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Welcoming Bridge to Success to the Cradle to Career network

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2014-07-15 14:00

Judy presents certificate

Peppler presents a certificate to Bridge to Success.             (Photo submitted by Bridge to Success)

 

Waterbury, Conn., had cause for celebration last week.

With engagement from business, philanthropy, civic, non-profit, faith-based, early childhood, k-12 and post-secondary education, healthcare, parents and students, the entire community has bridged cross-sector gaps and joined hands to support their students from cradle to career.

Last week, I attended a Bridge to Success Community Partnership event, welcoming the partnership into the Cradle to Career network. With the mayor, three school board members, superintendent and 70 other community partners in the room, the group publicly announced their goal to be the 10th StriveTogether sustaining community.

Part of what is making Bridge to Success productive is the dedication of partners and the community. Already, the partnership has made huge strides in garnering community-wide support.

  • They’ve established six outcomes that partners have agreed to work toward.
  • Every community council member has signed a partnership agreement for Bridge to Success.
  • The local school district has given their support, which builds and maintains trust across the partnership.
  • And the active Bridge to Success collaborative action groups bring together like-minded and passionate public and private partners, parents and caregivers to improve the lives of children in their city.

It’s easy to see that the entire community is energized and committed to the work, proving the possibilities in working collectively for student outcomes.

Congratulations to Bridge to Success and Waterbury, Conn., for your strides in this work. From our experience, we know it’s not easy. It takes a high level of engagement. It’s complex. But through the work of a dedicated community, change can (and will) take place.

We look forward to working with and learning from your community. Keep up the good work.

Bridge to Success partners

Bridge to Success partners pose in celebration. (Photo submitted by Bridge to Success)

 

 

 

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StriveTogether Expert Convening: Exploring What Works

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2014-07-09 14:00

What better way to learn about moving local-level student outcomes than asking people who are striving to move student outcomes in local cities across the country?

That’s exactly what StriveTogether has organized during their first-ever Expert Convening, which takes place today and tomorrow in Salt Lake City, Utah.

During the next two days, StriveTogether and six of the most advanced cradle-to-career partnerships will explore innovative ways attendees are using data to drive action and results to help kids throughout the country. With less than 25 participants at this invite-only event, StriveTogether will facilitate focused, dynamic conversations and interactive exercises to draw on participants’ knowledge and experience.

The conversations from this event will ultimately help inform future StriveTogether tools and resources that help the nationwide network in its collective impact efforts.

“This convening is the first time in which StriveTogether is bringing together its most advanced cradle to career communities to explore the innovative ways in which partnerships are using data to drive action to improve student outcomes,” Cradle to Career Network Senior Director Jennifer Blatz said. “Unlike other convenings on collective impact, this one doesn’t focus on building the partnership or creating a shared vision, but instead focuses on what are the actual actions that move outcomes.”

StriveTogether will use its Annie E. Casey Foundation results-based facilitation training throughout the convening. And, most excitedly, they will learn from and engage the cradle-to-career network in a new way.

“The goal is for participants to really connect with each other and learn from one another,” Cradle to Career Network Director Jennifer Perkins said. “At the same time, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to learn from these sites. We will leverage the knowledge and insight from this Expert Convening to help the network as a whole.”

Participating cradle to career partnerships include: All Hands Raised in Multnomah County, Oregon; Milwaukee Succeeds in Wisconsin; E3 Alliance in Austin, Texas; The P16Council of Greater Bexar County, Texas; The Commit! Partnership in Dallas County, Texas; and StrivePartnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

To learn more about what’s happening on the local level, join the conversation on Twitter by following @StriveTogether and #actionSLC, and check out the StriveTogether blog for updates.

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Eyes on Iowa: Imagining Student-Centered Education

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-07-03 13:00

Is climbing a rope really an effective measurement of physical endurance? I may be dating my public school education, but these are the kinds of questions educators are asking.

With a growing movement in competency-based education and personalized student learning, innovators are exploring the future of education and our ability to provide meaningful learning opportunities for each individual student.

Last week at a conference with Iowa ASCD and Iowa Department of Education, educators, higher education representatives and policy makers took a deeper dive to discuss Katherine Prince’s new paper, “Forecasting the Future of K-12 Teaching,” and our future of learning infographic, which both paint a picture of a learning ecosystem entirely focused on the individual student.

In an ideal future, education will be entirely focused on the individual student. There will be multiple learning platforms and more forms of school. Communities will take ownership and accountability of learning, and we will create new innovative educator roles to support all students in more creative, personalized ways. These learning agents will work with parents and students to develop individualized learning playlists in formal and informal contexts, based on each student’s values, aspirations and dreams.

At the conference, Katherine discussed this vision for the future of learning during the keynote address. Participants also engaged in an activity designed to help “imagine breakthrough change toward a diverse learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners,” she said.

Katherine also hosted a breakout session to discuss the future of K-12 educator roles, focusing on teachers, diversifying learning agent roles, and plausible futures for the profession. The session ran twice.

Lillian Pace, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of National Policy, also hosted a twice-run breakout session, “From NCLB to CBE: Identifying a New Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education.” The session explored major policy barriers for competency-based education and explored solutions to give communities and states the flexibility to study and scale this work.

“I love engaging with educators about federal policy because they bring new and important insights to the conversation,” Lillian said. “Iowa’s educators will be an important voice as we work to create a new federal K-12 policy that supports the growth of competency education.

“After two days working alongside educators in Iowa, I can see why the nation’s eyes are on the state. They have a focused vision and a tremendous amount of energy to make competency education a reality for Iowa students. I believe their leadership will create some compelling proof points that will move the national dialogue forward in an impactful way.”

Hopefully toward a discussion about creating opportunities for personalized learning, helping kids climb their own ladders to reach their aspirations, hopes and dreams.

_______

Iowa ASCD serves more than 1,100 educators, including teachers, principals, superintendents and principals, while collaborating to impact learning for every student in Iowa. “Competency-Based Education: Define! Design! Deliver!” brings together thought leaders and educators to focus on competency-based education, while building capacity to transform the current education system in Iowa.

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Cultivating New Cultures of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-07-03 09:00

Post image for Cultivating New Cultures of Learning

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in Grantmakers for Education’s 2014 Education Grantmakers Institute at the Harvard School of Education, which aimed to “get all of us thinking about how education and our learners are changing, and, as result, how our organizations need to change to have the kind of impact our missions demand.”

The conversation ended on a broad note, with emphasis on the need to cultivate large-scale systemic change to help the current education system transform into a vibrant node within the expanded learning ecosystem that our forecast on the future of learning projects. Of course I was pleased to hear this call, as I’ve been speaking and writing for some time now about how we’re facing much greater disruption, and much greater need, than incremental improvements within the existing educational paradigm can address.

But the conversation when beyond emphasizing the striking need to redesign our education structures to focus on learning for and in a world of anytime, anywhere access to knowledge and the continuous remaking of the conditions in which we live and work. It also explored the equally strong imperative to create new cultures of learning. Without them, my fellow participants observed, people operating in new structures will risk simply rubber banding back to the cultures we have always known.

The need to cultivate new cultures of learning has arisen in other recent conversations as well. In collaborating to design Grantmakers for Education’s June 30 event, “Transforming the Learning Ecosystem: Putting Personalized Learning Within Reach for All Learners,” I learned of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning. It argues that we need to design learning – even more flexible learning experiences than characterize today’s typical public school – not around specific learning objectives but around a process of inquiry that fuels a broader set of skills and dispositions for lifelong learning.

During a tour of MIT’s Media Lab, Mitch Resnick, who leads their Lifelong Kindergarten group, described that group’s focus on fostering creative learning for the world. In so doing, they create learning cultures characterized by projects, peers, passion, and play. As he put it, “Learning particular content is not the answer; people need to find creative solutions to the problems we know they’ll encounter.” Within our current education system, he said, kindergarten comes the closest to embodying this kind of learning, although it is increasingly becoming more regimented and more like the rest of the school system.

I hope we can reverse that kind of trend and strengthen the trends that are opening up learning to include many more possibilities for how, when, and what young people learn. That we can open ourselves to exploring fully not just new structures for learning such as competency education but also new cultures for learning that can support truly personalized learning. Learning that is not just paced to the individual but which is driven by his or her interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.

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Creating the Future of Teaching

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-06-19 10:42

 Four Scenarios for a Decade of Disruption.

I’m delighted to be releasing a new paper on the future of teaching! “Forecasting the Future of K-12 Teaching: Four Scenarios for a Decade of Disruption” examines how the disruptive changes shaping education might affect teaching in the next ten years. I wrote this paper given the crucial role that teachers play in young people’s lives. As we face dramatic changes to the fundamental structures of education, we need to be intentional about how we design for adults’ roles in supporting learning.

To help education stakeholders around the country create positive futures for the teaching profession, this paper presents four scenarios for the future of K-12 teaching in the United States:

  • A baseline future, “A Plastic Profession,” that extrapolates from today’s dominant reality to project what teaching is likely to look like in ten years if we do not alleviate current stressors on the profession and do not make significant changes to the structure of today’s public education system.
  • An alternative future, “Take Back the Classroom,” that explores what teaching might look like if public educators reclaim the learning agenda by helping to shape the regulatory climate to support their visions for teaching and learning.
  • A second alternative future, “A Supplemental Profession,” which examines what teaching might look like if today’s public education system does not change significantly but professionals from other organizational contexts become increasingly involved in supporting young people in engaging in authentic and relevant learning opportunities outside of school.
  • An ideal future, “Diverse Learning Agent Roles,” that explores how a diverse set of learning agent roles and activities might support rich, relevant, and authentic learning in an expanded and highly personalized learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners.

Each of these scenarios represents a plausible future for K-12 teaching reflecting different drivers of change that are at play in the world today. Emphasizing one set of key drivers versus another leads to different fundamental assumptions about how the future might play out, and therefore to very different narratives about how it might look. Even today, any one of the scenarios might not be equally likely in all places.

While it is unlikely that the future of K-12 teaching will unfold exactly as articulated in any of these scenarios, engaging with them can help us surface key issues facing the profession today, develop visions for what we would like teaching to look like in ten or more years, and create strategies for pursuing those visions while at the same time mitigating against less positive outcomes. We have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to look ahead and channel the forces of change at play in the world today toward outcomes that we want to create.

The choices we make about teaching today will affect not just teachers’ experiences of their profession but also the very design of learning itself and, most importantly, the extent to which we are able to support all learners in achieving their fullest potential. What future of teaching do you want to create?

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Creating Community Learning Landscapes

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-06-12 14:43

Earlier this week I had a chance to chat with Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio and Elizabeth Merritt of the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums about AAM’s Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem (see my excerpt on two scenarios for the future).  As the learning ecosystem expands, we see the potential for learning experiences to extend throughout community landscapes – both geographic and virtual – and for museums to play a key role as learning institutions and agents of change.

As I put it in my essay:

In the vibrant learning grid scenario, all learners would be able to move seamlessly across many kinds of learning experiences and providers, with learning agents from a variety of backgrounds supporting them in customizing and carrying out their learning journeys.  In the fractured landscape scenario, museums and other cultural institutions could help fill gaps left by the public education system, providing alternatives for at least some learners who might otherwise have access to few good opportunities.

Museums are great at fostering passion-based learning, which I’d love to see characterize the whole learning ecosystem.  They have much to share around cultivating inquiry, creativity, play, and other attributes that could support learners in following their interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.  And there is great scope for museums and other cultural institutions to extend how they contribute to local and worldwide learning landscapes.

What if we fostered community-wide ownership of learning, with learners moving seamlessly across place-based and virtual experiences as they followed their passions and pursued their learning outcomes?  What if urban mapping tools such as the fictional Community Learning Resources site helped surface and connect a community’s learning assets?  What if new kinds of learning agents, such as this learning journey mentor from the year 2025, helped guide and support learners in creating and pursuing truly personalized learning playlists?

We think that leaders from the education and cultural sectors can work together to integrate the nation’s assets into a vibrant learning grid that makes such possibilities work – and work well – for all students.

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Museums: Agents of change in a vibrant learning ecosystem

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2014-06-09 14:20

Field trip! My kids loved them. It was a chance to get out of the classroom, experience what they read in a textbook or on a ditto (did I just date myself?) and experience learning in a meaningful way that inspired curiosity, thought and imagination. They crave more hands-on, inquiry-based opportunities to learn.

Museums. They’re educational powerhouses.

  • Museums spend more than $2 billion a year on education. The typical museum devotes three-quarters of its education budget specifically to K–12 students.
  • Museums receive more than 55 million visits every year from students in school groups.
  • Museums create educational programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography and social studies, often tailored to the needs of state and local curriculum standards.
  • Each year, museums provide more than 18 million instructional hours for educational programs such as guided tours for students, staff visits to schools, school outreach through science vans and other traveling exhibits, and professional development for teachers

As KnowledgeWorks further explores the Future of Learning and expand the very idea that learning can and already does happen outside the classroom, we invite you to listen-in to this week’s EduTalk on

Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem.

When: Tuesday, June 10
Time: 9:00am (eastern time)

> Listen live

Our very own Katherine Prince, Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, and Elizabeth Merritt, Founding Director of the American Alliance of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums will be discussing the American Alliance of Museums recently published a report, to which KnowledgeWorks contributed, sharing ideas coming out of a convening organized with The Henry Ford in September 2013. Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem explores how leaders from the worlds of education and museums can work together to integrate the nation’s assets into a Vibrant Learning Grid in which all learners have access to the best of the expanding learning ecosystem.

Listen in and tweet #futureoflearning. Think of it as a… fieldtrip.

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Categories: Blog

Unique Opportunity on June 30 in Washington, D.C. – Transforming the Learning Ecosystem

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-06-05 15:25

Join us at Transforming the Learning Ecosystem, a one-day event, in collaboration with Grantmakers for Education and their Out-of-School Time Funder Network.

As avenues for learning expand, it is essential that we reach outside the traditional learning paradigm to meet the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s students. Since 2005, KnowledgeWorks has studied the trends shaping our world and helped education leaders plan for the future of learning.

Join us at Transforming the Learning Ecosystem, a one-day event, in collaboration with Grantmakers for Education and their Out-of-School Time Funder Network.

This event on June 30th in Washington, D.C., will give participants to opportunity to:

  • Learn more about future education trends;
  • Imagine how formal and informal learning environments can connect in transformative ways, creating learning ecosystems that put students at the center;
  • Discuss how ‘personalized learning’ can support youth voice and achievement, not just in niche programs, but at scale, with attention to equity and access for all;
  • Confront financial and policy challenges to realizing this new vision for future learning; and
  • Consider how grantmakers can spark transformation of the learning ecosystem.

Date: Monday, June 30, 2014
Time: 9:30am – 5:00pm
Location: The Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C. 

Admission to this event is free to GFE members. 

Register and view the full agenda.

Join us for this unique collaboration between Grantmakers for Education (GFE), KnowledgeWorks, and the GFE Out-of-School-Time Funders Network.

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Categories: Blog

Cultivating New Cultures of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-05-15 14:37

Last week I had the opportunity to engage in Grantmakers for Education’s 2014 Education Grantmakers Institute at the Harvard School of Education, which aimed to “get all of us thinking about how education and our learners are changing, and, as result, how our organizations need to change to have the kind of impact our missions demand.”

The conversation ended on a broad note, with emphasis on the need to cultivate large-scale systemic change to help the current education system transform into a vibrant node within the expanded learning ecosystem that our forecast on the future of learning projects. Of course I was pleased to hear this call, as I’ve been speaking and writing for some time now about how we’re facing much greater disruption, and much greater need, than incremental improvements within the existing educational paradigm can address.

But the conversation when beyond emphasizing the striking need to redesign our education structures to focus on learning for and in a world of anytime, anywhere access to knowledge and the continuous remaking of the conditions in which we live and work. It also explored the equally strong imperative to create new cultures of learning. Without them, my fellow participants observed, people operating in new structures will risk simply rubber banding back to the cultures we have always known.

The need to cultivate new cultures of learning has arisen in other recent conversations as well. In collaborating to design Grantmakers for Education’s June 30 event, “Transforming the Learning Ecosystem: Putting Personalized Learning Within Reach for All Learners,” I learned of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning. It argues that we need to design learning – even more flexible learning experiences than characterize today’s typical public school – not around specific learning objectives but around a process of inquiry that fuels a broader set of skills and dispositions for lifelong learning.

During a tour of MIT’s Media Lab, Mitch Resnick, who leads their Lifelong Kindergarten group, described that group’s focus on fostering creative learning for the world. In so doing, they create learning cultures characterized by projects, peers, passion, and play. As he put it, “Learning particular content is not the answer; people need to find creative solutions to the problems we know they’ll encounter.” Within our current education system, he said, kindergarten comes the closest to embodying this kind of learning, although it is increasingly becoming more regimented and more like the rest of the school system.

I hope we can reverse that kind of trend and strengthen the trends that are opening up learning to include many more possibilities for how, when, and what young people learn. That we can open ourselves to exploring fully not just new structures for learning such as competency education but also new cultures for learning that can support truly personalized learning. Learning that is not just paced to the individual but which is driven by his or her interests in meaningful collaborative contexts.

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Categories: Blog

District-level Competency Education Implementation in Maine

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2014-05-06 16:56

A while back, I wrote about a study that examined the implementation of the proficiency-based (or competency-based) diploma system in Maine. That study focused on school-level implementation. The same folks published another study that focused on district-level implementation in the state. I am going to quickly run through benefits, challenges, and recommendations in the study because I think the overarching challenges identified are most interesting.

Benefits:

  •  Improved student engagement
  • Continued development of robust interventions systems for struggling students
  • Collaborative professional work to develop common standards, align curriculum, and create assessments
  • Collective and transparent monitoring of student progress and needs by educators, administrators, and families

Challenges:

  • Developing clear, common definitions of key system components
  • Local implementation practices consistent with intentions of legislative policy
  • Building parent understanding and support for the new practices
  • Creating job-embedded, sustained professional time for collaboration
  • Understanding the unique needs and approaches of various grade spans or developmental levels, especially the stages of early childhood, the high school level and the population of students with identified special education needs
  • Developing comprehensive, sustainable learning management systems
  • Finding resources to assist with the predicted cost increases
  • Preparing students for post-secondary systems, specifically college and career readiness

Recommendations:

  • State should provide greater guidance in developing common definitions, and greater consistency in standards and assessments
  • State should continue to develop the technical assistance plan it outlined in the law and expand their assistance to include more support for district-level professional development
  • State should take a greater leadership role in helping school districts develop and implement learning management systems that support a proficiency-based system
  • Consider establishing an expanded system for continuous monitoring of both the Maine Department of Education and individual districts as implementation continues

As I said, the overarching challenges are most interesting to me. The first overarching challenge is systems thinking, specifically making sure you pay attention to all elements of the system and how they interact with each other as you’re working to improve the system as a whole. In systems thinking terms, this is called a crisis of fragmentation. The video below does a great job of explaining what the crisis of fragmentation is. This is tricky though. Because while this crisis is very real, there is also a system thinking axiom that says in order to optimize the system, you are required to sub-optimize some or all of the parts of the system. Vice versa, if you optimize the parts of the system, you are guaranteed to sub-optimize the entire system. So, my question is, are people willing to sub-optimize the parts of the system for the betterment of the whole system? This is a pretty difficult question, eh?

The other overarching challenge involves governance, specifically the local control culture in Maine leading to each district being tasked with defining their own competencies and creating their own curriculum and assessments aligned to those competencies. This creates huge discrepancies from district to district about what a high school diploma actually means. The report suggests a Dutch higher education governance model called “steering from a distance” to remedy this (you can learn more on page 7 of this report). Sorry to say, I am no expert on Dutch higher education governance but I will certainly be investigating this model more deeply in the future.

As both MERPI studies report, there are a lot of good people doing a lot of good work on the ground in Maine to advance the proficiency-based model. There continue to be significant challenges to this work and I look forward to continually monitoring, and learning from, these great edu-innovators.

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Categories: Blog

CBE Tour 2014 Post Game

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:30

Wow…what a week! Four days, five towns, four schools, one district, and a whole bunch of learning (and seafood). That is how I would describe our 2014 CBE Tour. If you followed us, our #CBETour2014, on twitter, you were able to see some of our learning in real time. For those of you not glued to your twitter stream, never fear, I will hit the highlights right here.

Boston Day and Evening Academy Mission and Vision.We began our tour at Boston Day and Evening Academy, a school dedicated to re-engaging “off-track students in their education preparing them for high school graduation, post-secondary success and meaningful participation in their community.” This was my second time visiting the school and the latest trip was just as impressive as the first. What stuck out most was the sense of community cultivated amongst the students. While students in many competency-based school progress based on mastery, students at BDEA progress in 11-week cohorts to ensure they have the support of their peers as they progress in their education. During lunch with three of BDEA’s students, it was obvious to anyone around the table that the students care for each other and about each other’s success.

Making Community Connections RulesFrom Boston, we went to Manchester, New Hampshire to visit Making Community Connections, or MC2, Charter School. Here, we were able to observe the students going through their daily routine, including a gateway (think dissertation defense) practice where a student was demonstrating his learning over the last twelve months. Most impressive about MC2 is the work they are doing around their habits, specifically the indicators associated with each of the 18 habits and the rubrics used to assess them. Of all of the competency-based schools I’ve read about and visited, MC2 is the most advanced when it comes to incorporating habits into all areas of learning.

RSU2.Our final stop on the tour was RSU 2 serving Hallowell, Farmingdale, Richmond, Dresden and Monmouth, Maine. Here, quite simply, my thinking about competency-based education was changed forever. I have had the pleasure of meeting the district’s superintendent, Virgel Hammonds, on several occasions, including a prior visit to his district. We’ve had several long discussions about the work he, his staff and his teachers are doing to implement competency-based, or proficiency-based as it is called in Maine, education in their district. But it wasn’t until last week that I finally, truly understood what he was talking about. Virgel, his staff and his teachers have worked tirelessly to tie all of their learning targets, another word for competencies, to the appropriate taxonomy level. Doing this ensures rigor throughout the curriculum. At its core, this means that not only are students not allowed to progress until they’ve met their learning targets but also that the learning targets they are striving to meet are actually preparing them for college and career. To steal a quote from Virgel (one that I know understand and adamantly agree with), “I don’t think you can have a proficiency-based system without tying the learning targets to taxonomy levels.” As I said, my thinking was changed forever.

All in all, the trip was amazing. From the very talented educators we had the opportunity to hang out with to the learning experiences that presented themselves, it was a week very well spent. To see more of our trip, you can check out our a compilation of our tweets.

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Categories: Blog

Speaking About the State of Children

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2014-05-05 15:11

Last week at the annual State of Our Children event in Fresno, California, educators and leaders from around the state gathered to discuss the welfare of children. StriveTogether Managing Director Jeff Edmonson gave the keynote address, discussing Collective Impact and how communities can successfully support children from cradle to career.

“The fact of the matter is we have to move from spray and pray, where we just spray resources all over the place and pray good things happen, to really beginning to identify what works for kids and then organizing as a community around that,” said Edmonson.

Read more coverage of the event from ABC or watch a video clip of the news story:

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Categories: Blog

CBE Tour 2014

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2014-04-25 16:04

Next week is going to be a competency-education packed week for several of us at KnowledgeWorks. Judy Peppler, Meredith Meyer, Catherine Allshouse, Matt Williams and I will be visiting several competency-based schools in New England. In an effort to see the power of competency education come alive in the classroom while examining what KnowledgeWorks can do to further contribute to the competency movement, we will be visiting Boston Day and Evening Academy, MC2 charter school and RSU 2 school district in Maine.

You can track our travels on Twitter by following the #CBETour2014 hashtag. We will also be blogging after the trip so be sure to check back so you can learn right along with us!

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Categories: Blog

Envisioning New Possibilities for Districts

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2014-04-21 11:00

WoL ForecastCould a future school function as a flexible learning space in which students moved fluidly across different kinds of learning experiences and points of focus, with a Chief Education Officer running the overall operations while master educators helped students craft their learning playlists using both local and cloud-based resources, topic-area facilitators provided intensive support in key subject areas, and specialists such as physical and occupational therapists provided support where needed?

That’s just one of the possibilities that district administrators identified in the course of exploring the future of learning at a leadership seminar hosted by the New Hampshire School Administrators Association last month.  As we explored what the expanding learning ecosystem might mean for schools and districts and what strategies they might explore to make use of future trends, participants saw room to begin working with those trends in the context of their current structures and resources.

Their ideas ranged broadly, playing out new possibilities for learning agent roles, new ways for district and communities to partner and intersect, and dramatic shifts in the conversations surrounding education:

  • Could we shift current educator roles to an expanded set of learning agent roles, with guidance counselors becoming proactive pathway visionaries, teachers becoming learning coaches, administrators becoming opportunity choreographers, parents becoming learning supporters and community connectors, and students becoming learning leaders?
  • Could a district operate as a learning village that helped students and learning agents weave together a rich array of learning experiences and locations reflecting community-wide ownership of learning?
  • Could school doors become permeable portals through which young people and other community members came and went as they learned together and connected coursework with local resources for authentic, multi-generational learning experiences?
  • Could education partner with industry to drive economic development, achieving mutual benefit and driving broader societal reinvigoration?

Some strategies for pursuing such visionary possibilities included:

  •  Raising community awareness about possibilities and the need for change
  • Co-creating and communicating an inspiring vision for the future of learning
  • Creating transformational learning opportunities
  • Improving technical tools and infrastructure to help learners and learning agents manage learning playlists
  • Gradually blurring school-community boundaries
  • Brokering new kinds of partnerships
  • Identifying local resources that could complement the services and supports that districts provide
  • Gradually changing the delivery of instruction toward personalized learning that can happen independent of place and time
  • Redefining educator roles.

I was encouraged to hear how possible it seemed for districts to create transformative possibilities for learners.  By reaching far together, we can steward the expanding learning ecosystem toward being vibrant for and supportive of all learners.

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Categories: Blog

Flipping Mastery

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2014-04-16 13:39

Several years ago, when I was working on our 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning, the two concepts that intrigued me most as I was looking for “signals,” or signs that the forecast was playing out in present day, were competency education and the flipped classroom. If you’ve read this blog or anything I’ve written in the last year or so, you already know what competency education is. For those of you new to me or the blog, here’s the working definition created by iNCAOL and CCSSO in 2011:

  • Students advance upon mastery.
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students.
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs.
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

For those of you unfamiliar with the flipped classroom, here’s a great video that explains it:

As I was perusing the January issue of Educational Leadership magazine from ASCD, I came across an article (sorry, it’s behind a pay wall) by the two men in the video above, Jonathon Bergmann and Aaron Sams, about smashing the two concepts together to create a “flipped mastery” model.

While I am no teacher, this seems like a pretty good idea to me. One of the challenges of implementing competency-based education in the classroom is that teachers feel overwhelmed trying to provide direct instruction while also delivering support to a group of students, many of whom are in different places on their learning progressions. This is one of the big challenges outlined in a recent study released by the University of Southern Maine that examines the implementation of proficiency-based (or competency-based) learning in that state. Ideally, teachers, or learning facilitators, would be able to rely on a whole slew of folks to provide “direct instruction” to students including community members, work-based mentors, parents, etc. so the entire responsibility would not fall back to the teacher, thus freeing him/her up to do more one-on-one and small group work. Setting up the structures to support that type of system takes time and, as mentioned in the blog post linked above, if it takes too much time teachers will revert back to the know best whole-group, direct instruction they know best. And, frankly, who could blame them?

With a flipped mastery model, teachers can offload their whole-class instruction to videos that students can watch at home, again freeing up classroom time for more individualized instruction. While I am not sure this is the total answer long-term, it seems to me that this is a great short-term solution that allows for the implementation of more student-centered instruction in the classroom while some of the structures that will support additional out-of-the-classroom learning are created and implemented.

Again, I am no teacher but what are the downsides to this? Am I missing something? I would love to hear from folks that are doing this work on the ground about they think this might work.

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Supporting Districts as the Learning Ecosystem Expands

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2014-04-14 14:14

Like it or not, the learning ecosystem is expanding.  As education goes through a time of disintermediation, learners and their families will have many options for deciding what learning experiences they consume, in what ways and in what combinations.  Not everyone will decide that they need traditional school districts to the extent that we need them today or in the same ways that we need them today.

People’s relationship with them has already been changing: witness the trends we’ve been seeing for some time toward the expansion of charters and other alternative school structures; the proliferation of online and blended learning platforms and supports; and the steady increase homeschooling, freeschooling, unschooling, and other forms of self-organized learning.  We’ve also been seeing the rise of new mechanisms (for example, Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation program) aiming to enable traditional districts to innovate within the current regulatory climate.

At the same time, our new normal is one of constrained resources in which districts, as participants at a workshop on the future of learning that I facilitated leading up to the Ohio ESC Association’s (OESCA’s) spring conference reminded me, have cut so deeply that it can be a challenge to find any time to identify potential innovations, much less pursue them.  Even as school districts need to operate differently, often with less, in a changing world, the roles that they play in communities beyond educating children can make it hard for their communities to accept change.  Think of how some communities coalesce around their sports teams, for a relatively simple starting point.  Not to mention districts’ role in providing relatively stable middle-class jobs and the correlation between district performance and property values.

As a society, we have a lot invested in the way things are even as we ask school districts to do more with an increasingly diverse population in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.  So how might educational service centers, intermediate units, and other regional organizations whose roles are to support districts and supplement their services help districts transition effectively toward acting as vibrant nodes in the expanding learning ecosystem?

In exploring that question, OESCA workshop participants imagined:

  • Advocating to change the regulatory climate to allow greater room for communities and families to lead education (in concert with and informed by business partners and economic needs) and to encourage collaboration rather than competition
  • Educating parents about new approaches to learning in order to build public will for change
  • Helping to facilitate the creation of regional learning academies that could offer a wide range of offerings for learners, regardless of their home school district
  • Organizing regional mastery-based learning collaboratives that drew heavily upon virtual supports and blended learning
  • Helping to reinvent schools as skill academies
  • Encouraging universal access to high-quality preschool as a foundation for success.

These are just a few possibilities.  We need to identify and explore many avenues for innovation.  Not for innovation’s sake.  But because our current structures aren’t able to educate all children in the ways that children need to learn.  Because the fundamental design of our system needs to shift to one that is appropriate for this new world we inhabit.

The pressure is mounting for public school districts, with a plausible future scenario being “No Child Left” and with another being “A Fractured Landscape” in which only some children have access to radically personalized learning.  What strategies do you see as having the potential to avert these negative scenarios and to create instead a diverse learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners?

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Competency Education State by State

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2014-04-10 10:29

See page nine of the report for state statusCompetency education, and the policies supporting its growth in K-12 education, continues to advance in states around the country.

For those not familiar with competency education, here is a working definition of the concept from iNACOL and CCSSO:

  • Students advance upon mastery
  • Competencies include explicit, measurable, transferable learning objectives that empower students
  • Assessment is meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.
  • Students receive timely, differentiated support based on their individual learning needs
  • Learning outcomes emphasize competencies that include application and creation of knowledge, along with the development of important skills and dispositions.

In February of this year, my colleague Maria Worthen, from iNACOL, and I released a paper entitled A K-12 Federal Policy Framework for Competency Education: Building Capacity for Systems Change that examined four domains of federal policy; accountability, systems of assessments, supports and interventions, and data systems. We not only identified federal barriers to scaling competency within each of these domains, but also offered policy solutions for states and the federal government to support the growing movement. On page nine of the report, you will find a map, developed by iNACOL, which illustrates the significant amount of state interest in competency education. The map specifically highlights advanced, developing, and emerging states based on recent policy developments ranging from the elimination of outdated seat-time policies to the adoption of competency-based diplomas.

My colleague, Jesse Moyer, and I have written extensively about some of the state-level policies supporting competency-based education, including:

  • Kentucky: Innovation Spotlight: Kentucky’s Districts of Innovation
  • Oregon: Is Oregon Ready to Scale Competency Education?
  • Maine: New Study Outlines Competency Education in Maine
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma is a State to Watch for Competency Education

For more information about competency education, KnowledgeWorks’ effort to support the movement, and other KnowledgeWorks’ publications on the topic, please visit the new competency education page on our website.

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Transforming District Governance: Exploring Education in the Year 2025 with NSBA

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2014-04-09 10:59

At the National School Board Association’s annual conference, I had the pleasure of sharing insights from KnowledgeWorks’ strategic foresight publications through a session on education in the year 2025. As we explored what the emergence of a vibrant and adaptive learning ecosystem might mean for the ways in which school boards operate schools, how teachers teach, and how school leaders interact with their communities, participants accepted the need for transformation but highlighted the need to build public will for change.

As I hear in so many conversations about the future of learning, they saw the need for stakeholders across their communities to see “school” differently. Districts face tremendous and widespread pressure from people who try to pull the education system back toward an outdated mental model of what school looks like and how it functions in communities. Those who steward them say time and again that the general public needs to understand the dramatic extent to which districts must respond to the changing environment. As learning de-institutionalizes and increasingly flows across traditional boundaries, districts need to consider how best to position themselves to be vibrant nodes in the expanding learning ecosystem.

The NSBA conversation also emphasized the need for communities to comprehend the vast changes coming to the world of work. Those changes promise to make college and career readiness for young people a moving goal, adding further complexity to the already extensive process of education system transformation. Those changes in work will also demand that many of us engage in continuous career readiness as we need continually to re-skill to stay relevant to the workplace and learn to manage mosaic careers.

As an article in the Economist proposed earlier this year, we face the potential for tremendous economic dislocation over the next two decades as automation continues to displace workers in existing industries and new industries develop. In response, the article proposed, schools “need to be changed, to foster the creativity that humans will need to set them apart from computers.” The article also projected that the definition of a government-provided education might change to include far greater investment in pre-school along with support for continuous education for adults. As it forecast, “state education may well involve a year of study to be taken later in life, perhaps in stages.”

Thomas Friedman’s NSBA talk about the challenges of preparing young people for a “hyperconnected” world echoed this message of dislocation. As relayed in NSBA’s summary, he argued that “the ability of anyone to make a living in the 21st century will depend in large part on being self-motivated and “innovation ready’” because we will be moving from a paradigm of finding jobs to one of creating them.

As learning, work, and productive activity of all sorts increasingly takes place apart from traditional organizations and as the ways in which we interact with organizations becomes more various and more ad hoc, districts will need to consider how to facilitate an expanded range of learning opportunities for students. That will include determining how and when to broker learning resources and experiences across traditional boundaries. Districts will also have an opportunity to help learners move seamlessly among school-based and community-based learning experiences and to form new kinds of partnerships that could lead to new solutions. Those that cannot shift their approaches to learning risk undermining their students’ ability to prepare for and create careers.

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Oklahoma is a State to Watch for Competency Education

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2014-04-07 14:27

OKLAHOMALate last year and early this year, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma State Board of Education adopted changes to their Administrative Rules that make them a state to watch in the competency education space. I was first alerted to these changes via this CompetencyWorks blog post.

The changes made to Title 210, Chapter 35, Subchapter 27 have to do with proficiency-based (another term for competency-based) promotion. Sent to the Governor and Legislature on March 6, 2014 for approval, these modifications to Subchapter 27 allow for testing for the express purpose of determining proper grade/course placement and credit by examination; earning credit for a class by passing a test, or “testing out,” instead of taking the course. The new rules also allow for different tools (portfolios, theses, projects, performances, recitals, etc.) to be used when assessing for placement or credit. All assessments, performance or more traditional tests, are required to be aligned with district academic standards and accurately measure the demonstration of competencies in the specified subject matter.

Changes to Title 210, Chapter 35, Subchapter 9, Part 7, Standard IV were sent to the Governor and Legislature for approval on December 19, 2013. These alterations outline new graduation requirements in the state. While the content of the requirements are what you’d expect (math, science, social studies, etc.) the new grad requirements are expressed in terms of completion of units (the Carnegie Unit) or completion of “sets of competencies” which are defined as “instruction in those skills and competencies that are specified skills and competencies adopted by the State Board of Education without regard to specified instructional time.” Some of the changes made in Subchapter 9 are a little unclear to me. For instance, I am not exactly sure what the sets of competencies will be, or are, based on. An encouraging sign, at least as I read it, is that the competencies will be adopted by the State Board, which means each district will not be tasked with coming up with their own competencies thus creating a system where a high school diploma means something different in each district.

What’s most interesting to me about these policy changes is that the way they are written leaves room for further policy development that will support competency. I look forward to monitoring the progress in Oklahoma, and other states, as the competency education movement continues to expand.

For more information about KnowledgeWorks’ activities around competency education, visit our new competency education page.

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New Tech Network, KnowledgeWorks to present at NSBA Annual Conference

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2014-04-04 16:37

New Tech Network and KnowledgeWorks will present at the National School Board Association Annual Conference beginning this weekend in New Orleans. The National School Board Association (NSBA) “supports the capacity of each school board, acting on behalf of and in close concert with the people of its community, to envision the future of education in its community, to establish a structure and environment that allow all students to reach their maximum potential, to provide accountability to the community on performance in the schools, and to serve as the key community advocate for children and youth and their public schools.”

Nick Kappelhof from New Tech Network will be presenting on why a A ’21st Century’ Education Is SO Last Century

Krista Clark and and Theresa Shafer, also from New Tech Network, will be presenting Branding and Marketing Your School with Social Media

And Katherine Prince from KnowledgeWorks will be delivering a Meet the Expert session on Education in the Year 2025 featuring work recently launched by the American Alliance of Museums about the future of education and how museums can be integrated with schools and other educational assets into the vibrant learning grid. Look for a post from Katherine about the work later next week on this blog.

 

For a full conference schedule visit the NSBA Conference site.

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