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Cycles of Inquiry Foundational Series Materials

Intellectual Integrity

The materials published on the Leading Ed Partnerships website are for designated facilitator and coach use only.  They continue to be protected by the terms of the grant and the limits of the intellectual property sharing agreements between Dr. Shelby Cosner and the fiscal agents acting on behalf of participating ROEs and the Greely Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University.  (The fiscal agent for the SEED Grant is Illinois State University Center for the Study of Education Policy and the fiscal agent for the EIR Grant is the DuPage Regional Office of Education.) This means that materials are reserved for use ONLY with principals of identified treatment schools authorized to receive the content under the provisions of the SEED Grant Supplemental Award for Project Years IV and V and the EIR Grant.  Schools identified as “control” schools may not participate in facilitated Cycles of Inquiry sessions nor interact with any of the content during the life of the grant.

Meet the Author

Dr. Shelby Cosner is the author of Cycles of Inquiry.  She is a professor and Director of the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois – Chicago where Cycles of Inquiry has been thoughtfully embedded throughout the principal preparation Ed.D. program.  Program graduates out-perform completers of other principal preparation programs in their ability to diagnose and develop organizational “readiness factors” and “capacities” essential to implement Cycles of Inquiry; and to leverage Cycles of Inquiry as a key school improvement strategy.  Program graduates staff schools in the City of Chicago and elsewhere across the country.  Many have been promoted into other influential school leadership roles. It has been well-documented that Cycles of Inquiry is a powerful instructionally-focused school improvement process. (Cosner, 2004, 2015.)

The Design Process

Dr. Cosner worked with project staff and a Design Team whose members represented each of four implementing regions:  ROE #1, 17, 19, and 28 and the Greely Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University.  Design Team members ranged in their experience as career educators from former principals to district level administrators and superintendents.  Members brought experience from large urban centers, suburban and rural districts.  Many were experienced professional learning facilitators and designers. Design Team members worked closely with Dr. Cosner to co-create complementary resources for principals and LEAD Coaches that migrated key components of a graduate program of study to a rigorous, connected suite of professional learning experiences supported by on-site coaching for practicing principals.  On-site coaching was provided by recently retired principals, district level administrators, superintendents, and regional office of education staff who were well-trained in the    Cycles of Inquiry process, its related research base, and the three Leading Ed Partnerships grant-funded interventions.

About the Content

This six-session foundational Cycles of Inquiry v 2.0 series has been re-designed in response to end-user feedback and uses a “flipped classroom” model.   It is intended for principals leading schools NEW to the project, or principals who may be placed in Cycles of Inquiry “implementing” schools during the course of the grant period.

Each session has two components.   Component #1 is pre-work in the form of a 45-60 minute video recorded by Dr. Shelby Cosner that participants will view asynchronously.  Component #2 is a regionally facilitated workshop that takes participants deeper into the content introduced in the video.

For each session facilitators will find an event logistics guidance document and event invitation to principals.  Pre-Work will include the session video recorded by Dr. Shelby Cosner, the slide deck, and a Video Viewing Guide / Note-catcher.  Participants are expected to view the video asynchronously and bring to the workshop session their responses to Reflect and Write prompts captured on the Note Catcher along with any questions that may have surfaced.  For the regionally facilitated sessions, facilitators will find an event agenda  using the project adopted Meeting Wise format, slide deck and facilitator’s guideParticipant Hand- Outs are numbered in the order in which they are introduced during the session.  Numbered documents followed by the letter “a” are “answer keys” to the activity that may also include special notes to the facilitator regarding key points to highlight during the moderated discussion.  Finally, each session will have an authentic Application Activity and formal session evaluation.  The session evaluation may be completed electronically or completed and collected at the conclusion of each session if offered in-person. Evaluations completed using a paper-based process will later be entered by hand into the project’s official record management system for evaluation purposes by LEAD Coordinators or their designees. Feedback from participants may inform the delivery of the subsequent session.

A Note to Facilitators

To prepare for each session, it is recommended that the facilitator(s) view the pre-session video to become fluent with the core session content.  A thorough review of the session materials is also appropriate. The materials have gone through an extensive vetting process.  Dr. Shelby Cosner participated in the development of all content and has approved its use as presented.  Follow the session content in the sequence provided.  Modifications should not be necessary, but responsive facilitators will:

  • Adopt terminology commonly in use. For example, some schools may refer to the Instructional Leadership Team by other names.  Some known alternatives include Leadership Team, Professional Learning Team or School Improvement Team.  Facilitators may substitute the locally used term, but are discouraged from altering the slides in any way; including to make language insertions to reflect alternative terms.
  • Provide relevant examples. A student learning problem in Mathematics is referenced in the Video Series. A student learning problem in English Language Arts is referenced in the regionally facilitated workshop.  Participants may find it useful to share and discuss additional student learning problems using other content or grade level examples.
  • Foster the formation of principal networks. Reinforce the participant learning experience by creating the conditions for principals to act as learning resources for one another as they participate in a “networked improvement community.” The principalship can be an isolating role.  These sessions are designed to connect leaders in professionally and socially supportive ways to reduce feelings of role isolation and link them with expertise available within the peer network.

COI Session 1

Session #1 Materials for Trainers

Session #1 – Cycles of Inquiry foundational training materials are included below.

Logistics Guidance (Coming Soon)

Event Invitation Principals (Coming Soon)


Session #1 Video

Session #1 Video Slide Deck pdf

Pre-Session Video Note-Catcher (Coming Soon)

(*) Participants will bring their Pre-Session Video Note Catcher to Session #1.

 Regionally Facilitated Workshop

Slide Deck

Facilitator’s Guide (Coming Soon)

Event Agenda (Coming Soon)

Participant Hand-Outs

  1. Review of Session #1 Video

1.a  Review of Session #1 Video – Answer Key

  1. A Tale of School Improvement Planning

2.a. A Tale of School Improvement Planning – Answer Key

School Improvement Plan Review

  1. Culture of Learning to Culture of Inquiry

4a. Culture of Learning to Culture of Inquiry – Facilitator’s Guide

  1. Diagnosing a Culture of Instructional Inquiry Modified Rubric
  2. Key Actions for COI
  3. Application Activity (Coming Soon)
  4. Participant Feedback Form (Coming Soon)

Optional Resources: 

Pre-School for All Tools for Planning and Learning Environment (Coming Soon)

Culture of Instructional Inquiry Rubric (Coming Soon)