Our proven methods guide teaching and learning

Our intensive training programs focus on two of the most difficult skills to teach: expository writing and critical thinking.

Our most widely sought training programs are in EmPOWER, a method for teaching expository writing, and Brain Frames, graphic scaffolds for language, literacy, teaching, and learning. Click below to earn more about these methods:

EmPOWER Brain Frames©

The following training options are available for educators
looking to put effective, research-based methods
into action within their classroom:

EmPOWER – Full training for a school or district

This training is for general education and special education teachers in grades 1-12 who share responsibility for teaching students to write and are seeking a systematic method to guide their teaching of academic writing.

In a three-day intensive training, teachers acquire a common language and framework for teaching the writing process. Direct instruction in each step and component strategy of EmPOWER is provided and followed by hands-on, collaborative activities that allow teachers to practice new concepts with the guidance and support of a trainer. Teachers leave this training ready to use EmPOWER with their students.

Research clearly shows that professional learning must be sustained, intensive, on-going, connected to instructional practice, and relevant to teachers’ instructional goals. Recognizing this research, training in EmPOWER includes at least five additional training/consultation sessions to support teachers with implementing EmPOWER effectively.

Through additional workshops, classroom observations, model lessons, and/or teacher mentorship, we refine instructional practices with writing and support teachers with using EmPOWER to meet their instructional goals and objectives.

“Before, I felt my writing curriculum was made up of unconnected lesson plans, and I had to pull strategies from many different resources. All of my lessons are connected now, and I can still bring in other material that I feel is worthwhile. As an ELA teacher, it was always easy for me to work on reading skills. Now I feel I have so much I can do with writing that I want to spend more time with my students in that area.” – Grade 7 English Language Arts Teacher


EmPOWER – One-day overview

This training is for general and special education teachers in grades 1-12 who are interested in learning about EmPOWER but are not in a position to complete a full training.

In a one-day workshop, the training provides a basic understanding of the many factors that influence students’ ability to write and the logic and research base behind the EmPOWER method. Direct instruction and hands-on practice with the first two steps of EmPOWER (Evaluate and make a Plan) is provided along with a brief overview of the remaining steps.

The strategies introduced, which are proven to improve students’ writing, can be put to use immediately within a general education classroom or specialized instructional setting.

“One of my fourth grade teachers was so excited about the Evaluate and make a Plan concepts that he tried to figure out the rest of the steps of EmPOWER all on his own! This was a great day for my faculty. They all want to learn more.” — Elementary School Principal


EmPOWER – Advanced Course

This course is designed for teachers who have completed a full EmPOWER training and who wish to deepen their mastery of the method and use it to address broader literacy and learning objectives.

The course unfolds over several months through six live, online classes. Teachers explore a number of complementary theories and approaches to teaching various aspects of writing. In class discussion and through an online professional learning community, they have an opportunity to share how to weave these into their instruction with EmPOWER.

“I worked hard to incorporate EmPOWER into my AP History curriculum last year. This year, I want to go deeper. I see so many new ways I can use it to really develop both critical thinking and writing skills.” – Grade 11 History Teacher


EmPOWER – Trainer Certification

This training is for teachers who have completed EmPOWER training and wish to become on-site trainers for their school or school district, thereby allowing their school to sustain capacity in using EmPOWER over time. Training at this level is offered by invitation to those teachers who exhibit exemplary use of EmPOWER and demonstrate the ability to teach their peers effectively.

The course begins with a five-day training of trainers institute and then provides a mentored experience wherein teachers co-teach (with an Architects For Learning trainer) the three-day EmPOWER training and follow-up classes within their district, participate in scheduled mentorship meetings, and provide and receive feedback from their colleagues. Trainers also are required to participate in an annual workshop for Trainers.

Please note: Teachers who earn certification as EmPOWER Trainers are qualified to provide training only within their school or district.  

“Before I learned EmPOWER, I was charged with teaching writing in social studies with no training at all. It made such an impact on me as a young teacher that I jumped at the chance to train other teachers in my school. Each time a colleague asks me for help with lesson planning, I’m reminded of how powerful these methods are and what a difference they make for instruction.” – Grade 7 History Teacher


Brain Frames: Full training for school or district

This training is for grade K-12 teachers of any subject area who want effective tools for teaching students to actively organize their language and thinking in academic tasks.

Training begins with a full-day workshop, which introduces the six Brain Frames and provides participants with hands-on practice in using each of them for a variety of instructional purposes.

Three additional half-day classes are provided shortly thereafter to ensure accurate implementation and deepen understanding of how to use Brain Frames as tools to support reading comprehension, note taking, content instruction in different subject areas, and assessment of student understanding.

“I use Brain Frames for EVERYTHING: to teach new concepts, assess my students’ knowledge, guide their reading comprehension, support them with organization in writing, manage their behavior, promote self-awareness, and help them problem solve. Now that I know them, I can’t teach without them.” – Grade 7 Teacher


Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions about EmPOWER can be found here.

Answers to frequently asked questions about Brain Frames can be found here.

The Brain Frames work… you can visually see what the heck is going on. They are so much better than sticky notes, and they keep my headaches away too. They slow me down enough to really see and understand what I’m doing, what my goal is, and where I have left off for the next day. You made a difference in this Marine…you really did. –Letter from a U.S. Marine who learned Brain Frames in his rehabilitation sessions at Fort Belvair Community Hospital