Guest post by James Murray, the Principal of Waukesha STEM Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin. James also works in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Educational Doctoral Program in their Personalized-Learning research project [PIP], to align research with application.
When Waukesha STEM Academy opened more than six years ago, our incoming students had such varied levels of mathematical readiness-levels that a grade-level system of teaching math wasn’t going to work. We knew we wanted support the individual needs of our students, in accordance with the Learning Independence Continuum, but those needs, for students ranging three traditional grade levels, ranged anywhere from a 4th Grade mathematics readiness level all the way up to Algebra competencies. (Today the range spans all the up to Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus and Calculus A/B. How wild is that, to see in a middle school setting?)
To best meet the needs of our students, we created a proficiency-based path for our students who were not only coming in at different places in their math continuum of learning, but were beginning to move at different paces. Some students needed a bit more guidance and time, while others were quite independent and were able to tackle rigorous mathematical experiences at a very rapid pace.
Proficiency-based pathways opened our eyes to what the system needed to look and feel like, not just in math classes but throughout the school. It had to be flexible enough for students to be able to work through their competencies and demonstrate mastery of targets to complete a course at different times throughout the year. This flexibility allowed them to move on to higher levels of math, based on their needs and their own respective pace. At Waukesha STEM Academy, we extended the flexibility to the school calendar and opened up Summer months as an option for students. Student agency was beginning to take hold as students started seeking to grow based on their own rigorous academic and long-term goals, instead of simply being instructed to go to class and learn. Learning had become the constant and time was now the variable.
Grading in a Proficiency-Based Model
Once we had implemented proficiency-based pathways at Waukesha STEM Academy, we had to re-focus our efforts on assessments, or grading. The days of handing out A’s, B’s and C’s was now a thing of the past, partially because it didn’t supply any real feedback. More importantly, students wanted to understand where and why they were proficient and where they needed to grow. We wanted a new system that gave students specific feedback surrounding their evidence of learning and showed them exactly where they needed to focus as well as raise the bar for rigor and our expectations of what was necessary to move on to the next level.
Today at Waukesha STEM Academy we have created a system that focuses on evidence of student learning being displayed in a digital portfolio (STEMfolio) and consistent feedback being given by teachers to students and their parents to help the students understand:
- What are you learning?
- How are you going to learn it?
- How are you going to demonstrate that you have learned it?
- What are your next steps?
We have set the bar very high for our students, so there is a great sense of accomplishment when a student demonstrates mastery. That is validated when we see the results of some of the formalized and standardized tests that our students take, when compared to the rest of the district, their normed-peers and students across the nation. We are well above the average range of achievement. We have set the new standard of excellence; it is just the way that we do business now.
Research has proven time and time again that if someone is able to learn something and then teach it, that they must master that skill or own the knowledge required prior to being able to teach someone else to do the same. At Waukesha STEM Academy, students have now begun to own their learning. By demonstration through application and creation in context, we are seeing the highest level of proficiency ever. We are raising the bar and helping students see and realize their full potential, like never before.
KnowledgeWorks and the National Commission on Teaching & America’s Future hosted a webinar, “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: How Lessons from the Classroom Inform System Design.” James Murray joined a teacher and district leader to discuss personalized learning. Access the webinar.
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The way we live, work, teach and learn is changing at an exponential rate, and KnowledgeWorks’ latest strategic foresight resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide, empowers educators to meet challenges head on. KnowledgeWorks’ Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, Katherine Prince, and Jason Swanson, Director of Strategic Foresight, recently joined Larry Jacobs to discuss grounding education innovation in brain science, designing for equity, considering social and emotional development and more.
“Good practice is innovating toward the future,” says Prince, who stressed that educators and legislators have the opportunity to help school districts pilot new approaches by fostering innovation in a local context. The changes don’t have to be massive, and districts can make small changes while still having a big impact.
Swanson also spoke of personalized learning, and how important it is to consider social/emotional health in the context of education.
“If we’re talking about personalized learning and personalized supports, we need to lean heavily on the social/emotional side of learning,” Swanson says. “We need to let students take action, take ownership, and address their needs. Let’s take this from the ground up: what’s working? What’s isn’t? What’s really affecting student learning?”Listen to the full discussion between Larry Jacobs of EduTalk Radio, Katherine Prince and Jason Swanson about shaping the future of learning here:
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an award-winning author and a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He is well-known for his writing on cultural issues and race relations in the United States. His book Between the World and Me is a New York Times Bestseller and his essay “The Case for Reparations” is widely acclaimed.
On Nov. 20, Ta-Nehisi Coates visited Xavier University in Cincinnati to give a talk on “On Race in America.” His words were relevant, thoughtful, and challenging. While his talk and his book addresses the overarching issues of race in America, there are undoubtedly major takeaways for the education community. Here are just a few:
We must embrace history.
During his talk at Xavier, Coates recounted history from 1619 to present day. His heavy focus on history called attention to the lack of African American and culturally relevant studies in our classrooms today. He made it clear that the past, our history as a country, cannot be ignored if we are to truly, deeply understand what is going on.
The history of education in our country carries a particular weight as we discuss the “achievement gap.” From the criminalization of education to the inability to access quality primary schools and attend public universities, African Americans were given the status of second-class citizens. The results we see today, Coates explained during his talk, are simply an outcome of policies that were meant to disenfranchise an entire people group. So what do we do? We deconstruct a system that was designed for the success of only one group of people. With the youngest and fastest growing populations in our country being people of color, the education world must get serious about redesigning a system that works for everyone and consult historical truths as we do so.
Personalized learning is essential.
In his book, “Between the World and Me,” Coates explains the difficulty of reconciling his curiosity with the demands of the traditional classroom.
“I was a curious boy,” Coates writes, “but the schools were not concerned with curiosity. They were concerned with compliance.”
Too many students today share Coates’s experience—feeling constricted in the classroom, unable to explore their interests or use their unique strengths to learn. It’s time for us to turn the learning environment as we know it upside down. We need to create learning opportunities in diverse environments (not just in a school building), allow students to lead and take ownership of their own learning, and design curriculum that acknowledges the unique circumstances, experiences, and interests of each student. Coates described the classroom as “a jail for other people’s interests.” We need to change that.
Continue the work.
As educators, and as humans in general, we tend to focus on our failures. But Coates reminded the audience to take the long-view:
“Look at the long history, your ancestor’s history,” he said. “Look at your fight. You’re more than capable of taking it on.”
Ensuring access and equity for every student will take consistent and persistent dedication. Coates mentioned how many individuals gave up their time, their lives, for a reality they never were able to see—nevertheless, their contribution had a tremendous impact on the world in which we live today. We must continue the work even in the face of failure.
When asked for parting words from a Xavier University staff member, Coates proclaimed, “Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight!”
Let’s keep fighting for our kids.
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Guest post by Ashley N. Winnen, a teacher in the Eagle County School District.
From my experiences, having a school (or district) vision that supports project-based learning strengthens the practice.
Project-based learning for many teachers and school leaders is a fundamental shift in actions. It takes time, especially in the beginning, for teachers to figure out how it will look in their classrooms. One of the most important pieces is to allow teachers the opportunity to support each other through conversations, feedback, and reflection.
When I worked at a school without a project-based learning vision, there were only a handful of teachers using the practice. While we would support each other, I felt isolated. I didn’t always have the opportunity to speak to those teachers and have the conversations I professionally craved to help me create my ideal learning situations for my students. Now, teaching in a school where the vision of project-based learning is reinforced by the actions of the school leadership team, I feel professional development, student expectations, and grading practices are clear and aligned. In this environment, where all teachers practice project-based learning, I find we speak a common language that has allowed me to be more creative and productive. It is motivating to work with teachers who share the same beliefs, and that energy helps sustain the practice. Project-based learning can take a lot of energy from the teachers—it can be a drain or it can reignite a passion for teaching. In my opinion, when school leaders create a vision of a project-based learning program, the process will continue to inspire teachers to create valuable learning opportunities for students.
In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. This is just one excerpt from our paper. Read the complete paper.
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The way we learn is changing. Where we learn is expanding. When we learn is becoming more customized. In order to keep up, education has to adjust. That’s the focus of a new article by Katherine Prince, Senior Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks, in SEEN Magazine.
The way we learn is changing. In order to keep up, education has to adjust. #FutureEd
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Look to the year 2026, Katherine suggests, and imagine ways that the world and education has changed. It’s hard to predict specifics about what the future of learning holds, but Katherine and Jason Swanson, Director of Strategic Foresight at KnowledgeWorks, have been following trends in education and presenting information to guide our exploration of the future.
In the SEEN Magazine article, Katherine shares eight future educator roles, which include a Micro-Credentials Analyst, Social Innovation Portfolio Director and Learning Pathway Designer. While at first glance, some of the learning roles presented in this article and in a paper published by the Strategic Foresight team at KnowledgeWorks might seem isolated to explorations of the future, Katherine shares examples of these types of educator roles that already exist.
Understanding what the future of learning means for educators, as well as students, is important as we plan ahead. When we think about cultivating a pipelines of talented educator professionals, we need to think outside of just what exists now and also focus on what we’ll need ten and twenty years from now.
In order to learn more about how the district conditions for scaling personalized learning impact teachers’ practice, KnowledgeWorks listened to teachers from across the country as they told us about the personalized learning experience. This research culminated in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”
One of those conditions, student supports, is defined as:
Students should get the supports and interventions they need to be successful when they need them, not after they’ve taken a summative assessment at the end of the year. These supports should be informed by instant feedback based on frequent formative assessments and, to the extent possible, be embedded in learning. Schools should be given the flexibility to use the time in the school day/year as they see t in order to provide these supports.
Many of the interviews we conducted spoke to the foundational nature of providing customized students supports in a personalized learning system. In a personalized learning environment, data is continually collected and acted on in real time. Students are able to receive the supports they need, when they need them. These supports could be of a remedial nature to boost student achievement or delivered as a way to deepen a student’s learning. Several teachers identified the schedules as a barrier to a personalized system of student supports. As a result, classroom learning environments are often adjusted by the teacher in order to provide the flexibility for supports to be embedded in day-to-day lessons.
As one practitioner told us, “It’s about analyzing data. We said we did it in a traditional setting, but we never looked at where every individual was. Now we can analyze, check and adjust. Back in traditional classrooms, we said we did centers, but now we rotate based on needs. In the small group setting, I’m meeting their needs at the center. It’s individualized and targeted.”
For more on just-in-time student supports in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.“
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Guest post by Natalie Matthews, a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
In implementing personalized learning, I quickly learned the significance of culture. The classroom culture is important, but I found that sustained success with personalized learning for my students stemmed from the condition of the school culture.
My administrators built a strong school culture, one in which the mindset of first doing what’s best for kids and second with the mindset that failure is okay. They rooted this from all stakeholders having a growth mindset.
In the early stages of implementing personalized learning, it was important that I knew it was okay if an idea failed as long as I was taking steps to move forward in personalizing students’ learning. The administration at my school built a culture in which teachers felt comfortable trying new things without fear of failure. The school culture built by my administration, where teachers felt comfortable trying new things without fear of failure, trickled down to the individual classroom level. Here it was my job to envision how personalized learning, this shift in my approach to teaching and learning, would be successful in my kindergarten classroom. After the school wide culture was built, it made its way down into the classroom.
Implementing this culture shift became my top priority for student ownership and success. I wanted to create the same learning experience for my students that I felt when I first began exploring personalized learning.
From the beginning, I communicated with my students that we were in this together and that we were going to try a lot of new things this year. I explained to them that if it didn’t work, that’s fine we would continue to change and adapt it until we got it just right. I was at a bit of advantage compared to other teachers for the fact of I teach kindergarten, and the majority of my students have never been in a school environment, so they had minimal expectations of what school was “supposed to be.” This afforded me the opportunity to build the culture that I wanted from scratch and share my vision of what school “should be about,” the notion of students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. I was able to share these ideas around what we learn, how we learn, and why we are learning it through Morning Meetings. Each morning we sit together on the carpet and have conversations that revolve around the importance of how we are becoming lifelong learners and how everyone learns at a different pace. We talk about how to be good people, what makes people unique, and everything between. This first 30 minutes of every school day was vital to our success in building a strong classroom climate that allowed the teaching and learning in my classroom to be truly personal to each and every student.
Without building this culture, together with my students, they would have continued to be afraid to fail, they will not want to take risks, and students will continue to believe that all students should be doing the same assignments at the same time. By building a strong classroom culture my students now feel comfortable working on different assignments, they feel comfortable talking about what they are working on and why and have started developing a growth mindset within them at the early age of five. This strong classroom culture has undoubtedly been a major contributing factor to the success of personalized learning.
In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. This is just one excerpt from our paper. Read the complete paper.
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Kenowa Hills Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan, are ensuring their students are prepared for the future with a new initiative focused on competency-based learning. Laura Hilger, Senior Teaching and Learning Coach at KnowledgeWorks, explains the goal of work as a way to ensure that students become “successful innovators ready for college or career.”
In a recent post for Personal Mastery: Journey to Excellence, a Kenowa Hills newsletter, Laura explains why competency-based education is the right way for the school district to reach their goal. “Competency-based education … is taking shape to create real change that can guarantee each graduate has the skills necessary to lead their life, and impact their communities,” said Laura.
Kenowa Hills is embarking on a mission to “be the most innovative, student-centered district in the state.” When this happens, learning will be student-centered and students will be owners of their own learning.
Learn more about competency-based education:
Read Laura’s full article, “Competency Based Education Creating Real Change,” for Personal Mastery: Journey to Excellence.
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This week is American Education Week, where we celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.
We asked our teaching and learning team to complete the following sentence: If I were a teacher I want to be like… For our staff who are teachers, we asked them to complete this sentence: I’m inspired by other teachers like…
Here’s how they responded:
If I were a teacher I want to be like Neil deGrasse Tyson. He has a gift for explaining complex scientific thoughts in a practical, easy to understand way that makes you interested in the subject matter and excited for exploration. – Drake Bryan, Project Manager
If I were a teacher I want to be like Language Arts Professor John Rechtein. He was a master of his craft who inspired every student to achieve more than they thought they ever could. No matter how “good” your work was he pushed us to make it better. We were competing against ourselves and loving the competition. – Deborah Howard, Senior Director of Operations @deborahhowardd
If I were a teacher I want to be like KnowledgeWorks’ National Director of Teaching and Learning Robin Kaanan, because she knows how to energize a room and deliver a great presentation that reaches all learners! – Chuck Pollington, Director of Business Development @pollingtonchuck
I am inspired by teachers like Jen Hinderer who empower their students in challenging ways. – Lori Phillips, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning @loriphilips1026
If I were a teacher I want to be like my mom because she is thorough and patient. – Katie Varatta, Senior Network Manager @katie_varatta
If I were a teacher I want to be like my six-year-old nephew, Loek. He teaches me about conscious discipline and mindfulness; it is applied in his classroom and he re-applies it at home with the family. – Mirm Dekker, Director of Business Development Support and Partnerships @DutchyinEdu
I’m inspired by teachers like Courtney Potts from Navin Elementary School in Marysville, Ohio. She gives her fourth graders opportunities to determine how they will demonstrate mastery of the standards. – Robin Kanaan, National Director of Teaching and Learning @RobinKanaan
If I were a teacher I want to be like my friend Cathy. She’s a teacher with compassion for her students and feels it is her responsibility they come away from her classes equipped for success. – Vicki Tallarigo, Office Manager and Executive Assistant
If I were a teacher I want to be like Michelle Ducey, who taught math at Mt. Whitney High School. She always challenged me to reach heights I didn’t believe I could reach while supporting me all along the way. She is what I picture when “learning Sherpa” is described. – Virgel Hammonds, Chief Learning Officer @VirgelHammonds
If I were a teacher I want to be like Eleanor Roosevelt. She was a true human agent that modeled her values, challenged others to be gritty and worked for human rights. – Laura Hilger, Teaching and Learning Senior Coach @hilgerl
If I were a teacher I want to be like Dave Ramsey. He uses humor and common sense to show families how they can help themselves. – Andrea Mulkey, National Director of Strategic Partnerships @AMulkeyKW
How would you answer? If I were a teacher I want to be like… I’m inspired by other teachers like…
Akron Alternative Academy in Akron, Ohio. Choices Alternative High in Canton, Ohio. Education and Career Advancement Center at in Maple Heights, Ohio. Marysville Exempted Village School District in Ohio. Kenowa Hills Public Schools in Michigan. Keifer Academy in Springfield, Ohio. Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Colorado. Regional School District 2 (RSU 2) in Maine. Milford High School Success Academy in Milford, Ohio. Lindsay Unified School District in California.
These public school districts, and many more across the country, are leading the way in personalized learning. They are setting a community-wide vision and commitment to ensure every student has the knowledge, skills and mindset to succeed in college, career and life. During American Education Week, and every week, the entire KnowledgeWorks team wants to recognize and thank these districts – their leadership, teachers, principals, parents and community partners – for taking this bold action to transform their community’s education system.
As communities across the country continue to face achievement gaps, school districts and community stakeholders are challenged to connect students with the support and resources they need. We truly believe and know from experiences learned in the communities we serve, that personalized learning can bring education equity, by preventing gaps in knowledge from growing year after year, and ensuring that every student is challenged. Here’s why:Educators are empowered to meet students where they are, and provide the individual supports and meaningful ways to assess progress.
Educators have always tried to do their best to support the needs of every child. But traditional, time-based school systems make it hard for them to give each student the support they need.
In a competency-based system (sometimes called proficiency- based, mastery or performance based ), the school culture is built around personalizing learning for the individual student. Educators have the autonomy, structure and support they need to develop creative ways to meet students where they are. And there’s more focus on understanding how a student is doing in real-time, and providing various methods to demonstrate that they’ve mastered a concept.
For example, some schools offer regular advisory periods that connect students with individual support when they need it. This could mean an extra class period a couple of times a week for students who need it, or group advisory sessions during which a student seeks out additional support. Another common approach is to make ensuring assessment readiness a standard operating procedure throughout the school. This means that before a student is assessed on a particular lesson, they must first show evidence from their learning experiences that they are ready. And they are allowed to retest, only if they have demonstrated that they’ve taken additional steps to prepare themselves.
While some students might choose to demonstrate mastery through a traditional test, others may choose to demonstrate what they’ve learned by sharing a presentation with key school staff, by writing a research paper, or collaborating with community members on a social design challenge. The emphasis is not on the type of assessment, but on the assessment of skills mastered.The system no longer moves students through lessons and grade levels, even if they only understand 60 percent of the material.
For example, in a traditional elementary school setting, a first grader could come home with a “good grade” on her report card, leading her family to believe that she’s learned everything that she needs to know. However, even with a B in math, what her family may not be able to see is that she did really well with addition, but is still struggling with subtraction. And she’ll move on to the next lesson missing knowledge that she will need. Year after year, this creates more gaps in knowledge.
With competency education, students must demonstrate that they’ve truly mastered each standard before moving on to the next, preventing these gaps in knowledge and creating a strong foundation to build the next level of learning. As student work their way through mastering standards, as identified by their school community, the process of learning new concepts is accelerated, thanks to the strong foundation already established.Every student is challenged to not only master each standard, but to grow beyond them and build the skills they need for college and career.
In a competency-based environment, every student has a common set of clear learning targets, and knows what they need to do to be successful. There is a culture of transparency, and the role of the educator is not just to teach the standards, but to ensure that every student reaches their full potential.
Students do more than just memorize concepts for a test. They understand why they are learning each concept, and how to use it to solve problems, think critically, work with others in real-world situations, and are empowered to do so in highly personalized ways.
Watch our video to learn more about how competency education is different from traditional education:
The post How Competency Education Can Ensure Education Excellence for Every Child appeared first on World of Learning.
The Power of Partnerships: Four examples of school districts successfully partnering with local community organizations and businesses
Across the country, schools are partnering with local community organizations and businesses to help create more successful communities with thriving workforces. When these partnerships work well, businesses can help schools create the pipeline of skilled employees that they will need in their future and businesses and help schools ensure that students graduate both college and career ready.
Here are some examples of successful partnerships between school districts, community organizations and businesses:
- Ohio’s First Manufacturing-related STEM Early College High School: When Marysville Exempted Village School District started down the path of starting an early college high school, 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. Learn more about this partnership with Marysville Early College High School.
- Preparing Students for Local and Global Job Market: Students in Marion, Ohio, expressed interest in having access to education that lined up with career pathways. To make those pathways successful, school leaders worked with local businesses, expanding opportunities for students and helping create future employees for the businesses. Learn more about the essential role of partnerships in creating career pathways in Marion.
- Local Business Supporting Interest-Based Academies: Reynoldsburg high school is broken up into four interest-based academies that focus on: health sciences and human services; the arts; business, education, leadership and law; or STEM fields. Each academy partners with local business and organizations that strengthen the academic offerings for their students. By partnering with community organizations, Reynoldsburg City Schools have been able to offer an educational experience to their students that is both more rich and more tied to community economic growth. Learn more about how Reynoldsburg City School approached partnerships.
- Urban Farming and Standards-Driven Learning Experiences: The partnership between Jones Valley Teaching Farm and Birmingham City Schools has become a model for others locally, throughout the state and at the national level. In addition to learning about the science of plants and farming, students are gaining entrepreneurial skills in their Farmers Market Club. Learn more about how Birmingham City Schools is partnering with their community.
Get Started on a Success School – Business Partnership
Want some tips on creating successful partnerships between schools, community organizations and businesses? Deborah Howard, Senior Director of Operations for KnowledgeWorks, shares six lessons she’s learned while working with our schools and their partners.
It’s American Education Week, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate excellence in education than to highlight the work of some incredible high schoolers in Marysville, Ohio. Supported by teachers, staff, and their peers, these girls are pursuing a passion project that crosses district, state, and national lines.
The Hopeful Heart Project is the brain child of three sophomores at Marysville Early College High School: Kayla O’Shelski, Michaela Stauffer, and Jazmine Williams. During a sleepover, the girls considered how the habits of mind emphasized at their school – flexibility, out of the box thinking, resiliency, collaboration and communication, and self-sufficiency – lacked something that the girls felt was essential: empathy. They talked about where they could make an impact and how they could involve everyone at their school. Leveraging Michaela’s family connections with Water for Life Haiti, the group decided to raise money for school supplies for the Divine Help School in Pasbwadòm, Haiti, and called their work The Hopeful Heart Project.
“My great-grandfather, Willis Miller, founded Water for Life,” Michaela adds. “I wanted to continue that legacy to make him proud. We wanted to make a change in the lives of people who are less fortunate.”
“As teenagers, we focus a lot on ourselves and our friends. We need to be more empathetic,” continues Jazmine, who explains that while the initial fundraisers went toward school supplies for the Divine Help School, funds were diverted after Hurricane Matthew to help pay for a new roof when the school’s existing roof was blown off during the storm.
The girls have been approached by other students asking for ways to help, volunteering ideas for new fundraisers in addition to contributing to existing fundraisers. They do Penny Wars at the high school, and have taken advantage of community festivals to incentivize giving. Recently, they gave a presentation before a group of district and community leaders about the importance of their project, and their plans for the future, which include soliciting donations from local businesses to help fill backpacks for students at the Divine Help School.
“We want to bring The Hopeful Heart Project into all Marysville schools next year, and into the community,” says Kayla. “The principals and staff are really willing to help, and we’re hoping to pass this on to other students when we graduate. As long as the school is here, we want this project to continue.”
While the girls rightly want to expand their school’s habits of mind to include empathy, it is those very principles that have allowed for a small group of sophomores not only to feel like they could pursue something on their own, but also to elicit the support of their teachers and administrators in a student-directed initiative. Students at Marysville Early College High School are empowered to seek out independent learning and service opportunities, and to think critically about their impact not only on the Marysville community, but the world.
“If you’re passionate about something, do something,” says Jazmine, a sentiment the girls share, and one that’s sincerely honored by their school culture.
Interested in learning more about The Hopeful Heart Project?
It’s hard to be in high school. Navigating social expectations, overcoming fears for the future, exploring your boundaries at home and in the classroom, applying for college or other post-secondary options, teenage dating – I shudder at the thought of ever having to go back.
But I keep going back, sort of. I have been fortunate to have many opportunities to visit early college high school campuses and remember the potential of that age, too, especially in the face of sometimes insurmountable odds.
The students at Schenectady Smart Scholars Early College High School in Schenectady, New York, are no exception. They are sharp, funny, and indomitable, and active members of a learning community with high standards, high expectations, and a commitment from everyone involved to support each other on the path to success.
“What our students have at each turn is a familiar, supportive face saying, ‘You can do it. Don’t give up,’” says Diane Wilkinson, president of Schenectady High School. “Early college is an on ramp towards graduation. When they fall off – because they do – we find a way to get them back on and moving in the right direction.”
Interested in learning more about Schenectady and students who are making their future a priority? Read our latest early college case study.
The post Your background doesn’t determine your future in Schenectady, New York appeared first on World of Learning.
From West Virginia to Texas and Colorado to Zurich, Switzerland, our KnowledgeWorks team has been sharing expertise with and gaining insight from education leaders on an international stage. Check out where we’ve been throughout the past few weeks:
Denver, Colorado: KnowledgeWorks Vice President of Policy and Advocacy Matt Williams presented during a policy panel at the Grantfunders for Education conference.
— Nick Donohue (@NickDonohueNMEF) October 28, 2016
Grand Junction, Colorado: KnowledgeWorks Chief Learning Officer Virgel Hammonds and KnowledgeWorks Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning Lori Phillips traveled to Rockies to lead a leadership session with over 100 leaders from throughout Mesa County Valley School District 51.
Elizabethtown, Kentucky: KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson explored the future of learning with Kentucky’s Innovation Lab Network (ILN) during their annual convening.
— David Cook (@DavidNeilCook) November 3, 2016
Louisville, Kentucky: Matt Williams spoke about early college policy during the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships National Conference.
— Matt Williams (@MattAWilliams) October 17, 2016
Hallowell, Maine: KnowledgeWorks Director of Teaching and Learning Robin Kanaan, KnowledgeWorks Network Manager Katie Varatta, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Operations Debbie Howard, Lori Phillips and Virgel Hammonds visited our friends at Regional School District 2 (RSU 2) to talk with teachers about their personalized learning implementation experiences.
Boston, Massachusetts: KnowledgeWorks Director of State Advocacy and Research Jesse Moyer attended the launch of the Jobs for the Future (JFF) Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative.
— Jesse Moyer (@jessemoyer) November 1, 2016
Acme, Michigan: Virgel Hammonds and Matt Williams gave keynote presentations during the Michigan Association of State and Federal Program Specialists 2016 Fall Directors’ Institute.
— Chuck Pollington (@pollingtonchuck) October 5, 2016
Kenowa Hills, Michigan: KnowledgeWorks Teaching and Learning Senior Coach Laura Hilger spent a couple weeks with Kenowa Hills Public Schools to support the district implementing their personalized learning vision.
Marysville, Ohio: Some members from our communications team visited Navin Elementary and Marysville Early College High School in Marysville, Ohio with Robin Kanaan. There, the KnowledgeWorks team got to talk with leaders, teachers and students, and see personalized learning in action.
— Navin Elementary (@NavinElementary) November 2, 2016
— Jillian Kuhlmann (@jtotheill) November 2, 2016
San Antonio, Texas: The KnowledgeWorks team was in full force at The iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium. Virgel Hammonds gave a keynote presentation, and the team presented during seven other sessions. Check out our press release for more information about those sessions.
— Robin Harriford (@robinharriford) October 26, 2016
Charleston, West Virginia: KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince kicked off the Excellence in Education: It’s Everybody’s Business summit with an exploration of the future of learning.
— Katherine Prince (@katprince) October 17, 2016
Washington, D.C.: Students across the country gathered in D.C. this week for Education Reimagined’s #SparkHouse event, which focused on learner-centered school. KnowledgeWorks President and CEO Judy Peppler and Virgel attended, as well.
Zurich, Switzerland: Katherine Prince flew across the pond for the Future of Learning Conference with the Inter-Community School. There, she spent two days with top leaders in international education, exploring the shifting landscape of educational practices.
The focus Tuesday night was largely on who would win the presidency, but other important races were taking place at state and local levels. Here in Cincinnati, voters passed Issue 44, which will expand access to two years of quality preschool in public schools and community providers throughout the Cincinnati Public School District.
— Kings Local Schools (@Kings_Schools) November 9, 2016
“We’re incredibly proud and thankful to Cincinnati taxpayers for their support of this levy. On Tuesday, nearly 90,000 voters let us know how much they care about our children and our schools. Despite being a pretty substantial increase, the measure passed with a margin not seen on a Cincinnati school levy since the 1950s and is the largest local investment in early learning we’ve ever made,” said Emily Lewis, Director of Operations for StrivePartnership. “This is a game-changing moment for our children, families, schools, and community.”
“The people of Cincinnati stepped up to say not only do we want to have a new levy to support public schools in Cincinnati, but we want to add more money to that so we can make preschool available to all three- and four-year-olds,” said Matt Williams, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for KnowledgeWorks.
Quality preschool provides a strong foundation for children. Children who have quality preschool before entering kindergarten are more likely to enter school prepared, succeed in school, graduate from high school and become productive citizens.
“I’m proud the Cincinnati community rallied behind strengthening quality schools and expanding quality preschool, which are critical to our city’s workforce, neighborhoods and future,” said Greg Landsman, who last December left his job as StrivePartnership executive director to focus full time on this effort.
Donna Porter-Jones and Brewster Rhoads, Co-Campaign Managers for Citizens for a Strong Future, echoes Landsman’s sentiments. “Never before has such a broad based coalition come together in Cincinnati in support of any ballot issue. Our children – and Cincinnati’s future – are the winners.”
The election is only a few days behind us, but the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump is hard at work putting together their plans for the first 100 days in office and the policy team here at KnowledgeWorks is putting the finishing touches on our own set of recommendations to help the next President create an education platform focused on the student. Today Matt Williams, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, and Lillian Pace, Senior Director of National Policy, from KnowledgeWorks sat down with Larry Jacobs to discuss personalized learning and the upcoming presidential transition.
Education wasn’t an area of focus during the presidential campaign. What might this new administration mean for education?
One misconceptions that has played out during this campaign is that if the candidates didn’t talk about something then it wasn’t a priority for either of them.
“In fact, we know that during one of his Town Hall events, [President-elect Trump] said he thought education was one of the three most important functions for the federal government, along with healthcare and national security,” said Lillian. “While it was one comment under the radar, it certainly brings a lot of hope to all of us in the education space.”
Because President-elect Trump didn’t lay out specific plans about education while on the campaign-trail, it means he is not tied to past statements and there is room for discussion and debate.
“I hope that everybody feels inspired to come together and figure out what the right path forward is,” said Lillian.
Vice-President elect Mike Pence is a proponent of school choice. What does that mean for public education?
“The United States has some work to do so I think we need to look at all of our options,” said Matt. “This notion of school choice, of ways to look at education differently, from our perspective at KnowledgeWorks, is a great entry point to really continue to bang the drum as it relates to personalized learning.”
No matter the type of school setting, the focus needs to be on the student. When a system implements personalized learning, they’re meeting students where they are, tying learning to real life experiences and empowering teachers. By personalizing learning we’re not only improving learning experiences for each individual student, but we’re making room to improve the education system as a whole.
“There is widespread agreement that our current approach to education in this country is not serving all students well,” said Lillian. “As a result, we’re starting to see this pendulum swing back from where we had a tightly controlled federal approach to education to a more decentralized approach.”
Our current approach to education doesn’t serve *all* students well. #PersonalizedLearning can.
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Some of this switch to giving states control has already started with the passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“Over the next four years, because of ESSA and because of what potentially might come with other legislation, local communities are going to be deciding, ‘This is how we want to chart a course for our children.'” said Matt. “Fundamentally, that’s a good thing because at the local level you have a greater understanding of what your community needs.”
An example of this type of local investment in education can be seen in Cincinnati with the recent passing of Issue 44, which makes preschool available for all three- and four-year-olds in Cincinnati.
KnowledgeWorks is focused on providing personalized learning opportunities to all students. What will we be sharing with the transition team to help advance this goal?
KnowledgeWorks will be sharing recommendations for the Presidential transition team over the next few weeks that will include strategies for scaling personalized learning across the K-12 and higher education systems. We look forward to working with the next Administration to create an education platform that leverages local innovation to ensure every student is challenged and every student succeeds.
— KnowledgeWorks (@knowledgeworks) November 10, 2016
Listen to the full discussion between Larry Jacobs of EduTalk Radio, Lillian Pace and Matt Williams about personalized learning and the presidential transition here:
The post What’s next for education with the new presidential administration? appeared first on World of Learning.
At KnowledgeWorks, we believe good thought leadership and policy must be grounded in best practices from the field. That is why, when creating the district conditions for scaling personalized learning, we spoke with over 35 district leaders who were having success transforming their traditional systems to a personalized learning environment. Because we recognize the absolute importance of teaching in a personalized learning system, we set out to determine how these conditions impacted teachers’ practice. The result of discussions with over 80 practitioners teaching in these personalized environments resulted in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”
Professional development, as defined in the district conditions:
Each district should offer a job-embedded professional development program that aligns with the district’s vision for teaching and learning and to student needs. The professional development program should foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement while leveraging technology that creates a customized experience for each teacher that is available at any place and time.
As you might expect, professional development was the most talked-about condition during our conversations with teachers. While many we talked to lead the implementation of personalized learning in their districts, few received professional development dedicated to implementing this transformation. Instead, many teachers took charge of their own development through independent research and visiting personalized learning schools, returning to their own schools and districts to share what they learned with colleagues.
Just as a personalized learning system provides customized supports to students, teachers and leaders should be engaged in identifying their needs and creating their own development activities. A variety of approaches to professional development were raised during the interviews including coaching, teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-leader collaboration and interest-based learning communities. It is important to encourage continuous improvement through professional development by creating customized pathways aligned to professional teaching competencies. These competencies should also align to the districts vision for teaching and learning.
For more on implementing professional development in a personalized learning environment, including interview excerpts and school and district examples, read ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.“
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For many students across the country, attending college starts their first day of high school. In Canton, Ohio, students at Timken Early College High School (TECHS) are able to get on the fast track to college in partnership with Stark State College.
“We have so many different students who have different end goals,” said J.P. Cooney, executive director for admissions and enrollment strategies at Stark State College, in an article in Akron Life. “Some want to come here for two years, get their associate’s degree, then transfer to a four-year university.”
Early colleges like TECHS provide higher education opportunities for students coming from first-generation college or low-income families, as well as racial or ethnic minorities. These programs would not be successful without close ties to their higher education partners. In Canton, students of all ages and background are fortunate to have the access and support that make obtaining a college degree a possibility.
The current principal of TECHS is Kenneth Brunner. He encourages students and staff not just to “dream big,” but to “make it a reality.” And they are.
- Learn more about Timken Early College High School in our new case study.
- Hear from a recent graduate of Timken Early College High School.
When Jac’Quir Pearson was in middle school, he was on a path to attend Timkin Early College High School in Canton, Ohio, with guidance and encouragement by his aunt, Jackie Evans.
The result? In the spring of 2016, Jac’Quir earned a high school diploma and two associate degrees from Stark State Technical College. At the same time. And today, he’s freshman at The Ohio State University studying chemical engineering.
Andrea Mulkey, National Director of Early College for KnowledgeWorks, interviewed Jac’Quir and his aunt Jackie at the Stark State graduation this past Spring to learn about his early college experience and what it means for his future and his family. Here’s what we learned:
As the first person in his family to graduate with a college degree, Jackie thinks her nephew Jac’Quir is setting a great example for his siblings.
“It makes me feel very great and happy for him, because he accomplished what his family didn’t accomplish,” said Jackie. “Some of them didn’t finish school. But he’s making a great example for them, and his brothers, and sister.”
Early college gave Jac’Quir access to invaluable opportunities and supports.
“What early college means to me is opportunities to excel,” Jac’Quir said while proudly wearing his cap and gown. “And more than just opportunities, invaluable opportunities with all the supports and internships that can be offered to any student who wishes to participate. Due to early college, I’m able to receive two associate degrees while I’m 18 years old, while graduating from high school. So that really means a lot, along with all of the support and resources that are available to me as a student.”
Jac’Quir explained to Andrea that at Timken Early College High School, they don’t just throw you in to the program to fend for yourself. “The teachers and the staff really are there to help you and support through your journey through early college. If you need help you can go and get it, and the help is always available to students.”
Jac’Quir encourages other students to explore early college
“I would highly recommend early college program because of all the resources, support and the leg up that you’ll get,” said Jac’Quir. “You’ll have a better chance.”
Watch our video to hear our interview with Jac’Quir and Jackie:
The post Why early college? For graduate Jac’Quir Pearson, it gave him a better chance in life. appeared first on World of Learning.
Guest post by Taylor, a ninth grader in Pittsburgh
I’m an active ninth grader. I run track for my high school, am a spoken word artist and want to be a public speaker in the future. I am a member of Sisters e STEAM, an organization that empowers young women with hands-on science lessons that use different areas of STEAM: science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Sisters e STEAM has changed school for me. It has shown me and the other women what science education can be and how learning can be fun. It takes what I love to do and matches it up with classes in a way that makes them interesting for me. That’s what personalized learning is to me. It means that what I learn in fits who I am as a person and what my interests are.
Another group I am active with is Youth Leading Change, which was started by Dr. Temple Lovelace. This is a program that has let us create spoken word that talks about things that are important to young people and to young girls. Working with Miss Temple Lovelace has been fun. We get to do a lot of things that allow us to share how we feel with other people. Youth Leading Change gives us what we need to learn about lots of ways to share your voice. There is podcasting, photography, music, spoken word and making movies. Ms. Temple wants us to share the things that we care about and to think about how we would fix problems at school or in our community.
It is because I work with them that I got to join Remake Learning Days last Spring. At the event, I was able to work with students from other schools and share ideas about what we would like to see school be in the future.
During Remake Learning Days, we talked about the past, present and future. We were able to talk about things that were important to us now, things that happened in the past that were really important and how we ended up where we are today. Then we talked about how the past and the future are linked. How certain events in the past related to the events in the future. We also talked about what we would like to see changed about education in the future.
Just like Youth Leading Change teaches us how to be heard, Remake Learning Days made sure students were part of planning ahead for our community.
When I think about the future of learning in Pittsburgh, I hope we focus on new ways of learning that are fun and less on testing. Because I like spoken word, Youth Leading Change let us do spoken word in our classroom. Learning that way matched my interests.
I think that the future of education will be focused on students and what we like to do. The future of education will have classes that mean a lot to us and that help us to find our passion. The future of education has to be made for students and who they are and who they want to be.
Exploring the future of learning with students:
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