Our Innovations

The University of Florida Lastinger Center creates innovations designed to push the boundaries of teaching and learning. We design and build job-embedded professional development systems and programs that transform instruction and help boost student achievement.

Our innovations include:

  • Algebra Nation. To help teachers and students succeed on the Algebra 1 End-of-Course exam (EOC), the University of Florida and Study Edge have created Algebra Nation – a FREE, online, easy-to-use, EOC preparation resource aligned with the latest state standards. Learn more about Algebra Nation here.
  • The Master Teacher Initiative. This multifaceted program aims to create a national model for effective, on-the-job professional development. Its graduate component, the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement (see below), offers teachers in high-needs schools a free University of Florida master’s or specialist’s degree; and its Teachers Fellows program (see below) develops leaders who share their learning with their colleagues. Read about this program and view a short documentary about it.
  • Lastinger Teacher Fellows. We designed this initiative for all teachers – degree and non-degree seekers – in our partner schools. Utilizing the quality improvement process, participants identify a student learning area they want to improve, study research and best practices, implement a solution in their classroom and evaluate its impact. Teacher Fellows produce research briefs on the results of this inquiry process.
  • Lastinger Principal Fellows. This initiative offers principals a variety of University of Florida learning opportunities, all focused on improving student learning in the most vulnerable schools. In collaboration with their peers, participants develop action plans to enhance student achievement.
  • Teacher Inquiry. Lastinger Center staff members recruit two teachers from each partner school to serve as Teacher Fellow facilitators. In October of every year, they begin a series of meetings with the teachers who wish to study their practice. Working in collaborative groups, inquirers define a wondering or hypothesis, design an intervention or strategy that’s supported by relevant research, implement their idea and collect data on the outcome, work to analyze the data and synthesize their findings, and present their work publicly at one of four districtwide Learning Showcases.
  • Early childhood professional development in Miami-Dade County. Through a $6.4 million grant – which includes $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, $1 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and more than $400,000 from The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation – we are offering a free, on-the-job graduate program to 100 early childhood teachers in 25 high-need schools and other professional development programs for about 1,125 teachers over the next three years. Read about the Investing in Innovation grant.
  • Leaf. This online professional development platform offers Florida’s 40,000 early learning teachers a robust, easy-to-navigate experience that encourages immediate classroom implementation. In conjunction with the UF College of Education’s eLearning, Technology and Communications Department, we created this state-of-the-art system with Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation, Department of Education and Palm Beach State College. Check out our online early learning professional development system.
  • Lastinger Learning Expeditions. This initiative is a short-term (usually six to eight weeks) professional development focused on the development of content and pedagogical expertise. Teachers join guided professional development explorations into content areas, and school-based coaches help them implement new strategies in the classroom to improve student learning.
  • Summer Math and Science Institutes. Teachers in secondary partner schools attend weeklong summer institutes, some on the University of Florida campus, where they learn content and pedagogy that they can apply in their classrooms. They also design the inquiry project that they conduct during the upcoming school year.
  • Lastinger Community of Practice model. Our communities of practice bring together educators in ongoing, facilitated collaboration. Participants use protocols designed to promote reflective practice, shared leadership, authentic pedagogy, civil discourse and racial equity. Groups of teachers and administrators join forces to boost student achievement by establishing and publicly stating learning goals, helping each other come up with better teaching practices, looking closely at curriculum and student work, and identifying schoolwide issues that affect student achievement. Read about our Communities of Practice.
  • Ready Schools Florida. In partnership with The Early Childhood Initiative Foundation and other educational and social organizations, we’re part of a powerful team that’s leading one of the most radical systems-reform efforts in the country, according to a recent SRI International study. Read about Ready Schools Miami as a system of change.
  • A national prototype for ensuring children’s oral health. We participated in a multi-organization creation of one of the nation’s top Pediatric Dental Residency programs, which will serve 14,000 children. View our study on child well-being in Collier County.
  • The Lastinger Metrics of Child Well-Being. We use multiple indicators to provide communities with a measurement system to determine levels and types of risk to healthy child development. For instance, our assessments of children’s needs for the Naples Children & Education Foundation led to a variety of investments, including new early childhood reading approaches. Check out a chart detailing metrics of child well-being.
  • Florida Professional Development System for Early Learning Educators. We joined the state Agency for Workforce Innovation and Department of Education to build a blended onsite/online approach for this eclectic group of practitioners. Read about our learner-driven system.
  • Math and Science Content Clinics. Secondary partner schools are invited to participate in a yearlong series of math or science content clinics led by University of Florida professors, who guide participants to master new content to enhance their pedagogical skills and to apply their new learning in the classroom to improve student learning.
  • Curriculum Learning Communities Project. Staff members from early care and education programs participate in learning communities focused on one of two curricula: High Scope or Creative Curriculum. The director, one infant/toddler teacher and one preschool teacher from each participating early care and education program receive 20 days of intensive training over 12 to 15 months. Between sessions, participants take knowledge back to their peers and try out new practices. This enables them to report back on their experiences and then implement new practices and engage in discussions on how to strengthen implementation.