It is important that learning communities include community partners in the visioning and planning process. Among the many benefits of strong school – community partnerships is that students get access to new learning opportunities, like these:
At Marysville Early College High School, community partnerships have led to expanded learning opportunities for students. Marysville Exempted Village School District has established partnerships with Columbus State Community College, Honda Manufacturing of Ohio, Ohio Hi Point Career Center and the Union County Chamber of Commerce. Through internships, mentorships and capstone projects that include these partner organizations, Marysville students have the chance to extend the learning beyond school walls.
To broaden opportunities for student to succeed, Providence After School Alliance in Providence, Rhode Island, is working with the Providence Public School District, teachers, community educators, youth and other partners to link in-school and after-school learning. This is part of a citywide expanded learning initiative to help create a new day for learning. Learn more in this video highlighting work being done in that community:
Hamilton City Schools in Hamilton, Ohio, has a partnership with Grace United Methodist Church to offer the Graceful Steps literacy program. Graceful Steps offers learners the chance to build on literacy skills in a fun, low-risk environment during learners’ summer vacation. This community partnership helps prevent summer slide and, for my own children who are participating in the program, is helping encouraging children to sometimes reach for a book instead of an iPad or video game.
School community partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. The common denominator? They all work to serve students’ needs in a way that is simply not possible without community partners committing to the endeavor of learning.
An artificial intelligence recently scored a million points in the classic Atari game Ms. Pac-Man using a technique called reinforcement learning. An artificial intelligence has completed a painting considered to be the equivalent of an original Rembrandt. Robotic surgeons such as the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot have been shown to outperform human surgeons.
These examples might seem like a litany not all that relevant to learning. But they are emblematic of some of the most urgent questions on the horizon for learning: how will people distinguish ourselves in the workplace from and work alongside increasingly smart machines? How might we need to redefine readiness to ensure that all children have a strong foundation for a world of work that we can barely imagine today?
KnowledgeWorks’ latest strategic foresight paper, “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out,” looks to the year 2040 to explore what the changing world of work could mean for how K-12 and postsecondary educators see and cultivate readiness for further learning, work and life.
As artificial intelligence and machine learning become increasingly capable of performing tasks that we once thought were the exclusive purview of people – including many tasks associated with knowledge work – we are going to need to reexamine, if not redefine entirely, the role of people in the workplace. Even as the nature of our contributions is changing and the need to reskill and upskill to stay on the emotive edge becomes increasingly prevalent, the decline of full-time employment will also contribute to new and potentially destabilizing employment structures.
Bolstered by societal supports such as universal basic income, automation efficiency taxes and other mechanisms, many people could by 2040 be electing to pursue work or other productive contributions to their communities that they find meaningful, some of which are paid and some of which are not. Alternatively, we could be working platforms to piece together incomes in a highly taskified economy in which only the highly skilled have stable full-time employment but the need for constant hustle encourages entrepreneurship and pockets of innovation.
These two scenarios from “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” both reflect employment landscapes in which the rise of smart machines and the decline of full-time employment have displaced many human workers. But in them the societal response differs: the first reflects a coordinated societal response to the changing nature of work, whereas the second reflects a more market-driven or laissez-faire approach. The paper also explore scenarios in which low technological displacement occurs, with new job creation and job reconfiguration outpacing job loss.
Any of these futures could come to pass. In face of such uncertainties, cultivating a new foundation for readiness that focuses on core social-emotional skills along with foundational cognitive and metacognitve practices such as solving problems, thriving in ambiguity and uncertainty and cultivating inclusive communities promises to help learners develop their uniquely human attributes and thereby prepare to thrive no matter what the world of work looks like by 2040.Download a larger .pdf of A New Foundation for Readiness, an illustration from “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out.”
Babies born today will be graduating from college in the year 2040. This new foundation for readiness applies to them, as well as to all of us who will still be working and supporting learners then.
What will it mean to be career ready in 2040? #RedefineReady #FutureEd
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K-12 educators can help cultivate future readiness by integrating skills-based social-emotional curricula across those grades and by supporting students in developing aspirational visions for their lives. Postsecondary educators can help cultivate the new foundation for readiness by integrating support for deep personal development into interdisciplinary programs. They can also develop flexible and diverse pathways and programs that help students develop timely skills along with persistent readiness attributes.
These strategies represent just some opportunities to create a future of readiness in which all students have the opportunity to develop the uniquely human qualities that will distinguish them from and help them work alongside the smart machines that they will meet in future workplaces.
To explore the future of readiness further, download “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” and join the conversation about future readiness at #RedefineReady.
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The Current State of Education Media: An Interview with Charles Sosnik of the MindRocket Media Group
Education is full of trends and fads that come and go. But there are some trends that rise above the others, that prove to be successful and have research to show that they are more than a fad. I wanted to learn more about the current state of education and who better to ask for than someone who talks with educators every day, writes articles about current learning movements and bases his current career on covering the education system?
When I started at KnowledgeWorks, Charles Sosnik was heading up SEEN Magazine, where some of my coworkers had published insight into education policy, teaching and learning strategy, and the future of education. I’ve been grateful to get to know Charles and learn from his expertise – expertise gained from almost 10 years in the education media space and nearly 30 years in the media world.
Today, Charles serves as editor in chief for MindRocket Media Group, helping to connect the stories and voices in education that are changing the world. If you haven’t checked out edCircuit yet, you really should.
We recently had a conversation about his thoughts on the education world, current “trends,” personalized education and the future of learning. Here’s what he had to say:
How long have you been working in the education media space?
I’ve been working in media since 1981, but have only been in the education media space since 2008. My media background is varied, working as an editor, publisher or producer for business publications, city magazines, trade publications and regional television.
What drew you to education?
I entered the education media space quite by accident. I had divested myself of a media company and at age 48, I started looking for something to else to do. I was introduced to RB Knight, who published a group of specialty publications, one of which was an education magazine called the Southeast Education Network (SEEN). RB needed an editor, and agreed to let me have a go at it even though I had zero experience in the education biz.
My initial take was that the education market seemed interesting, but I was completely unprepared for the effect that it would have on me. As I began having conversations with educators and education experts in the business, I was overwhelmed by the passion that these individuals had. Through talking to them, I began to understand the importance of what they were doing. I had spent my entire career in media making money, but this was the first time that I really felt like I was contributing, that I was giving something back. I routinely spend 12 or more hours a day working – sometimes upwards of 18 hours. I have the opportunity to talk to superintendents, principals, teachers, technologists and education entrepreneurs. To a person, they have a unique passion for education and a sincere desire to help learners. I have made fast friends, and am constantly inspired by the people I talk to.
As someone in the education media, you see a lot of trends come and go… sometimes quite quickly. What are the biggest trends you see in education right now that you think are here to stay?
I would hesitate to use the word trend, because that implies a rising line on a graph that will easily decline when the next trend arrives. The two biggest movements I see are the move towards student-directed learning, and the move towards a globalization in learning. Both, I believe are necessary and inevitable. Education must and will change with the world around it. A closed ecosystem with teachers as the repositories of knowledge is no longer practical or appropriate for learners.
What do you think about the moves toward personalized learning and competency-based education?
I think the speed at which we personalize learning and integrate a system that insists on competencies will determine our success in the next 25 years – as a nation and as the people who are responsible for preparing our children for success in the world. Education, for all its successes and all its heroes, is a terribly antiquated system. When you compare the world of 100 years ago to the world of today, the only thing that looks remotely the same is our education system. How can we expect an education system like ours to prepare our children for a world like theirs?
KnowledgeWorks, our strategic foresight team looks at the future of learning. What do you think the future of learning looks like?
That is truly the $64 question. I was putting together a special issue of SEEN Magazine a couple years ago with a Future of EdTech theme. I asked a friend of mine, a leading futurist named David Houle, what EdTech would look like in 25 years. David laughed at me and said, “Anything past five or ten years is just locker-room talk.” The only way you can predict the future, and the way that most futurists do it, is to follow trends to their logical conclusions. I would look at the way the world has changed and is changing, taking into account technology and the likely job market 25 – 50 years from now. I would ask “What will our children need to be successful in their lives 25 – 50 years from now,” and then hope like hell we are smart enough to create the environment to help them. There are some very fundamental questions we should be asking now if we are to get it right 25 years into the future. We need to focus more on the needs of our learners than on our own needs. Right now, the primary focus of the institution of education is to protect the needs of the institution itself. That may sound a little cynical or snarky but it doesn’t make it less true.
When students are invited into personalized learning, they show up. No matter what their age.
This is the reality at The Early Childhood Center of Kenowa Hills Public School District. And while I’ve seen young students collaborate and show student agency, I am constantly amazed at the work throughout the building.
The Early Childhood Center has been focusing on specific goals to enhance personalized learning in their building. One focus of the year has been around collaborative learning, which is a step towards implementing the gradual release of responsibility instructional framework.
I recently visited Cindy Woodworth and Janet Sitar’s classrooms, where they have been working with students on collaborative discussions. Although I’ve seen personalized learning with young students, I must admit: I found myself doubting what was possible with student agency at this early level. I was eager to see students in action, but realized my mind questioned the possibility.
Of course, my doubt quickly subsided when I walked into the classrooms.
To work on collaborative learning, students draw a topic out of a basket and have a discussion with one another. From there, the students use visuals for support and guidance while practicing and improving their collaborative learning skills. Every student had the opportunity to get in front of the rest of the class, choose a classmate to join them, and then the pair demonstrates their skills by asking each other questions like, ‘how are you?’ They then ask a question about the specific topic, and repeat what they heard their classmate say about the topic. The process continues until each student has had a turn in front of the class.
Every student, in their own way and ability, demonstrated collaborative learning with their classmates.
Many people question how personalized learning can become a reality across the country, but this doubt rests in our own limits as adults. Our students are capable of so much more than the opportunities provided to them within the current education system. Through personalized learning, we can hold our students to high standards and successfully engage them in learning. We can help them develop these lifelong skills, no matter what age. We simply have to invite them to the table.
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Marysville Exempted Village School District is not new to innovation. When the district received a Straight A grant from the state of Ohio in 2014, the dollars were leveraged to kick-start the district’s strategic plan, which included the renovation of an unused school building into Marysville Early College High School and an Innovation Design Center for the county. With a heavy focus on STEM practices, problem-based learning and habits of mind, the early college high school school provides students and families a school choice at the high school level.
Building on their mission and core belief to meet the needs of each learner, the Marysville school district has thoughtfully explored policies, structures and strategies. To that end, Superintendent Diane Mankins has committed to personalized learning as the district’s next lift, giving students the opportunity to own their learning, progress at their own pace and graduate from high school ready to succeed in both college and career.
The district’s current strategy, designed to put learners at the center, has inspired the launch of TRI Academy. This new school will be led by the district’s current Personalized Learning Coordinator, Ashley Thompson. With this new school, both the Marysville school district and Thompson are furthering their commitment to tailored, relevant instruction for students who are struggling to earn credits toward graduation and who might need more individualized attention.
Learn more about Ashley Thompson and watch this video of her sharing some of her experiences with a district transformation to personalized learning:
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College in High School Alliance to Promote Opportunities for Students to Earn College Credit in High School
KnowledgeWorks has been partnering with early college high schools for more than ten years and we have seen the power they have to transform not only students’ lives, but also those of their families and communities. That’s part of the reason we’re proud to be participating in the College in High School Alliance (CHSA), a collaborative effort by more than three dozen organizations to better leverage federal and state policies to support early college high school and dual and concurrent enrollment.
- Leveraging current policy opportunities to advance early college high school and dual and concurrent enrollment, such as through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
- Elevating opportunities in ESSA “to expand and scale dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school programs”
- Engaging in advocacy with the new presidential administration and Congress to support the evaluation of U.S. Department of Education (ED) Pell Experimental Site as well as expansion to additional sites
- Developing recommendations for advancement of dual and concurrent enrollment and early college high school programs in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act
- Drafting recommendations for advancing these programs through the Higher Education Act
Though I’m careful never to admit it in front of my daughters, I never enjoyed math in school. But hearing Erin Morrison, a third grade teacher at Navin Elementary School in Marysville, Ohio, discuss how her students demonstrate mastery in different ways during math workshop makes me think that if I’d had the opportunity to learn a little bit differently, maybe I would have found something about math to love.
Morrison describes the six stations in her classroom, where students have the flexibility to choose one “must do” each week, as well as three “may dos.” She explains that this more open-ended approach allows students to play to their strengths – choosing the stations that are most comfortable for them, such as writing or hands-on – while also encouraging them to stretch themselves a little bit and try out new things. They also have the opportunity to work with a group, or alone, and while it’s clear they’re enjoying the freedom to go their own way now, it was an adjustment.
“The students were very used to being told specifically what to do,” Morrison said, echoing the math lessons that I, and probably you, too, remember. But in a competency education classroom, educators like Morrison deliver academic content as well as help students learn how they learn through coaching and facilitation.
Making – don’t tell my girls! – even math fun.
Learn more about how competency-based education encourages student agency:
Every community has various audiences with diverse perspective. Involved parents with kids in the school district. Business owners looking for skilled employees. Elected officials hoping to strengthen the local economy. Elderly neighbors whose kids graduated from the local high school years ago.
It can be challenging to communicate effectively with each of those community members. That’s where storytelling can play a role. Stories can speak across audiences, from the parent to the elected official to neighbor. Stories have power.
With interesting students, inspiring teachers and exciting events, school districts have never-ending stories to share with the community. But in today’s media age, local reporters are often spread thin and may not have time to dig for compelling stories while also covering contested school board meetings and elections. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about the positive stories. It means school district communication staff may need to share the story directly with the local media.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Charles Sosnik from edCircuit about the power of storytelling. With almost 30 years in the media world, Charles serves as editor in chief for MindRocket Media Group, helping to connect the stories and voices in education that are changing the world.
“School districts often have a great story to tell and no clue how to get their message out,” he said. “The local media, for the most part, doesn’t cover the wonderful success stories from within a district. For that reason, stakeholders often seem removed from the inner workings and rarely hear the positive side of education. We only hear the politics of it, and that story is rarely pretty.”
Learn three tips for developing an effective school district communication strategy, from Charles Sosnik:
- Create budget for communication. Districts should budget for media relations and publicity at the same rate that businesses do. While we don’t always view it as such, education is a business and can follow some well-defined rules that have successfully worked for businesses for many years. Like a business, districts manage budgets. A large district like Miami Dade or Wake County or L.A. Unified is a billion-dollar enterprise, and its success depends on the ability to be funded by its local and state governments, and by voters who approve or deny bond referendums. Even a mid-sized district operates on a $100 million plus budget.
- Hire a communication professional. Districts should establish a budget and hire media professionals who have the chops to successfully extend a message. Media is a very skilled profession; a superintendent or principal could no more run a public relations campaign than a media professional could run a district or school. They are very different skill sets, and it is short-sighted for a district not to take advantage of the professional help that is available.
- Be intentional and strategic about communication. Districts should take the time to decide on messaging. The only thing more expensive than crafting and executing a media plan is to not craft and execute a media plan.
Interested in district communication? Learn how this district used community surveys to develop their messaging strategy.
The post The Power of Storytelling to Deliver Your Message Across Audiences appeared first on World of Learning.
Kenowa Hills Public School District: Providing Student Choice for Flexible Learning Spaces to Impact Learning
How might we nurture an environment where everyone has the space to thrive with learning? What does that suggest for what we expect from our students, colleagues, and leaders?
Authentic learning requires vulnerability, and we need to provide environments that allow for it. We need to think critically and creatively about what space provides the best opportunity for learning. This means space for group activities. Space for giving each other grounding moments. Space for elbow room. Space that opens more possibilities to better understand ourselves and the world.
This flexibility in working space can be seen throughout Kenowa Hills Public School District, from their youngest students to their older classrooms. The flexibility empowers students of all ages.
This is what Rebecca Perry, a kindergarten teacher at Kenowa Hills Zinser Elementary School, creates in her classroom. Kindergartners sit side-by-side, working as writing partners. They work throughout the room with flexible space and seating options. Some sit in scoop bucket seats, while others lay on the floor. Some sit at round tables in a play kitchen area, while others sit at their desks.
No matter where they choose to sit, they are engaged in their learning. Research shows that providing student choice within the three categories of environment, social, and learning increases intrinsic motivation. Teachers can impact students self-efficacy right from the start, simply by letting them choose their learning spaces
Lisa White, a sixth grade teacher in Kenowa Hills, has looked for creative ways to give her students flexible learning spaces, including Adopt-a-Classroom programs for supplies or sourcing alternative seating from Craiglist. “I find that the students are excited to work at their collaborative settings,” she said.
Lisa’s students agree. One told me that the flexible spaces support keeping focus on work and learning and another was excited for the collaborative options.
A creative, flexible classroom environment directly correlates to effective learning. It provides momentum and support for energizing school culture and student collaboration. An added bonus is that it doesn’t require a lot of money; it’s an area where we can achieve equity in simple ways.
“I feel that my students enjoy the writing experience more when they can choose a seat that is comfortable for them,” Rebecca said. “It also allows the students to be spread out more and less distracted by other students or other partnerships. My hope for flexible seating is to let all students be successful in their learning. If they need to choose a space that works for them to be successful, then I need to be supportive of that.”
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) opens up new opportunities for states to offer personalized learning options for students. This policy shift is important because states now have the opportunity to align state accountability, assessment, and student systems of support with a vision for personalized learning. This opportunity will empower district innovators who have pioneered personalized learning approaches while also conforming to federal requirements that align to more traditional education systems.
As states and district leaders ponder the possibility of this paradigm shift, it’s important to understand how this approach differs from the traditional education system.
The chart below illustrates the differences between a personalized, competency-based approach and a more traditional approach to education. Can you imagine how the differences in these core teaching and learning elements empower educators and students?Download a printable copy of this chart, which explains the difference between traditional learning environments and competency-based education.
The post What is the difference between traditional learning environments and competency-based education? appeared first on World of Learning.
When I interviewed Keylynn Belrose Westfall last year, then a sophomore at Schenectady Smart Scholars Early College High School in Schenectady, New York, she told me that her “future is a priority.” She was on track to graduate early, in her junior year, and that’s just what’s happening for her this month.
She’s been accepted to Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, and will also benefit from the support of New York’s Higher Education Opportunity Program, a highly competitive financial and social support program for traditionally underserved New York state students.
While speaking about what’s ahead for her, Westfall reflected on how she got to where she is today, and how grateful she is for the opportunity to attend a Smart Scholars early college high school.
“In seventh grade, I was frustrated in my math class because I felt like I was the only one participating. It was only second quarter, but if I wanted to take advanced math I had to complete everything that my teacher was going to cover for the rest of the year. She gave me a packet that covered everything, and I finished it in a weekend,” said Westfall, who went on to take ninth grade math classes a year early. “I didn’t realize the opportunity they were giving me back then, but they saw the potential in me.”
The early college provided the same level of challenge and support.
“Teachers at the early college aren’t just there to help you decide what class to take. They know you, and what’s going on with you,” Westfall said. Because of her experiences at the early college, she wants to pursue psychology and child social/emotional development to provide the same kind of support she received to others. “I’ve had a strong support system, and I want to help children that have gone through similar experiences, children that are struggling.”
To learn more about how Schenectady Smart Scholars Early College High School is helping students like Keylynn unlock their potential, download our case study.
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Recently our partner, EdLeader 21 launched an initiative focused on districts creating a profile of a graduate. Their goal is to have 1000 districts develop and ratify their district’s profile of a graduate by June 2019. This is a big goal. The campaign will specifically focus on the following:
The EdLeader21 Profile of a Graduate campaign seeks to energize communities of educators, students and parents around a 21st century definition of student success. The campaign’s intent is to establish deep and broad support in at least 1,000 communities for teaching and learning practices that support student mastery of the 4Cs [critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity]. More specifically, we aim to:
- Inform the education field about why it is important for schools and districts to adopt a profile of a graduate.
- Provide tools and resources that support schools and districts in this process.
- Generate grassroots support for the development of profiles of graduates from a broad range of stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, community members, etc.
- Give high-profile visibility to schools and districts that have already adopted a profile of a graduate.
- Make an important contribution to the field of education.
- Improve collaboration among educators and supportive organizations and leaders in the field of 21st century education.
The campaign is spot on, important and is bold in its reach and goals. Beyond that, I see it being a catalyst and codifier on the policy front as well.
Many states are moving towards more personalized and competency-based systems. States such as New Hampshire and Maine are further along in those endeavors as they are moving statewide pilots towards a state mandated proficiency-based graduation requirement. Other states are focused on implementing pilots like North Dakota, Utah, Ohio or Idaho. Other states, like Maryland and Tennessee, are looking to begin their implementation using their state ESSA plan as the catalyst.
I believe that the profile of a graduate could play a codifying role for both states and districts. If I were a state chief, I’d require that a district that was applying to pilot a personalized or competency-based approach has a profile of a graduate. A profile of a graduate helps the community, district, school and teacher get to the root of the “why.” Why are we shifting our approach to teaching and learning? Why are we shifting our expectations of our students? Why are we creating new and differentiated opportunities for all students?
It’s because we want our children to be prepared for an ever-changing, complex and interconnected world. The world today demands an innovative approach to education that must be undergirded by what we want to see in our future graduates. We must deeply understand and internalize the “why” behind the “what” and the “how” of personalizing education. A profile of a graduate is that “why,” it is the foundation for transforming the education system. I applaud EdLeader21 for leading the charge and I’m proud to call them friends and partners.
Check out all the tools and resources at profileofagraduate.org.
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It’s graduation season, and one of the most rewarding experiences is hearing about the successes of learners I’ve had the privilege of working with in the past. Dulce Diaz is one of those students.
Dulce graduated in 2011 from Lindsay Unified School District in Lindsay, California, and was someone that was involved in every activity and was exceptionally supportive of her peers and her friends. She was in her junior year when we implemented competency-based education, and I could always go to her for honest feedback about what was working in her classes and what needed to be refined. She was also someone that the staff and the others learners really trusted, too, someone that they looked up to. No matter what challenges she or her family or the community were experiencing, she always had a sunny disposition.
The fact that she’s studying education policy now just fits. She helped us reform that initial implementation of competency-based education in Lindsay, and I love that she’s pursuing as an adult something she did so well for us a student.
At KnowledgeWorks, when you hear us talk about those we serve, you will rarely hear us mention a school district. To us, a school district is a collection of buildings. We don’t serve buildings. We serve learners. And teachers. And leaders. And community members. And business partners. And institutions of higher education. In short, we serve learning communities. And learning communities extend further than the reaches of a school district.
As KnowledgeWorks’ District Conditions for Scaling Personalized Learning tells us, community partnerships for the basis of any learning community:
Each district should cultivate partnerships with business, community, and higher education constituents in their communities (including local and county government, recreation, juvenile justice, faith-based, etc.). These entities should be involved in creating a district vision and strategic plan that is aligned with a broader economic and workforce development plan for the community. All aspects of teaching and learning within the district (curriculum, instruction, assessment, professional development, etc.) should be aligned to this vision. In addition, these partners should assist with creating various learning opportunities (internships, mentor programs, work-based experiences, service learning, etc.) and publish a list of these opportunities for all learners.
By bringing these partners in on the front end of a learning community’s planning processes, you can create a much more robust plan for supporting learners’ needs while also supporting the needs of the community partners you’re working with.
The added benefit of including community partners in the initial stages of visioning is that it becomes harder for community members to throw stones at a glass house they helped build. Further, as one of our board members reminded me in a recent conversation, “Maybe, just maybe, if you’re bringing community members in to help with planning, you won’t be building a glass house in the first place.”
Another advantage of cultivating an inclusive learning community is that, often, you can leverage the assets that community partners bring to the table. Whether it’s hosting a literacy workshop in a church’s basement, a local community college ensuring the newly designed K-12 competencies align with their admission standards or a business leader offering extended learning opportunities to students, partners bring an array of resources than can do nothing but benefit the learning community.
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Personalized learning is integral to the learning community at Navin Elementary School, and the rest of the Marysville Exempted Village School District. For Lynette Lewis, the school’s principal, making sure her teachers are on board with this learning style is important.
“It’s important for our staff to understand that we’re following personalized learning and competency-based education,” Lewis said. She and her peers have seen education fads come and go and she wants her team to know that personalized learning is not as fad.
“This personalized learning, this growth mindset, this competency-based education is really grounded in science,” Lewis said.
Have that back-up of science and formal research is important for Lewis in shifting teachers’ beliefs and rallying the community around personalized learning because it is “what’s best for kids.”
Watch a video of Lynette Lewis talking about personalized learning and competency-based education at Navin Elementary School:
Are you looking to bring personalized learning to your district?
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Legislators in North Dakota, Utah, Illinois and Idaho are making moves.
Each state has used policy to intentionally create flexibility for districts. Through pilot programs, grant programs and awareness campaigns, districts now have opportunities to create innovative learning environments, including competency-based and mastery education.
As Anne Olson writes for edCircuit, these policies open doors for districts to personalize learning for students.
“When a state creates opportunities for districts to personalize learning for their students, through pilot programs, innovation zones or through other allowances through their state education agency, they send a message to districts that they are committed to growing and sustaining this work over time. They are making a commitment to innovative learning.”
Learn more about how states are expanding student learning options. Read Olson’s edCircuit article, “From Bismarck to Boise: States Take the Lead on Personalized Learning.”
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Prior to opening Marysville Early College High School, Principal Kathy McKinniss thought about community partnerships as a one-way assist, a sort of network that the school could call on for help. As her school has evolved, so have her views on strong partnerships.
Marysville Early College High School is Ohio’s first manufacturing-related STEM early college. When the Marysville Exempted Village School District started down the path of starting an early college, they looked to their community for partners. Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc., was a perfect match. By partnering with Honda, Marysville could ensure their students had access to hands-on real-world learning opportunities.
“The partnerships have to be beneficial for the school the partner,” said McKinniss. “From the inception of the [school] building, we sat down with our community partners and planned curriculum, we talked about the kind of equipment we would need to train students on and we spent a lot of time on the soft skills as well.”
Hear more from Principal Kathy McKinnis about Marysville Early College High School:
Learn six ways to maximize your school partnerships.
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When I describe competency-based education to friends and family — students moving through education based on mastery of skill rather than seat time, lessons personalized to the individual and students taking ownership of their learning — the reaction is generally “that sounds better.” Unless that friend or family member is a teacher, in which case a host of very good questions arise about the practicalities of teaching in a competency-based environment.
“I have 30 kids? Do I have to plan a different lesson plan for each of them?”
The answer to this is no. A learner-centered classroom doesn’t mean the teacher plans lessons for each student. Robin Kanaan, KnowledgeWorks Director of Teaching and Learning, explained that you don’t have individual lesson plans for every student: “Students co-determine with the teacher what learning targets they need to accomplish and how they could show evidence of their learning. This is possible through agency and equipping students to understand themselves as learners.”
“How do we get the kids to own it?
Student agency begins with the culture, shared vision and standard operating procedures. “The standard operating procedures that you design with the students should address problem-solving, beginning the process to get to student agency,” said Laura Hilger, KnowledgeWorks Teaching and Learning Senior Coach. For example, create a procedure for collaborative work groups, so when a student gets stuck they know what to do. Hilger goes on” Once students begin to demonstrate mastery with the cultural pieces, you then move those exact same expectations over to content through processes that require them to monitor their own learning.”
“How do I manage all the levels? “
Ideally, logistics will support learners, things like developing a schedule that supports your vision and utilizing learning spaces. “Regardless of how many levels you have, when you are planning a new learning unit, you could look at what most of the class needs when it comes to writing,” said Laura Hilger. “Let’s say a lot of students need persuasive writing. You would analyze what mastery looks like, and design focused lessons and activities that would support those levels. This lesson addresses the entire group, and then you would move into workshop model where everyone works towards the daily learning target such as rough drafting. While they are working, you might be pulling small groups to go deeper on the focused mini lesson or individuals that need further interventions or support.”
Hilger said that in the beginning of the process, teachers have more control of the flow and format. As teachers develop their classroom and culture, this format becomes more student-driven. As student demonstrate readiness, more voice and choice is given to them.
“How does working with students at different places impact the larger group?”
Heather MacLaughlin, an instructional coach with Marysville Exempted Village School District, said that when teachers were first introduced to personalized learning, many wondered with students working at different levels, how their whole group instruction would be impacted? As they collaborated to implement learner-centered practices this year, they began to see that while whole group instruction is still a strategy, much of the instruction occurs within the flexible groupings of the kids, and within math and reading / writing workshops.
Transitioning to a competency-based education system is a process and developing the right classroom culture and transparency to support student agency takes time. KnowledgeWorks helps school districts navigate these challenges and partners with teachers to effectively support individual student needs.
Are you looking to bring personalized learning to your district?
The post Teaching in a Competency-Based Education Environment appeared first on World of Learning.
Graduation is a special time of year, and it’s great to see how our learners are doing exceptional things as graduates and professionals, to see the goals they set in high school continue to grow and blossom into fruition.
I can recall having conversations with Emily when she was a high school student at Monmouth Academy in RSU2 in Maine, when she was looking for ways to accelerate her learning and get to college as quickly as possible. She made it happen, in part because we were implementing competency-based education at the time and she could move more quickly through material as she could demonstrate what she knew at any time, regardless of what grade she was in. Additionally, she was motivated to get her collegiate and professional life started. She graduated a year early in 2015.
But the piece I really remember about Emily was how much of a giant heart she had for her friends. She was always willing to help them learn, help them acquire new knowledge, and really just be there for them as a friend. She was also an exceptional student athlete and one of the first female wrestlers in the state. She didn’t think that was a big deal; she just wanted to win. Even when Emily was hurt and couldn’t participate in matches, she’d be on the sidelines, helping her coach and teammates with strategies.
Emily is studying a form of experiential therapy now, adventure therapy, and she couldn’t be more suited to the work of helping others.
To learn more about Emily and how her experiences in a competency-based environment are helping her to help others, download her profile.
The post Competency-Based Education: Helping One Graduate to Help Others appeared first on World of Learning.
My ten-year-old nephew is in fourth grade in North Carolina. He plays the recorder, as all fourth graders in North Carolina do. Thirty-seven years ago, I went to fourth grade in North Carolina. I played the recorder, as all fourth graders in North Carolina did.
I realize that there are developmental reasons why schools introduce band around fourth grade. I realize that the recorder is considered relatively easy for kids to learn (though a quick Google search suggests that not everyone agrees). But for me this example illustrates vividly (and in screeching, haunting tones) how deep-set education traditions can be.
It’s hard to think about school being different than it is today. Most of us hold strong memories of its rituals: the first-day-of kindergarten picture on the front steps, the field trips, the progression from one grade to the next, the joy of summer break, learning to move among classrooms in middle school, the glare of Friday night lights. Many of the features that are strong and stable about school have stayed that way for good social and developmental reasons.
But as we consider possibilities for the future of learning, we need to remember that every one of those features represents design choices. Sometimes those design choices were singular and deliberate; sometimes, they developed over years of small decisions. If we want to achieve different outcomes for education – for example, to address persistent inequities or to shift what students learn so as to help them prepare for a future in which people could be working alongside and competing with smart machines – we need to make some different choices. Not necessarily all different choices, but some.
We need to question our assumptions about what school looks like. About why “We’ve always done it that way.” About how we frame the problems we are trying to solve. That way, we can identify new options. We can, potentially, find breakthrough solutions that could create better outcomes for learners. By outcomes, I don’t just mean better test scores. I mean things like more engagement with learning, stronger social-emotional development, deeper understanding of academics, and a stronger vision for one’s life. Or whatever you care about and are designing for.
When Jason Swanson and I work with educators and others to explore the future of learning, we draw upon a toolbox of activities and approaches designed to help people see and explore new possibilities. Those tools draw from several fields: strategic foresight, creative problem solving, systems thinking, and design thinking. We use cycles of divergent and convergent thinking to help people consider options, select ones to explore further, look at them from fresh angles, and identify pathways forward. It’s fun! We very deliberately play with possibilities, in hopes of helping people see something they haven’t seen before.
As I was reminded in a course on everyday innovation recently, sometimes problems can’t be solved unless we think outside the lines of our existing frames, as the classic nine-dot puzzle below illustrates:
When I tried to solve this puzzle, I couldn’t, because I tried to draw the lines within the frame of the box formed by the nine dots. I assumed that I had to work within the apparent space. Similarly, the assumptions and mental models that we bring to education design choices help create its deep-set traditions and govern what we think of as being possible for the current system. They also affect what we believe is possible for changing the system. Reframing techniques can help us break through those assumptions and shift our mental models so that we can see new solutions.
Some of our education problems won’t be solved, nor our hopes for the promise of personalized learning realized, unless we think beyond school as we know it today.