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Student Facing Lesson Plans: the answer to "what are we doing?"

Colorado Convention Center, 102/4/6

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NYC Department of Education
@Anthony Koulis
With over 13 years of dedicated service in the New York City Public School system, my career encompasses more than a decade of teaching biology, alongside a venture into special education. My journey has connected me with diverse communities, currently in South Jamaica, Queens. Currently, I am furthering my commitment to education as a doctoral candidate in the EdD program at Marshall University, specializing in curriculum and instruction. This endeavor underlines my passion for innovating educational practices to support and uplift at-risk students.
Voyages South Preparatory High School
Chris Losurdo has over 15 years experience teaching Middle and High School Social Studies and English. He is the Founding Principal of VOYAGES South Queens, a NYC DOE Transfer High School. The school is dedicated to to educating the over-aged, under-credited and highly at risk young men and women from economically disadvantaged communities who have previously failed or fallen behind in traditional high schools. The school currently has over 300 young people working towards graduation, including a large population of recently arrived MLL students, Students in Temporary Housing, and those with Special Education services.
Executive Director
Power Up Ed
Xinyu Pan started her education career teaching high school Special Education in the Bronx. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Cognitive Science in Education here at Teachers College and an instructional coach for New York City Public Schools. Prior to her PhD studies, Xinyu was a program director at NYC DOE focused on building instructional capacity of teachers & school leaders and curriculum development & implementation in the areas of teaching & assessing 21st century skills. Xinyu received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and International Studies from Boston College, her Master of Education in Secondary Special Education from Hunter College.

Session description

This session is will be presented by Voyage South Preparatory High School. It showcases the school's hallmark practice, Student Facing Lesson Plans, and will provide samples and planning templates for the audience. SFLPs was designed to increase student engagement and accessibility for English Language Learners and students with special needs.

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to 1) introduce the attendees to Student Facing Lesson Plans, 2) offer the attendees the opportunities to see SFLPs in action (real lessons and student work from the presenters' classrooms), and 3) allow the attendees to brainstorm ways they can create their own SFLPs using the provided planning template.

SFLP was designed by the Voyages South Preparatory High School community to support the objectives, instructional focus, and curriculum for individual students who have traditionally faltered in main stream classrooms. VSPHS is an alternative school that served students age 16 and older who are not on track to graduate by age 18. The instructional expectations of SFLP centers on the belief in PURPOSEFUL PLANNING, TRANSPARENCY OF LEARNING, and GAMIFIED INSTRUCTION, so 1) the learning is highly accessible and engaging, especially for new English Language Learners (new immigrant population in NYC) and students with special needs, and 2) the students understand the what, why, and how of what they are learning.

Ever since the introduction of SFLPs:
1) classroom work turn-in rate has increased
2) disruptive student behaviors has decreased
3) organic classroom discussions has increased
4) standardized testing scores has increased for English Language Learners and students with special needs.

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5 min intro:
Menti meter poll: how often do you hear the following question from your students: what are we doing?
Follow-up poll: when do you most often hear this question?

At our school, we hear this question the most when our students are 1) confused about the learning activity, 2) do not understand why they are doing the learning activity, and 3) disengaged from the lesson

10 min slide deck:
introduce what led to the creation of Student Facing Lesson Plans, what it was designed to do, the student outcomes that came out of it, and the mechanics behind it.

20 min small group work:
review the sample SFLPs and the associated student work. Discuss: how does it lead students from one activity to the next? how does it communicate to the students the purpose behind each activity? how does it gamify learning? how does it make the learning more accessible for English Language Learners? Students with special needs?

20 min small group or individual brainstorm:
using the provided template, how would you design a SFLP? how would you bring it back to your classroom?

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Supporting research

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Session specifications

Instructional design & delivery
Grade level:
Skill level:
Coaches, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: PC, Chromebook, Mac
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Subject area:
ELL, Special education
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.