Sharing the Load: How You Can Work Together With Local Business and Community Leaders

Posts from WOL - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 8:00am

An essential component to a strong learning community is transparency – everyone, from students to teachers and parents, business and community leaders, needs to be able to see and understand what students are learning, how and why. And the start of the year is a good time to think about how you can cultivate advocates for personalized learning.

Champions likely already exist within your community, but how can you identify and engage them? For guidance, I consulted with some experts, including Brad Ray, superintendent of Garfield School District 16 in Colorado, Brett Grimm, assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at Lindsay High School in California and KnowledgeWorks Chief Learning Officer Virgel Hammonds. Here are four recommendations based on their experiences.

Focus on making connections

Most individuals within your community, parents and leaders alike, are invested in the success of students. “It’s not difficult to get people to want to be involved,” said Grimm. “We have specific personnel to do this work: an assistant principal who does a lot of work with pathways, internships and sits on advisory boards. We also have a work-based learning coordinator whose whole job is to reach out to partners and community members, to get them involved, to follow up with our kids doing internships.”

Don’t count anyone out

Hammonds stressed that even those who want to help may not know how. “If they don’t have kids or a connection to the school, it’s hard for them to see how they can be involved,” said Hammonds. “But when we’re an open book about our goals as a district, we’ll find more ways to tackle universal challenges together. There are many organizations within your community – find out what they’re trying to address, whether it’s inequity or opportunity or something else, and how you can support each other.”

Create clear goals, together

According to Ray, “by creating strategic goals with the board of education, building administrators, community and staff, you are left with clearly articulating those goals and budget to implement, measure and achieve them.” When everyone has a hand not only in the creation of strategic goals, but a stake in ensuring their success, community members will take an active role in realizing the outcomes that you want.

Invite your community not only to work with you – but to celebrate with you

Ray shared that learners and educators bring everyone together, either at their school or somewhere within the community, to celebrate the semester-long learning projects the students have engaged in. “We partner with local business and industry experts to be involved in the planning, delivery and celebration of the learning,” said Ray. “For a project on habitat and ecosystem control, for example, they partnered with the Division of Wildlife and hosted their culmination at the park and pond downtown.”


Download KnowledgeWorks' Back-to-School Toolkit to uncover insights from other district and school leaders.Looking for more ideas for partnering with your community? Download our Get Ready: Back-to-School Culture Toolkit to uncover insights from other district and school leaders.

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ESSA Trends in School Improvement: Meeting Students Where They Are

Posts from WOL - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 1:11pm

If we want to improve schools and communities, we need to first meet students where they are. This isn’t a belief I came to arbitrarily. Rather, it’s one I developed while in school to become a social worker and one that I see as essential to an education system that is effective for all students. In social work, we talk about meeting a client where they are, recognizing individual and systemic concerns. The same is true in teaching and learning. Personalizing individual support for students and systemic support of schools, both important parts of personalized learning, will help the education system in the United States be more effective for everyone.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), schools were required to use specific types of support to help students achieve academic success, which didn’t work for far too many of them. Federal law is no longer prescriptive about how the lowest-performing schools improve their accountability status, and instead leaves much more room for states and local districts to decide how to turn around low performing schools. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), NCLB’s successor, requires states to establish two categories for intervention and support and to implement more rigorous interventions in the identified schools that do not improve after a certain amount of time, but states have the flexibility to establish their own framework for providing supports and interventions for schools.

There are some promising trends in state ESSA plans for school support and improvement that focus much more on meeting students and schools where they are, and providing them with the individualized support they need to succeed. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I think it illustrates the direction that a good number of states seem to be headed as they strategize ways to best support the needs of their schools.

Using Real-Time Data to Support Continuous Improvement and Address Emerging Needs

States have begun to emphasize the importance of providing (and understanding) real-time data to support continuous improvement at all levels of the system, including differentiating instruction for students and evidence-based supports for educators and schools. Some states will begin to provide existing data more frequently to educators, while others will begin to monitor and collect additional data “snapshots” throughout the year.

Simply having access to data is not enough, so many states will use this access to provide targeted technical assistance and help schools improve upon their emerging needs in a timely fashion. At the classroom level, teachers will now have access to data that will help them create personalized learning plans and differentiate instruction, also highlighted in state ESSA plans.

Engaging Families and Communities to Create the Right Kinds of Support

The trend of better engaging families and communities in creating supports seems to be playing out in both strategy and guiding principles for states. Stakeholder engagement is emphasized throughout ESSA, and while a good number of states have not proposed specific strategies for engagement in their plans, others are obviously thinking critically about how to thoughtfully involve parents and families in the school and improvement process.

A couple of exciting highlights include Rhode Island’s development of Community Advisory Boards for School Redesign, and New York’s participatory budgeting process that will allow parents to help determine how support funds are spent in their student’s school. I’m particularly fond of the ways in which states can utilize this strategy for improving schools. Authentically engaging parents, families, and community members in developing improvement plans alongside traditional school stakeholders not only empowers them in providing feedback, but also empowers schools in developing plans that will best benefit their students.

Opportunity for School-Level Flexibility and Innovation

A handful of states have proposed creating opportunities for flexibility and innovation for schools in need of support, allowing schools to personalize their strategies for improvement. These states will allow low-performing schools to apply for some additional flexibilities from policies most often using innovation zones and/or pilot programs. Key to this trend is that states are also providing intensive support, feedback, and evaluation for these schools, and will continue to hold them accountable for reaching rigorous outcomes.

Guidance for Social and Emotional Learning, Climate, and Wrap-Around Services

States are beginning to recognize the importance of differentiating support for students beyond academics as a strategy to improve academic outcomes, especially in traditionally low-performing schools. State strategies to address this issue through ESSA include work on the development of social and emotional learning standards, providing additional guidance and support to better utilize existing statewide initiatives (for instance the Whole School Whole Child Model being used in North Carolina), and training around mental health services, trauma-sensitive schools, and behavioral interventions.

BONUS: States are also focused on ways to continually improve all schools!

Although schools that fall under ESSA’s school improvement designation will receive far more intensive supports, states are also aware that tools and resources to help schools continuously improve are important for everyone, whether it’s including all schools in the continuous improvement plan process, or providing multiple tiers of support for all schools in the state.

Of course, the hardest work is yet to come for schools in need of improvement. I am encouraged that states are considering how to meet schools and districts where they are to develop a plan that’s meaningful for their specific needs. I am also encouraged to see that a good number of states have chosen to find ways to support all their schools with differing levels of continuous improvement opportunities, not just those categorized as highest need.

Next week I will highlight a few of the states that thoughtfully approached this topic. Stay tuned! In the meantime, see for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.

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Layne Shelton: The Limits of Technology

Posts from WOL - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 8:00am

Guest post by Katie King

Reflections from Imagine FutureEd

This blog series features highlights from interviews with the winners of Imagine FutureEd, an online student design competition that KnowledgeWorks hosted in partnership with Teach the Future. Excerpts from the winning scenarios, additional reflections from their creators, and educator resources can be found at the Imagine FutureEd website.

Layne Shelton is a high school student from Trigg County, Kentucky. The scenario she submitted to Imagine FutureEd explored some of the downsides of an overdependence on technology in the classroom, such as lack of face-to-face communication and socialization among students and potential vision problems. Ultimately, she concludes that each student learns differently and needs access to tools that work for them. Below is an excerpt of an interview with Layne, edited for length and clarity.

Describe how you came up with your ideas.

I did research and we had guest speakers in our class talk about what the future might be like. I also watched videos and relied on my imagination! We are all uncertain of what the future is going to be like, but that is the fun in the project for me. In the year 2027, I hopefully will have kids of my own who will soon be in school. I will enjoy telling my kids about the project and tell them I helped to shape their future!

You mention that the future is uncertain, which is true. How do you think we can help people make good decisions for themselves and others amid that uncertainty?

Making good choices is a decision made by one single person, yourself. We can try to give guidance and help others make good choices but the decision is ultimately yours. At my school, we have amazing guidance counselors to be there at each need and to help us understand this uncertain world. In my community, we have encouraging pastors and leaders to help the young generation get involved and have good influences. There are numerous resources available to lead us to positivity and good choices.

Do you think that thinking about the future of learning is important? Why or why not?

I believe thinking about the future of learning is extremely important because we need to become prepared for what is to come. As a future educator, I need to think ahead and change with the future. If I am stuck in the past then I am setting my future students up for failure. It is important to stay with the time and become familiar with what is out there.

What are your major takeaways after completing the Imagine FutureEd competition?

My largest takeaway from the competition is that thinking the future is fun! Many would be skeptical that could be fun or useful because there is a large probability that they could be wrong. However, there is a small chance that I could be right and even if I am not, we can still think about all the ways things will change and grow and try to help shape the future.


KnowledgeWorks is hosting a student design competition, Imagine FutureEd.Visit the Imagine FutureEd website to read excerpts from Layne’s scenario and more reflections from her on the process of thinking about the future of learning.

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5 Goals to Set This Year for a Strong Classroom Culture

Posts from WOL - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 8:00am

Take advantage of this new school year, while everything from school supplies to students’ smiling faces is shining and new, to set classroom goals that will help you and your students co-create a strong classroom culture. Here are five goals you might consider for your classroom:

1. Empower students as leaders and decision makers

Key to personalized learning is the idea that students own their own learning; it’s the difference between a teacher-centered classroom and a student-centered classroom. When students own their own learning, they are empowered to make decisions about how to demonstrate mastery, when and how to ask for assistance and to explore topics that are interesting to them.

As you work with students over the course of this year, ask the question: “How will you encourage and empower each one to own his or her own learning?” Marina Hopkins recommends using “How might we…” questions to further this type of exploration, such as:

  • How might we amplify student voice in the classroom?
  • How might we make learning interactive and experiential over the course of this school year?
  • How might we encourage stronger teacher/student relationships?

2. Celebrate student growth

Learning opportunities come both from successes and failures, particularly when we take the time to reflect on what has and hasn’t worked and how that effects our actions moving forward. How will you take the time this school year to celebrate student growth? Here are some ideas you can borrow from:

  • At Northwood Elementary in Marysville, Ohio, students wear brag tags to celebrate growth in academics and behavior. Students are recognized by teachers as well as peers, promoting a culture of collegiality.
  • At Henry Cottrell Elementary in Monmouth, Maine, students celebrate their growth with balloons. As students progress toward mastery, their balloons get bigger; all students have balloons and feel pride as their balloons grow!
  • At Waukesha STEM Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, students share their growth at STEM Student Showcases. Students share what they are passionate about via their STEMfolios, or digital portfolios.

3. Model a growth mindset and foster the same in your students

When Abbie Forbus sat down with State Teachers of the Year to talk about personalized learning, there was consensus that teachers wanted to see more students becoming lifelong learners. They saw teaching growth mindset alongside the academic curriculum as essential to helping students graduate college and career ready. One way to teach growth mindset is to model the behavior for your students!

“A growth mindset is so important because it means our intelligence isn’t fixed,” said Robin Kanaan. “Our intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort and a focus on learning.”

We have an obligation to gift each one of our students with the chance to become better. When we can foster an environment where everyone has a growth mindset, it leaves us open to struggle, trial and failure, but also triumph.

Students often don’t know that effective learners reflect on the strategies they use https://t.co/WCt8e68BV0 #edchat #growthmindset

— MindShift (@MindShiftKQED) July 16, 2017

4. Partner with students to apply the district vision to your classroom

“Vision isn’t something you put up on a plaque,” said RSU2 Superintendent Bill Zima during a conversation with Jesse Moyer. “It really needs to be revisited and thought about and talked about. Is what we’re doing aligned to our vision? If not, do we need to readjust the how or why to make sure everything is aligned?”

If a district vision is strong, it can be applied at every level of teaching and learning within the district, particularly within the classroom. Work with your students to look at the vision and apply it to the work you are doing.

A #schooldistrict‘s shared #vision informs the system culture https://t.co/VlfMnuJQ4J @knowledgeworks #personalizedlearning #edpolicy

— Learning Community (@EdPersonalized) July 1, 2017

5. Create a culture of transparency within your classroom

We often talk about transparency as being essential to personalized learning because it allows members of the learning community to be informed about what’s happening and play an active role in creating the desired culture. Students are an essential part of the learning community, so how can you promote transparency in your classroom?

At the Early Childhood Center of Kenowa Hills, where students range from ages two to five, staff have focused on increasing transparency with both students and parents throughout this school year using data walls.

“Hallways have been transformed into a public data wall to correspond with each learning standard,” said Laura Hilger. “When students demonstrate the standard, they post their accomplishment – in the form of a key to ‘unlock their future’ – for all to see.”

Using #DataWalls to Increase Transparency in #CompetencyBasedEducation: https://t.co/CeX8Bpc7zD @KenowaHills @HilgerL #CompEd #CBE

— Abbie Forbus (@Aforbus) June 26, 2017

For Angela Patterson, a teacher in the Elmbrook School District, transparency has helped transform relationships between students and teachers. “Transparency has helped to solidify the commitment to student-first environments,” she said. “It ensures that each child in our school is truly “our student,” not just mine, yours or theirs.”

Interested in learning more about creating strong classroom culture? Follow @knowledgeworks on Twitter and join our #B2SChat on August 17 at 7:00 PM EST.

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We need your help! Vote for KnowledgeWorks to present at SXSWedu!

Posts from WOL - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 4:30pm

KnowledgeWorks is hoping to present at SXSWedu and we’d like your help. Frankly, we’d like your vote. A public thumbs up is worth 30% of the total vote, so if you would, please exercise your civic SXSW festival duties and cast your vote for KnowledgeWorks!

(*Note: You are allowed unlimited votes so please vote for as many sessions as you’d like)

Preparing Students for an Uncertain Future of Work

Let’s face it. Book smarts probably won’t mean as much in a future workforce more supported by increasingly smart machines. Future workers will need to adapt and quickly learn new skills in order to succeed. How can we help students prepare for this future of unknowns? How can we prepare them not only for college and career, but also to create fulfilling lives as adults? Between a futurist, superintendent, neuroscientist and ed-tech start-up insider, we have some ideas and we’re ready to share.

Personalized Learning and Gubernatorial Candidates

It’s election season and this hotly contested governor’s race will be decided by their educational platforms.  Come and watch our two candidates in a mock town hall forum. They will present their education platforms and debate the merits of retaining current school structures or shifting to a personalized, competency-based learning ecosystem.  Audience members will be given the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences as learners and educators.

Building Consensus for Personalized Learning

Competency-based, blended, project-based, inquiry-based, experiential, Montessori… and the list goes on. How do you build consensus for personalized learning in such a seemingly divided education landscape? With thoughtful messages and communications strategies, state and school leaders can gain buy-in and overcome myths and negative messages. Here’s how to build consensus for personalized learning, according to research data and real-world examples.

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A Futurist Freak-Out: My Personal Response to a Platform-Based Future of Work

Posts from WOL - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:00am

As a foresight professional, I’ve been trained to create scenarios that contain a mix of positive and negative elements. Taking a balanced view is more useful than indulging in utopian visions or detailing dystopian nightmares. Even though we aimed to do that in writing our recent paper on the future of readiness, I have a hard time seeing the positive in one of the scenarios that it presents.

Set in the year 2040, “Working the Platforms” describes a future in which a laissez-faire societal response to high levels of technological displacement leads to an extremely taskified employment landscape. In this highly competitive scenario, most people find piecework via automated dispatching platforms (think Lyft or Taskrabbit on steroids). They often make specific contributions without much sense of the whole, and they rely heavily on digital reputation management to find successful matches. It’s kind of like access to work has become mediated by an online dating platform, except that people can’t get away with posting decades-old photos. While some people harness the power of the platform for their own uses (for example, to manage a plumbing business or find distributed markets for niche goods or services), working in this world requires emotional resilience, persistence and careful data management.

Even as a futurist who is used to playing in the world of uncertainty and considering future possibilities, I find this scenario destabilizing. Its extreme uncertainty and fragmentation scare me. While I have had different kinds of jobs over the course of my career and found it deeply strange when in 2003 I secured an employment contract that could have lasted until I turned 65, I find it hard to imagine having the fortitude and the resourcefulness to piece together sufficient work from many small assignments, or gigs. Some people do that today and thrive in it, but I haven’t developed that muscle. The overlay of the matching’s being handled algorithmically makes this platform-based scenario feel particularly sterile and stressful to me.

I worry not just for my own ability to navigate such a future, but also for its potential impacts on communities. Inequities could increase as those few with the means to access higher education occupy an elite reminiscent of robber baron days. Communities could become more fragmented as competition increases and becomes more global. Stress levels could increase as people inhabit a constant state of hustle. I know that there could be positive outcomes, such as greater flexibility, new collective solutions that help buffer people against uncertainty or greater variety of experience, but I have a hard time seeing and feeling them.

My personal response aside, foresight professionals are taught to hedge our bets. Generating scenarios that exploring multiple possible futures can help us generate strategies for thriving no matter how current uncertainties play out. For me, my future readiness strategy currently centers around continuing to learn, pushing my professional practice by developing new skills, incorporating new perspectives and applying current skills in new contexts. Fostering professional relationships also feels important. In addition, I’m looking at ways to demonstrate competency around skills such as project management that are less central to my work than they were earlier in my career but which I might need to document for the future. I’m considering, too, how I might deepen my emotional resilience so that I’ll be more likely to thrive in ambiguity and uncertainty. Lastly, I’m musing on how to get better at telling the story of my career in ways that convey the resilience and learning that have already marked a journey characterized by working again and again in fields or jobs that I did not know existed until I stumbled upon them.

What skills will you need to be ready for the future of work? Download “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” for an in-depth look at the readiness skills the students of today may need to be successful for the work of the future.

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Unlikely Partnerships: Superintendents Can Find Additional Support Outside District

Posts from WOL - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:00am

Personalized learning doesn’t happen in a bubble. Instead, it depends on support from a network of advocates who work tirelessly toward its success.

Mesa Valley District 51 (D51) has reached beyond the school walls to build partnerships to support the work. While D51 has learned to engage its community, the district also turns to other like-minded districts to build a community of practice, state leaders for policy help and outside organizations for support and professional development.

“If we want our kids to be successful, we have to do something different,” said Steve Schultz, now-retired D51 superintendent. “I’m just convinced that you have to have connections and partnerships in order to do this work, because the problems in every community are different.”

By turning to partners, D51 has built a support system to help district staff, teachers, students and community members throughout the personalized learning journey.

Connecting with like-minded districts

District leaders have recently organized purposeful visits to districts and schools in the Denver area. By sharing lessons learned and pooling resources, the districts have started collaborating to help each other succeed.

“We’re encouraged about districts throughout our state,” D51 Director of Performance-Based Learning Rebecca Midles said. “We’re working with districts and networks to pool our resources and work together and support one another. It’s not at all competitive; it’s very collaborative. People are making themselves vulnerable and throwing themselves into the arena to talk about what’s best for kids. It’s really drawn people together instead of apart and it’s an exciting place to be in Colorado.”

Turning to state policymakers

While some states are showing increased support for personalized learning, there are still many policies that pose challenges to district innovation.

Because of these barriers, D51 has found friends in the state capitol.

“It’s also helpful to have partnerships at the state level,” Schultz said. “This is not something you go alone, and we’ve been lucky that state leaders have been encouraging us and, at the same time, looking for ways to reduce barriers for districts that are interested in doing this work.”

Partnering with outside organizations

D51 has partnered with national organizations, like KnowledgeWorks, to provide technical support through professional development, a summer institute for staff, strategic communication advice, and general support for the move to competency-based, or proficiency, education.

“Without having partners like KnowledgeWorks, you just can’t bring it to scale without that kind of support,” Schultz said. “You just need technical support. We had KnowledgeWorks come help us create recommendations for communication. We’re working on upgrading our website, going to community service club meetings and giving presentations to local community groups. We’re continuing to explore different ways of communicating and build on the recommendations KnowledgeWorks provided.”

Learn how another district used partnerships to strengthen its personalized learning work.

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Personalized Learning and Discovery

Posts from WOL - Fri, 08/04/2017 - 11:51am

By Lindsey Bowen, an intern with the talent management team at KnowledgeWorks. Lindsey is a student at Xavier University pursuing her Master of Arts Industrial/Organizational Psychology.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a common question we all got asked as children. I never had an answer. I didn’t want to be a firefighter, or a teacher, or a doctor, but those were the only three careers I knew of when I was a kid. Fortunately, personalized learning allowed me to use my education to discover my interests and explore different future career options.

I was homeschooled starting in the first grade which allowed me to learn at my own pace, visit historical sites in person, perform extensive research on topics of my choosing and participate in many sports and theater performances. I continued with homeschooling until high school. At that point, I chose to enroll in an online high school and had advanced far enough in my course work that I was able to start as a sophomore instead of a freshman. Earning my high school diploma this way gave me a lot of flexibility and taught me applicable time-management skills. Knowing I had to get all of my work done by June each year if I wanted to have a summer vacation was a strong incentive. I had no choice but to become very self-regulated in managing my school and extracurricular activities. It took some trial and error, but I became very responsible and accountable for my own learning.

My nontraditional education gave me the chance to explore and discover my interests and learn more about myself. Through my personalized coursework I was able to identify what I was passionate about. I was drawn toward the social sciences as an early teen. I sought out psychology literature to read “for fun,” and at 14 years old, I seriously considered how I could translate my scholastic interest into a career. I took it upon myself to perform extensive internet and library research on what a career in psychology might look like. Shortly after, I chose psychology as my intended major on college applications. I moved away to college at 16 years old, and received my bachelor’s degree in psychology four years later.

Personalized learning provided me the opportunity to explore my strengths, uncover my passions, and cultivate my interests in a way that could translate into a career. My education opened the door to all that I could be good at, and then allowed me the personalization in my studies to hone in on what I really loved. While my college friends changed their major three or more times, I was confident that the field I chose as an early teen was right for me. It also made me independent and reliant only on myself when it came to learning. The transition to college was easier for me than it was for my friends who experienced a more traditional education. For them, college was too unstructured, they had too much freedom and lacked the time-management skills necessary. For me, I was doing exactly what I had done my whole life, which was taking responsibility for doing work independently, and pursuing continual learning and discovery. The only thing that changed for me was that I had to go to class at specific times (and not in my pajamas). I graduated college with a 4.0 GPA, and I am now nine months away from completing my graduate degree in industrial/organizational psychology.

Personalized learning allows children to learn at their own pace in an individualized environment. They can learn instead of being taught at. I had a well-rounded education, and completed all state requirements, but instead of using 50 minutes equally in every class, I could spend 30 minutes doing X and Y, then dedicate the rest of my time to what I really cared about. For me, personalized learning meant I got exposed to a wide variety of subjects and choose what I wanted to dedicate my time and energies more intensely into. Not only did I develop the self-regulatory skills that allowed me to succeed in college and my career, but I effectively avoided calculus like the plague.

The way that personalized learning came together in my life was unique, and I am very grateful that my family could sacrifice their time and finances to provide the tools I needed to be successful. Through personalized learning, I had the freedom to discover, and I learned how to learn. Personalized learning taught me that learning is a lifelong process, however structured or unstructured that learning may be. In 2017, educators and policymakers have the opportunity to make personalized learning accessible on a broad scale: a transformation that was not possible 20 years ago. The value that personalized learning brings to education is that it provides the foundation for students to take control of their futures by discovering their passions and acquiring transferable skills that will help them become competent, malleable, and passionate workers who are ready to confidently enter their careers.

To me, personalized learning means discovery, and I now know what I want to be when I grow up.

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Sierra McLeod: The FutureEd Interactive Simulator

Posts from WOL - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 8:00am

Guest post by Katie King

Reflections from Imagine FutureEd

This blog series features highlights from interviews with the winners of Imagine FutureEd, an online student design competition that KnowledgeWorks hosted in partnership with Teach the Future. Excerpts from the winning scenarios, additional reflections from their creators, and educator resources can be found at the Imagine FutureEd website.

Sierra McLeod is a recent high school graduate from Charlotte. The scenario and artifact she submitted to Imagine FutureEd depicted the students’ experiences using the FutureEd Interactive Simulator (FIS), which allows students to use holographic images to fully explore concepts such as astronomy and geography. She explores how the FIS might address some of the challenges of using technologies such as virtual reality in the classroom today. Below is an excerpt of an interview with Sierra, edited for length and clarity.

Describe the FutureEd Interactive Simulator from your scenario.

The FutureEd Interactive Simulator (FIS) encourages children to become more active, aware, and engaged in the classroom. The FIS is unlike any regular projector or virtual reality system. It’s an enhanced combination of both. A regular classroom projector only shines towards the front on the room. Students who sit towards the back of the classroom may be unable to see well or at all compared to those who sit towards the front of the classroom. Virtual reality glasses block a person’s view from their surroundings, or hinder a glasses-wearer’s view. Augmented reality systems require someone to hold a device, which may cause damage if it is dropped. The FIS is a hands-free solution to bring a movie-like learning experience into a classroom. Students can view, touch, and interact with holographic images. They are taken to a new realm with sound and special effects (such as steam or flashes of light). The FIS has manual controls on both the classroom light and the light switch. There are endless possibilities when it comes to the future of learning – the FutureEd Interactive Simulator is a revolutionary invention that would change how we learn.

Imagine if the FIS system were widespread. What might that mean for the education system and our society overall? What would be the benefits of such a system? What might be the downsides?

If the FIS system became widespread, many opportunities are opened for our education system. Some benefits of the FutureEd Interactive System include inclusiveness to all students, increased physical activity in the classroom, and increased attentiveness for students. Due to the life like nature of the FIS system, it may be a downside that students cannot feel the holographic images they are viewing. However, I hope to add touch sensors (similar to touch screen tablets or phones) to allow students to feel different structures (i.e. crevices of the moon).

Do you think that thinking about the future of learning is important? Why or why not?

It is important to recognize and think of ways to improve for the future. We should recognize methods of learning that are beneficial for students, and adjust or re-develop methods that are not as effective.

What are your major takeaways after completing the Imagine FutureEd competition?

After completing the Imagine FutureEd competition, I realized the possibilities of the future of education. Though we have come far with developments and technological advancements, we still have a long way to go.

KnowledgeWorks is hosting a student design competition, Imagine FutureEd.Visit the Imagine FutureEd website to read excerpts from Sierra’s scenario and more reflections from her on the process of thinking about the future of learning.

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ESSA: Bright Spots in Student-Centered Accountability Design

Posts from WOL - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 8:00am

As I shared in my post last week, states are embracing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as an opportunity to advance student-centered concepts in their accountability systems. While complete system transformation is a high bar, a few improvements now can create the momentum for major change down the road. So, where do I see momentum building? Keep reading for a few bright spots that peaked my imagination.

Nebraska: A Compelling Vision for Accountability Design

One of the hardest tasks in accountability design is identifying the core tenants that will drive your system. Nebraska engaged in this process in 2014 after the legislature enacted legislation requiring a new accountability system for public schools and districts. The new system, called AQuESTT (Accountability for a Quality Education System Today and Tomorrow), includes six tenets for student and school success that are strongly aligned to a vision for personalized learning.

  1. Positive partnerships, relationships & student success – This tenant includes engagement with families and communities as key to enhancing educational experiences and focuses on individualized/personalized learning plans for students.
  2. Transitions – This tenant emphasizes supports for students transitioning between grade levels, programs and ultimately college and/or career.
  3. Educational Opportunities and Access – This tenant includes a focus on comprehensive instructional opportunities to be prepared for education and career goals including early childhood education, expanded learning opportunities and blended learning.
  4. College and Career Ready – This tenant emphasizes areas that help every student become ready for college or career opportunities through rigorous standards, technology/digital readiness and support for career awareness and career/college goals.
  5. Assessment – This tenant is based on the belief that multiple types of assessment including national, state and classroom-based, and individualized/adaptive assessments should be used to measure student growth and achievement.
  6. Educator Effectiveness – This tenant is based on the belief that students should be surrounded by effective educators throughout their learning experiences.

Nebraska is still in the process of aligning AQuESTT to ESSA, but plans to include a school quality and student success indicator in its accountability system that measures school and district responses to questions based on these six tenets. Future drafts of the state’s plan will include more detail about the indicator.

Vermont – Communicating a Deeper Picture of School Performance

Vermont has a rich legislative history of advancing personalized learning. This includes legislation to advance personalized learning plans, multiple pathways and perhaps the best diagnostic process I have seen for school improvement. The state continues to build on this legacy in its ESSA plan with a commitment to capturing and communicating comprehensive information on school performance in a simple and actionable way.

To accomplish this, the state will integrate a wide range of data from its own system with reporting requirements for ESSA to create a display that communicates a single, summative rating as well as deep diagnostic information on school performance.  All measures in the accountability system will be linked to a four-label level to describe performance: Off-Target, Near Target, On-Target and Bull’s Eye. For each measure, and for the school as a whole, a scale is generated which describes the degree to which the school is meeting the “target.” An image of an arrow moving toward a bullseye will visually depict a school’s current status and growth status (the difference in performance from year-to-year) as well as progress on an equity index meant to shine a spotlight on the year-to-year change for historically marginalized students. This approach aligns well to the state’s commitment to proficiency-based learning (also known as competency education in some circles) and is meant to support the continuous improvement of all schools.

Louisiana: Elevating Student Interest and Opportunity

During the stakeholder engagement process for ESSA, state officials in Louisiana identified a strong interest in expanding student access to a well-rounded education. Specifically, stakeholders wanted a system that providing learning experiences that align to student interests and career pathways. In response to this feedback, the state is proposing to include an Interests and Opportunities indicator that will determine whether all schools – from elementary through high school – are exposing students to diverse learning experiences that help develop their skills and talents. A work group comprised of superintendents, principals, educators, practitioners and experts will provide 2025 goals for this component and will identify fair ways of measuring access to these student experiences. Louisiana’s Accountability Commission will propose a method for scoring desired outcomes for all schools and the state will provide a plan to USED prior to implementation for review and approval.

Here’s a sampling of how the state is thinking about diverse learning experiences:

  • Elementary and Middle School Levels – Schools should offer every Louisiana student access to quality visual and performing arts, foreign language instruction, technology consistent with current standards, and a variety of co-curricular activities (academic, athletic, and special interest clubs), all of which are supported by research-based evidence.
  • High School Level– Schools should provide students the opportunity to take courses needed to successfully transition to postsecondary studies, including courses for college credit and those that lead to a recognized industry credential. Schools should also offer students a variety of statewide Jump Start training pathways leading to advanced credentials, or an associate’s degree aligned to top-demand occupations.

These are just a few of the ideas that peaked my interest while reading through state plans. While they show promise, it is important to remember that accountability systems do not operate in a vacuum. A high-quality student-centered education system is the sum of all its parts, and accountability is just one piece that must be aligned to a powerful vision for student success.

See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.

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A Paradigm Shift: Making Teaching and Learning Learner-Centered

Posts from WOL - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 8:00am

Bryce Bragdon is passionate about math, science and music. In school, this sixteen-year-old sophomore at Hall-Dale High School in Maine is at the top of his class and on track to finish all of the math courses offered at his school by the end of his junior year, and science up to AP Physics 2. “He credits his achievements to achievements in math and science to his learner-centered school system and believes that learner-centered learning is a good opportunity for most learners,” said Randy Ziegenfuss in a recent episode of the podcast he co-hosts called Shift Your Paradigm.

Lynn Fuini-Hetton and Ziegenfuss interviewed a panel from the Maine RSU2 school district, which included Bragdon, Superintendent Bill Zima and Principal Mark Tinkham. The three share about how RSU2 has transformed to a learner-centered competency-based learning system.

“At RSU2, we’ve always felt that the true power of proficiency-based [or competency-based education] is so you can become learner-centered,” said Zima during the discussion.

Bragdon shared his own experiences within the learner-centered environment, specifically sharing projects that allowed him to pursue his personal passions across class subjects. For examples, in a science class about waves, he studied sound waves to make connections between science class and a personal interest in music.

“When we were in school, it was like a factory; no matter where we were, it was all the same pace,” said Tinkham. For the students in his grade 6-12 school, it’s different.

Within a learner-centered compet4ency-based program, students can accelerate when able, as well as get extra supports when needed. By adapting learning to what makes sense for the individual student, learners are getting more of what they need from the school system instead of fitting themselves into a pre-determined mold.

For students like Bragdon and Emily Levasseur, this learner-centered competency-based model is opening up opportunities and developing student agency.

Listen the RSU2 interview with Bill Zima, Mark Tinkham and Bryce Bragdon on the Shift Your Paradigm podcast to learn more about RSU2’s shift to learner-centered system.

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Five Essential Characteristics of our Future Workforce

Posts from WOL - Mon, 07/31/2017 - 8:00am

“You must constantly reinvent yourself, in order to stay relevant, in order to exist.” – Allen Morrison, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Arizona State University

Our education system is working exactly for what it was designed to do, which was prepare people for industry as it used to exist.Our education system is working exactly for what it was designed to do, which was prepare people for industry as it used to exist. Our industries of yesteryear were stable, structured, controlled.

But today, our industries are experiencing rapid transformation. The rules of the game are changing. Because technology has accelerated the rate of globalization and the accumulation of knowledge, structures and systems are being forced to change. And so are career paths, reward systems, relationships.

And the implications are great. If knowledge is free and it no longer provides a significant competitive advantage, what does that mean for education where the structure and relationships in school are primarily designed around teachers imparting knowledge and students receiving knowledge?

How do we help students to develop the skills to adapt in these changing economies? Our future workforce needs the agility to:

  1. Observe and question
  2. Have curiosity and self-awareness
  3. Collaborate amongst diverse groups and settings
  4. Experiment and fail fast to succeed
  5. Be comfortable with uncertainty and change

We need to shift our mindsets and incorporate the same design thinking to our education system that industries are using to continue to stay relevant.

If we don’t act, our workforce of tomorrow will emerge, and we may not get what we need or want.

Download “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” for an in-depth look at the readiness skills students may need to be successful in the future.

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Getting Students Ready for the Future, When We Don’t Know What the Future Holds

Posts from WOL - Fri, 07/28/2017 - 8:00am

How do we prepare students for jobs that don’t even exist yet? That’s a question that has a lot of people taking a closer look at both our education system and our current definitions of readiness.

In a recent article for edCircuit, KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson shares some trends that are shaping the future of work as well as our definitions of readiness for that work. Those trends include a greater prevalence and sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI), more and more automation of work and a more of the population participating in the gig economy.

These trends are just that – trends – so there are still many unknowns as we plan for the future. “What we do know is that work is changing; what we don’t know is to what extent,” said Swanson.

But there are some things we can do now to prepare the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow. For instance, Swanson suggests that we can start helping students “cultivate deep self-knowledge and meta-cognitive skills.” Helping students develop and apply social-emotional skills will help them both in and out of the classroom.

More research about planning for the future of readiness is available in “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out,” which explores three core skills needed to succeed in the future workforce:

  1. Deep self-knowledge
  2. Emotional regulation
  3. Empathy and perspective taking

Read Swanson’s article in edCircuit, “Preparing For An Uncertain Future Of Work,” to learn more about his research into readiness.

Download “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” for an in-depth look at the readiness skills students may need to be successful in the future.


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#RedefineReady: An Interview with Tom Vander Ark About the Future of Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 07/27/2017 - 8:00am

As part of KnowledgeWorks strategic foresight research, our team interviews education experts for greater insight into the current learning landscape and trends that can point to the future.

The most recent episode of the Getting Smart Podcast is a recording of an interview Katie King did with Tom Vander Ark about his thoughts on the future.

Here are some interesting takeaways:

  1. There is amazing potential in combining competency-based learning with place-based learning. This would not only unlock the opportunity to learn anytime and anywhere, but also ensure those educational experiences aligns with the local school district’s learning outcomes.
  2. Equity needs to be a focus across the board. While the digital divide is becoming less prominent, we still have issues with access. We need to ensure all students are supported into the future of education if we want to close achievement gaps throughout the country.
  3. We aren’t preparing our students for the future we will face. We need to reconsider what high school grads and college grads need to know, as they enter a workforce that will continue to change. They need to be prepared for novelty and complexity. The skills we are developing today won’t help students succeed in the future.

To learn more about what readiness might look like in the future, check out our most recent paper, “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out.”

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Top Six ESSA Trends in Student-Centered Accountability Design

Posts from WOL - Wed, 07/26/2017 - 8:00am

The Every Student Succeeds Act’s (ESSA) gift of broad flexibility for states to design accountability systems that align to their own vision of student success, opened the door to nationwide conversations about student-centered accountability practices. In fact, nearly every state in the nation has taken at least one step to integrate a personalized learning concept into its proposed ESSA accountability system. While these steps are small in some states, and more transformative in others, it’s clear we are moving into an era where the focus of state education systems is the individual success of each student, not just the students most likely to succeed.

So what are the new accountability trends that help advance personalized learning experiences for students? Here’s my list of the top six. For those wondering, these trends made my list mostly for their popularity, but also because we think they show great promise for creating positive incentives for improving teaching and learning.

What accountability trends are helping to advance #personalizedlearning under #ESSA? Here are 6.
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1. Academic Proficiency Indices

Many states appear eager to move away from academic proficiency indicators that shine the greatest light on the students who fall just below or above proficiency (these students were often referred to in policy circles as “the bubble kids”). Instead, an overwhelming number of states are planning to adopt an index approach for the academic proficiency indicator where students receive partial credit for a score on the state assessment below proficiency and extra credit for a score that falls above proficiency. This approach incentivizes support for all students, ensuring they progress to deeper levels of mastery regardless of where they fall on the learning continuum. Check out AR, GA, MD, MS, NH, NY, RI, SC, and SD if you want to know more about what this looks like.

2. Extended-Year Graduation Rates

If ESSA plans are any indication, it seems we are ready to move beyond the conversation about whether our policies should focus on just four-year graduation rates. Of course, a four-year high school experience is ideal, but that expectation unfairly overlooks the needs of many students in our system that may require additional time to graduate. Most states are paying attention to those students as they establish ESSA long-term goals and accountability systems, emphasizing both four-year and extended year rates. This personalized approach sends a message to all students that we won’t give up on you if you are unable to graduate high school in four years.

3. Multiple Pathway Indicators

A personalized education system thrives when students have access to a wide range of learning opportunities that align with their interests, needs, and academic goals. Where No Child Left Behind was narrowly focused on math and English Language Arts, ESSA has given rise to other learning opportunities that prepare students for success in college and beyond. At the elementary and middle school level, some states are creating accountability indicators to emphasize access to a well-rounded curriculum including things such as the fine arts, music, PE, a library specialist, foreign language instruction, technology consistent with certain standards, co-curricular activities, and civics education. At the high school level, we are seeing an increasingly popular college and career readiness indicator that recognizes student access and completion of advanced coursework (including dual enrollment and early college high school programs), career pathway opportunities, and military-readiness. This emphasis on multiple pathways should lead to greater choice and opportunity for students so they remain engaged and on a path to success.

4. Student Voice Surveys

No one can dispute that students need to feel engaged, energized, and safe in order to learn. A handful of states have taken that to heart, proposing an indicator that asks the students directly whether they feel like they are in a safe and supportive learning environment. Surveys can be challenging to administer for accountability decisions, but they have great promise for elevating student voice in the learning process. The states that are looking to incorporate a student survey indicator (IL, IA, NV, NM, and SC so far) are emphasizing student engagement and school climate.

5. Dashboard Models

Those of us who followed the Obama Administration’s regulatory process for ESSA will remember the complicated dialogue about whether accountability systems had to report a single, summative score on school performance or whether they could adopt a dashboard approach to present more comprehensive data. While I empathize with the reasoning for a single, summative score, I believe when done well, there is great potential in building data dashboards that help stakeholders engage in deeper diagnostic conversations about the performance of a school. Some states have expressed their intention to build these dashboards (NY and VT to name a few). I am eager to see what they come up with and hope the field has the opportunity to see how powerful they can be to creating broad ownership and engagement in school reform.

6. Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Indicators

I put this one last because, to be fair, no state – at least as-of-yet – has figured out how to integrate a high-quality and measurable (SEL) indicator into its accountability system. But what surprised me while reading through plans is how many states articulated this as a dominant theme that emerged in their state during the stakeholder engagement process. In fact, a handful of states, (CO and DE to name a few), even went as far as to say they intend to explore these indicators further and remain open to amending their accountability systems in future years. As an advocate of SEL who understands how deeply important it is to the success of our graduates in postsecondary and career, I find this nationwide conversation really encouraging.

I hope you find these trends as interesting and promising as I do. Of course, we have a lot to learn and refine in the implementation process. I just hope states continue to ask questions about how to put students first when they make improvements to their accountability systems.

Stay tuned next week for my post with real state examples from my favorite ESSA accountability plans. There are some great ideas out there to explore further!

See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.

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Social-Emotional Learning: Helping Students Gain Skills That Transcend Industry

Posts from WOL - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 8:00am

Are there job skills that transcend industry? I think there are at least five: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. All five of those attributes are ones I’d want for any new employee I hire, teammate I work alongside, person I volunteer with – regardless of the setting. Those five social-emotional skills provide a strong foundation upon which people can grow specific functional skills and knowledge.

A recent study published in the journal “Child Development” explored the effects of school-based interventions in social-emotional learning (SEL). The outcomes presented in “Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects” are very positive.

Researchers examined 82 school-based interventions effecting 94,406 students from kindergarten to high school. The model of intervention they focused on specifically is called positive youth development (PYD), which is a strength-based model of interventions. The authors found that interventions were “successful in improving young peoples’ self-control, interpersonal skills, problem solving, the quality of their peer and adult relationships, commitment to schooling, and academic achievement.”

Read about five outcomes of social-emotional skill development:

  1. Improving SEL skills also improved students’ competencies in areas like problem solving, relationships skills and self-regulation, all of which correlated in improved academic performance.
  2. SEL was shown to be beneficial across demographic groups, including age, gender, race and socioeconomic status.
  3. The positive effects of school-based SEL interventions continued to demonstrate significant effects for near 4 years following the intervention
  4. SEL interventions help students improve students on positive indicators as well as negative indicators. For examples, they helped students have more positive attitudes about self-worth, school attendance and prosocial behaviors as well as decrease negative indicators. They also helped students be less disposed to drug use, emotional distress and conduct issues.
  5. Because of the positive effect of SEL on social relationships, students who experienced interventions had higher high school graduation rates and college attendance rates as well as fewer negative outcomes like arrests.

What do the outcomes of “Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects” mean for work in the classroom?

This study has a lot of people talking about the potential of SEL in the classroom and the critical need of advancing SEL. At KnowledgeWorks, we’ve been focusing on the applications of SEL as a critical aspect of college and career readiness. In our recently published paper, “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out,” we share research into why our current definitions of readiness have to change.

“By redefining readiness, we will better ensure all students are prepared for a future that is filled with uncertainty,” said KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince.

Central to new definitions of readiness is a focus on core social-emotional skills and foundational cognitive and metacognitive practices. The three core skills the paper outlines as being important for readiness are:

  • Deep self-knowledge: Individuals will need to continue to discover their own personal and professional strengths, weaknesses, passions and emotional patterns.
  • Emotional regulation: Workers will need to be able to recognize their own emotions; understand the triggers that create them; and move to more productive emotional states.
  • Empathy and perspective taking: People will need to be able to recognize others’ emotions and perspectives to help build inclusive, collaborative work environments.

These skills align with the five core skills researched in the “Child Development” study – self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

As more research continues in the field of SEL, what we may be evaluating is more than well-being and success of students, but also well-being and success of our future workforce.

Read “Promoting Positive Youth Development Through School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Interventions: A Meta-Analysis of Follow-Up Effects.”

Download “The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out” to learn more about how social emotional learning is a critical component in an evolving definition of both college- and career-readiness.

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Interview with Marina Hopkins: How Does StrivePartnership Use Data to Help Improve Student Outcomes

Posts from WOL - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 8:00am

In a student’s life, timely and appropriate interventions could be the difference between graduation and dropping out. It could also be the difference between a counselor’s mediation and incarceration. Effective data collection and analysis is vital to the creation, design and implementation of school interventions.

Behind every data point that a school or district collects is a child. When you’re making data-based decisions, what you’re doing is keeping the focus on the child. That can be hard to remember when you’re looking at spreadsheets and run charts or sitting in contentious meetings, but it’s important. Data-based decisions can help create an environment ripe for the success of every learner!

I’ve asked my colleague, Marina Hopkins from StrivePartnership, to speak about how she is impacting student outcomes through a project that seeks to provide a district with added capacity, targeted interventions and data support.

Drake: Thank you Marina for agreeing to chat with me today. I’m eager to learn more about the great work you’re doing with StrivePartnership.

Marina: It’s no problem. I’m glad to highlight the amazing work of our team.

Drake: We’ve traveled a total distance of three office cubical rows for this conversation, so I’m a little embarrassed we haven’t had this discussion much earlier.

Marina: Yeah! That’s right! We’ll I’m glad we waited until we had an audience.

Drake: Well, shall we begin. We can’t keep our audience waiting.

Marina: Please.

Can you first explain your role at StrivePartnership?

As the Senior Manager of Middle and High School Success, I serve as the expert on strategies and outcomes related to learning and education achievement for children age 13 to 18 within our learning ecosystem, which includes Cincinnati, and the cities of Covington and Newport, Kentucky.

In your role, who are you most often working with in these communities you’ve mentioned?

The position regularly interacts with a broad, diverse group of education practitioners, system and community leaders, parents and students to determine how effectively institutions and communities are functioning to achieve goals related to eight-grade math, high school graduation and other critical education outcomes. It’s a broad group of people with a singular focus: student success.

Can you briefly describe your daily work?

In summary, I identify interventions designed to achieve the beforementioned outcomes by strengthening and expanding effective activities within the ecosystem or addressing weaknesses and gaps within it. I take the lead on designing these interventions in collaboration with the StrivePartnership team and work hands-on with stakeholders to execute their implementation. With support from my team, I help monitor the progress of these interventions and negotiate changes with stakeholders as needed to ensure student success.

Can you describe a specific project where you are using data to support student interventions?

One example is our Math Lab. This project is one current intervention designed to help address the number of students who are unprepared to take and pass Algebra 1. The overall goal of the project is to help prepare seventh grade students for Algebra 1 in the eighth grade with the aim of them passing with a C or better.

What indicators are you utilizing as part of the intake process?

Teachers identify the students that are in need of support through the delivery of a pre-test that contains basic math concepts: multiplication, fractions, etc. Based on the pre-test, volunteer tutors take students through a specially designed curriculum, which was actually created by one of our tutors. This curriculum is constructed to accomplish two goals. First, it empowers students to walk through specialized lessons at their own pace with added quizzes to assess competency. Secondly, this curriculum prepares tutors to instruct on Math, which can be a very intimidating subject area.

After students have been identified for program participation, how is the opportunity explained to parents and/or guardians?

A letter is sent home to parents letting them know that their child has been selected to receive extra support. They are asked to sign a parent pledge and the student is asked to do the same. Getting family support from the beginning helps increase parents’ understanding of the program and helps generate added support towards the work.

What types of data are being collected as part of the program, how are you offering data support and why is it important?

We look at how many tutoring sessions students are attending, quarter grades, school attendance and tutor feedback. This is the first year that we are able to track how 8th graders who received tutoring support performed in Algebra 1. We are working with the school to create a Math Data Dashboard that helps everyone see the success of this program. Data is important to StrivePartnership because it informs the kinds of questions that need to be posed; the context of questions and approach to potential solutions. Every school district wants to see their students be successful. Having partners that you can trust to help inform possible strategies based on data support is a win for all. We are in the middle of compiling the data and will provide a report on our learnings from this first cohort of students.

How might the analytics resulting from the data change the program in the future?

The data may direct us to implement this in the 5th and 6th grade and may also lead to the formation of a summer math boot camp for incoming 7th grade students. Qualitative data, such as student feedback on what being math-ready means, will also play a role in shaping the program as it relates to the needs and desires of all learners.

What tips would you share to other embarking on similar projects?

First, start small. I still consider this project a pilot. Starting small helps you gather the data needed for continuous improvement, helps form buy-in for additional work and promotes smarter scaling. Secondly, it’s vital you have a true partnership with the district, principals, teachers and community. A true collaborative relationship works together to improve the outcomes of students and relies on each other to help fill gaps.

Drake: Marina, thank you for taking the time to explain the great work you’re doing within our very own learning ecosystem by providing the necessary supports which help to ensure the success of every learner.

Marina: You are very welcome, I enjoyed our conversation!

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How One Conversation Started a School Transformation

Posts from WOL - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 8:00am

Something unexpected happened on KnowledgeWorks Chief Learning Officer Virgel Hammonds’ first day as a high school principal in 2007 at Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD) in Lindsay, California. When a former student and LUSD graduate came to visit with his father, it wasn’t to reminisce about his time in Hammond’s class or ask for a letter of recommendation.

It was to ask how it was he had come to graduate without knowing how to read.

The moment served as a wake up call for Hammonds, who spearheaded a campaign to transform the district into one that is learner-centered and performance-based, ensuring that only through demonstrating mastery can students advance – and that students like this one, who may have come into the system behind pace, get the supports and resources they need to meet them where they are and realize their potential.

 Personalized Learning Is What Every Student Deserves.Read about Dulce Diaz, a student who experienced LUSD after the transition to personalized learning.


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Decoding ESSA: A Blog Series that Uncovers Promising State Strategies to Enable Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 2:41pm

Across the country, policymakers and communities are working together to develop new, innovative ways to advance personalized learning and rethink college and career readiness, equity and continuous improvement for their schools.

With the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015, Congress gave states greater flexibility to design K-12 education systems that align to their vision for student success. Among the flexibilities provided, states were given numerous opportunities to advance personalized learning as ways to increase equitable outcomes for their students.

Over the last six months, KnowledgeWorks has been reviewing each state’s ESSA draft and submitted plans to create an online interactive map and resource that highlights state strategies for leveraging ESSA flexibility to advance personalized learning policies, models, and practices. Now, our policy team – including Matt Williams, Lillian Pace, Tyler Barnett,  Sarah Jenkins and myself – are ready to bring our insights to you in a blog series that will run through the rest of summer.

The blog series will feature many of the personalized learning trends that we’ve noticed emerging as each state looks to further its own vision and approach to teaching and learning. This10-part series will highlight trends and feature examples from state plans. The posts will focus on the following areas, consistent with the required ESSA plan template:

  • Accountability – How are states designing accountability systems that create diverse learning opportunities for students and emphasize the success of each learner in the state?
  • School Improvement – How are states building school improvement systems that value continuous improvement for all schools through personalized supports, student-centered interventions, and broad community and stakeholder ownership for school reform?
  • Excellent Educators – How are states aligning their pre-service, certification, professional development and evaluation systems to create a seamless system that enables educators and leaders to advance through a continuum of supports that prepare them for success in personalized learning environments?
  • Supporting All Students – What types of initiatives or programs are states creating to ensure students have access to a wide range of rigorous learning experiences that align to their interests and goals and ensure readiness for postsecondary, career, and civic life?

The goal for our series, and for our interactive online resource as a whole, is to elevate states’ leadership in creating high quality education systems that provide innovative and flexible learning opportunities. We hope to help stakeholders identify and better understand the benefits of diverse approaches to personalized learning.

Finally, we aim to help states solve for potential unintended consequences of these ideas by opening the door to robust conversation among stakeholders and states.

Check in weekly for new posts highlighting the promising trends and some of our favorite examples from state plans, or get updates on new posts by following us on Twitter.

See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.See for yourself how states are incorporating personalized learning into their ESSA state plans and what is happening in your state with our interactive map.

The post Decoding ESSA: A Blog Series that Uncovers Promising State Strategies to Enable Personalized Learning appeared first on World of Learning.

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Leading Innovation: Virgel Hammonds a Guest on “Leadership with Latoya”

Posts from WOL - Tue, 07/18/2017 - 8:00am

Virgel Hammonds knows what it takes to lead through times of innovation and change. As former superintendent of RSU2 in Maine, he led the district and community during their transition to competency-based education.

“We have to create a culture that allows for innovation,” he said on a recent podcast, “Leadership with Latoya.” “We’re so busy as leaders that seldom do we give ourselves or our teams the time to think outside the box. … We must pause to think about how we can become more effective, not only for ourselves but for those we serve.”

Virgel visited with Latoya about lessons in leading for innovation. They discussed the key elements that must be present (like culture and transparency), how innovative leaders differ from leaders in general and what innovative leadership might look like in the future.

“Those who are leading for innovation are giving their team the space to fail,” Virgel said. “That’s something that doesn’t come naturally. As human beings, we inherently want to avoid mistakes. We don’t want to fail. Leaders that help create innovative cultures let their teams know that, if we are going to grow, we have to be able to take some risks.”

Check out the podcast to learn more from Virgel and Latoya’s conversation.

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