence based, and with one process, manages to incorporate many effective teaching practices related to engagement, assessment for learning, and building a culture and community of learning in the classroom.
Assistant Superintendent, Paducah Independent School District, Paducah, Kentucky
“Great game guys! We beat a tough baseball team today. If you got a hit today, join me at the ice cream shop across the street. If you didn’t get a hit, your parents will pick you up in the parking lot. See you Monday for practice.”
Who would want a coach like that? Everybody knows how devastating being on this team would be. Yet, this is the false motivation we use in far too many classrooms, especially with mathematics fluency.
So, in Paducah, KY we began the LtoJ® process in elementary school with the LtoJ® math fluency quizzes. We wanted all kids to join the learning celebrations! In fact, not a month passes that every class throughout the district doesn’t celebrate at least one All-Time-Best.
Other reasons we selected math fluency are (1) it is the easiest LtoJ® process to implement and (2) it filled a big curriculum void in our district.
The results have been amazing:
- Zero pushback from any staff members
- Everyone sees the value of the review/preview structure and the power of random assessment questions
- We do far more analysis with our data than ever before
- Far less instructional time is wasted simply because students are remembering
- LtoJ® created an efficient way for student to visualize their learning
- The middle school teachers immediately saw the improved math ability in their incoming grade 6 students
- ATB celebrations are very motivating because they represent personalized success
- Amazingly, the success with math fluency bleeds over into better student behavior
Everyone is learning the power of competing against our former selves rather than competing against others. For example, instead of the three grade 5 classrooms having a math fluency competition, we add up the total correct in all three classrooms. Math fluency is not a sport and we do not want one winner class in math fluency and two loser classes in math fluency. When we have the total for all three classes, we all work hard to outperform our prior best score and have everyone celebrate, unlike our fictional baseball coach!