Workshops and Publications to Help Schools Plan and Strengthen Advisories

Changing Systems to Personalize Learning: The Power of Advisories

The Power of Advisories, created by Debbie Osofsky, Greg Sinner, and Denise Wolk of the Education Alliance at Brown University, is a well-researched and hugely comprehensive 174-page guide designed to accompany an Education Alliance professional development workshop of the same name (see for further information about the workshop). Divided into “key dimension” areas of purpose, organization, content, assessment, and leadership, The Power of Advisories is designed to propel a team through the advisory design and planning process, and while it’s likely best used as a group workshop guide, The Power of Advisories is valuable on its own, both for the strategies it suggests and as a richly comprehensive overview of the research literature that supports advisories. Elementary and middle school educators, take note: though this resource is part of the high school-oriented Breaking Ranks process, it’s valuable for all. The Power of Advisories contains facilitator’s guidelines, discussion guides, graphic organizers, exercises, protocols, worksheets on analyzing students’ needs, defining advisory’s purpose, and aligning appropriate activities. /power_of_advisories/index.shtml

The Advisory Guide

Carol M. Lieber and Rachel A. Poliner, authors of a tabindex=”8″ href=”/cs/resources/view/ces_res/346″>Creating Advisories: A Few Notes from the Field, realized years ago that no comprehensive resource existed on the topic of advisories. Their resulting book, The Advisory Guide: Designing and Implementing Effective Advisory Programs in Secondary Schools, published by Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR), is a comprehensive, intelligent, focused, and practical guide to the world of creating and sustaining high school advisories. Its contents cover design, facilitation, formats, and advisory group activities. Two Advisory Guide chapters are indispensable parts of any advisory program planning process. “The Advisory Design Puzzle,” chapter three, is devoted to aligning goals with advisory group structure and design. And the fourth chapter, “The Bridge Between Designing and Implementing: The PR Campaign,” walks through the process of getting others in the school community enthusiastic about and committed to advisories, anticipating common roadblocks such lack of support, and suggesting communication strategies to manage expectations. ESR consultants are available to conduct a two-day workshop, “Designing and Implementing an Effective Advisory Program.” Please see for more.

Student Advisory

This fifteen-page document, produced by New Visions for Public Schools, is a succinct overview of high school advisory programs. Of particular note are descriptions of advisories at three New York City schools—Baruch College Campus High School, The Beacon School, and The New York City Museum School—that detail the programs’ structure, curriculum, and advisor /StudentAdv.pdf

Five Attributes of Satisfying Advisories

Written by Jim Burns and published in the Fall 1996 New England League of Middle Schools Journal, this short article, much-cited in the literature on advisories, is worth studying for its candid and vivid descriptions of what works in middle school advisories. The five points—1. advisories should be integrated into the larger plan for learning, 2. satisfied teacher-advisors feel comfort and authenticity within the role of advisor, 3. advisory tasks should have common, recognizable aims, 4. school leaders should champion the advisory program, and 5. advisories should yield tangible results—are equally apt for high school


Produced by the University of Washington’s Small Schools Project, this document collects a handful of advisory resources. The collection’s introduction cogently addresses the linked issues of advisory purpose, advisory design, and school mission. The “Advisory Design Sequence,” created by the Small Schools Project’s Jeff Petty and Kim Feicke, is a thorough flowchart, accompanied by questions to consider in advisory design, that guides planners through considering school and advisory program goals, planning advisory strategies and design, and dealing with implementation issues. Also included is a portrait of advisories at the Met, and lengthy interviews with Parker Charter Essential School’s principal Terry Schrader, and Fenway High School’s former acting director Luz Padua. Planning_Resources/images/advisories.pdf

Resources: Middle School Advisory

This compilation of twelve resources for planning and improving advisories, gathered by MiddleWeb, is geared in particular to middle schools. Journal articles, web-based discussions, classroom stories and more demonstrate the sustained practice of advisories in the middle grades.

Advisory Resources

Stanford University’s School Redesign Network complied this list of advisory resources geared for secondary school settings. Among the resources offered are links to several online portfolios produced by What Kids Can Do of advisory and other personalization efforts at High Tech High, Minnesota New Country School, and the Met. /srn/server.php?idx=861

And there’s more! See CES Network Sources for Advisory Development, a description of the professional development opportunities offered by the Regional Teachers Center at Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School and the Wildwood School.