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How One District Changed the Way They Do Business, to the Betterment of All

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-10-27 13:07

If you could totally overhaul the administrative structure in your school, would you?

When he returned from the two-day convening of educators that led to our most recent publication, Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide, Steve Schultz, Superintendent for the Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Colorado, had to ask himself that question.

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“At the time, w A Strategy Guide, Steve Schultz, Superintendent for the Mesa County Valley School District 51 in Colorado, asked himself, "If you could totally overhaul the administrative structure in your school, would you?"e were actively transforming our district of 21,000 students – 44 schools – to a competency-based model,” says Schultz. “And I’d been thinking about how I might reorganize the district’s organization to be more effective, too.”

Schultz had been reading about Holocracy, and wondered if this method of organizing decision-making around teams rather than traditional hierarchies could benefit his school administration. He and his staff got together to collaboratively identify teams, and discuss how they could adapt their skills to fit into new roles.

“We organized around the work, not the people,” says Schultz, whose new teams focused respectively on school leadership support, family and community connections, technology, human resources, and advocacy and support. “The traditional functions are still there, but instead of a job description, each person has multiple, clearly-defined roles and the autonomy they need to do what they need to do. It completely mirrors what we want kids to do in competency-based education.”

By taking this bold step, Schultz and his staff are now able to be more responsive than ever before, meeting the needs of teachers, students, and community members, while also creating a forum for staff to voice what they really need to do their jobs well.

“Everyone’s communicating,” says Schultz. “Everyone’s in the same room, hearing the same things, and they don’t have to wait for permission to do what needs doing.”

 A Strategy Guide explores five foundational issues facing education and suggests strategies for responding to them, with spotlights on K-12 school-based education, informal and community-based learning, and higher education.Interested in how a flexible approach to administration could benefit your district? Download our latest resource, Shaping the Future of Learning: A Strategy Guide today.

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Q&A with Virgel Hammonds: One path to a career focused on personalizing education

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-10-26 08:00

At KnowledgeWorks, we’re focused on giving more students access to a personalized, competency-based education, which prepares students for college and career by ensuring that they proceed through course material at a pace that is right for them. Leading that work is our Chief Learning Officer, Virgel Hammonds. We sat down with him to learn more about how he developed his competency-education-focused career.

How did you decide to pursue education as a career?

I sort of fell into it. While I was in college, I was running cross country and track, but had to miss a season due to some health-related issues. My head coach at the time asked if I’d be interested in coaching at a local high school to stay involved. At 20 years old, it was my first time coaching and I loved it. I enjoyed helping scholar athletes and the rest of the student body in their studies, and really fell in love with the idea of teaching. It was at that point that I made the commitment to becoming a teacher.

I started my career in a couple private schools, and those were great opportunities for me. The staff was amazing and the families were great and the kids were phenomenal. But the idea to be able to support a population of kids who perhaps needed more support and who had greater challenges; that’s what I realized was my passion. After I moved back home to California, I was committed to finding the right public school where I could be a support. I landed, fortunately, in Lindsay and learned how to support migrant students, much like myself, and provide what they needed to succeed academically and socially.

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

People often ask which position I’m most proud of – Lindsay High School principal, RSU2 superintendent or now my position at KnowledgeWorks – and my response is always the same. I’m proud of the progress all of our kiddos and staff have made throughout my years and positions. Each learning community has established supports to help each learner be successful in the goals they set for themselves. To see all kids are, can or have the opportunity to reach for those goals has been extremely inspiring. And because of that work and those successes, we know we’ve opened the door for all kids to make their dreams a reality.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Aligning all the structures, including higher education, the wider community, the voice of the learner and each individual educator; that has been the biggest challenge. How do we align all of those structures to support the need of every child, every educator, and the desired vision of the community? It’s not an impossible process, but it certainly takes commitment from all stakeholders within the learning community. It takes time and it takes nurturing. When you’re talking about students who are already in the system, every day that goes by is lost time with them. We need to figure out how to align structures but expedite the conversation. And that’s not easy.

Virgel Hammonds has dedicated his career to bringing competency-based education and personalized learning opportunities to students.

What is the difference between personalized learning and competency education?

To me, the greatest way to achieve personalized learning is through competency. It’s possible to do competency without being personalized, and quite frankly that’s exactly what states have been trying to accomplish for decades now. But the reality is, we haven’t been helping kids reach mastery. We’ve been getting as far as we can in the time we have, and then pushing them through graduation.

When people talk about personalized education, we’re talking about empowering kids to excel through competencies in personalized ways that are highly motivating. If we only focus on the competencies and don’t personalize it, then we’re only doing school – school as we’ve known it for the past 50 years.

But, when we combine the two, that’s when we are able to truly engage individual children to reach their goals. To do that, we must use leverage what we know about the art and science of teaching while also establishing the conditions for learners to be the drivers of their own education.

If you could give advice to a school or community leader who is starting personalized, competency education in their school or district, what would it be?

In Lindsay when we embarked on this journey, we had a new educator come on board who hadn’t taught in a competency-based school before. She was all-in, but asked if she could use the first month of the school year to get to know each of the students, to find out what makes them tick, and to learn about their goals, aspirations and struggles – and then set learning outcomes for the year.

Of course, my first reaction was, ‘A month?! We don’t have a month,’ but the message was great. We need to invest the time to get to know each child. We need to learn what they aspire to become, what they struggle with, what their hopes and fears are. When students know and feel you care and want to support them in achieving their goals, then you can really focus on personalizing instruction to ensure each of those kids achieves mastery and meets their goals.

What does the future of education look like to you?

I wish kids, like consumers, could shape their own product. Much like Amazon, once you start purchasing things, they give you recommendations for other products you might like. Imagine if kids were able to become greater consumers of their own learning structures. Imagine if, based on a student’s feedback to a learning opportunity, a learning community was able to provide different experiences for future learning.

In most learning communities, kids are more used to being passengers as opposed to drivers of their own learning experiences. In the future of education, students will be empowered to take charge of their own learning, in and out of the classroom.

For more insight and inspiration from Virgel, follow him on Twitter at @virgelhammonds.

Learn more about KnowledgeWorks’ portfolio of innovative education approaches designed to help schools create environments that allow each student to thrive.

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Students represent the future, so they need to be included in discussions looking forward

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-10-25 08:00

Guest post by Temple Lovelace, PhD, BCBA-D, founder of Youth Leading Change and an Associate Professor of Special Education for Duquesne University.

Students are often asked about the future. Where are you going to college? What do you want to be when you grow up? They are not asked how the choices they make today, even as producers of change, can make a long-lasting impact even at the systems level.

Looking to the future is such an important action for society as a whole. Young people have ideas for how to fix some of the biggest problems we face and matched with their ability to have a no limits approach to how education and their larger world can be better. We just have to ask.

This past Spring, we partnered with KnowledgeWorks for Remake Learning Days. We brought in students from Youth Leading Change and took time to ask them about the future of learning in general, and the future of learning in Pittsburgh, specifically.

As an educator, the concept of focusing on the future of learning is new. My biggest insight in working with KnowledgeWorks is that it is necessary to the process. The classroom is a space of innovation and inquiry, both of which are necessary ingredients for preparing students for the future.

Young people have ideas for how to fix some of the biggest problems we face and matched with their ability to have a no limits approach to how education and their larger world can be better. We just have to ask.Getting students rooted into an orientation that looks at the future, and their place in the future, allows for amazing experiences in the present that begin to slowly transform the very things that we need to change about our humanity. At the root of social justice is the idea that we want to change the future for our most oppressed in society. By turning our student and educational spaces towards the future we can truly change our lives for the better.

As a result of the group work that occurred during Remake Learning Days, the KnowledgeWorks team was able to produce The Future of Learning in the Pittsburgh Region, an adaptation of the Forecast 4.0, The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code that was specific to the Pittsburgh region.

This localized forecast is helpful in understanding what is available for families – and what the future of learning looks like in the Pittsburgh region. As a teacher educator, I believe in the power of community – school – home partnerships that advance learning for all students. The map showcases programs, such as Youth Leading Change, that are at the forefront of learning and show the possibility that is the future of learning.

The map serves as a tool that teacher and families can use to further the learning that happens in school and out of school.

The future of learning is bigger than just learning. It is the future. So much of our educational experience as educators and students is about the past and the present. We are steeped in old traditions in education that do not fit in with a new generation of students. To not focus on the future is a misstep.

Students represent the future and placing them in the driver’s seat for communicating with adults about the future of learning is the right first step for transforming education.

Exploring the future of learning with students:

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

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What I learned about personalized learning from Ms. Roy’s kindergarten class

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-10-24 08:00

What I learned about personalized learning from Ms. Roy’s kindergarten class

This spring, Grace Mills was pretty close to wrapping up her kindergarten year at Henry L. Cottrell Elementary School in Monmouth, Maine when a group from KnowledgeWorks came for a visit. With pigtails and runny noses, Grace and her classmates may appear to be part of a typical kindergarten classroom.  However, how they are learning is unfortunately anything but typical.

We visited Maine to learn more about how students in Grace’s district, Regional School Unit 2 (RSU 2), are experiencing learning.

From kindergarten to 12th grade, the district has implemented a competency-based education approach. This means each student gets a clear set of learning targets and gets the support they need to master each topic before they move on to the next.

As a mom of a boy the same age as Grace, I was especially curious to find out what a personalized learning approach like competency education looks like in kindergarten. Here’s what I learned from Grace and her teacher, Marie Roy.

As early as kindergarten, kids know what need to learn and how to work independently.

“Most of my kids know pretty much where they stand,” said Ms. Roy. “If you ask them what they are working on in literacy they can say, ‘I’m doing syllables right now,’ or ‘I don’t need to do my letters anymore because I know them already.’”

“So me and my friend Quinn are in this group and the ‘Ds’ are in this group,” Grace said as she pointed to different sides of a folder from a literacy station in her classroom. “And those are the papers that we are working on.”

The classroom environment facilitates independent and group learning focused on individual learning goals.

“We do a lot of stations. We do literacy stations and math stations,” Roy explained. “And in that they have a group with me, and those are fluid groups that I move around quite often. They have a target time where they work at their own individual learning targets. And then they have a practice time around the room where they do kind of spiral activities to keep old content fresh.”

“We have choices that we can pick out at target time. We have this really fun game like building your caterpillar. These are words and these are word families…” Grace explained as she dug around for work inside her personal target bucket in the classroom.

“They know exactly what to expect, and where they need to be, and where they need to get their materials from,” said Roy. “So they are able to grab onto it and move through their targets at a pretty independent pace.”

Kids get excited about their learning, move on to the next lesson only when they are ready, and no one feels bad about where they are.

“When I reach my target it makes me really happy,” said Grace.

“It’s just so much fun to see the kiddos get excited about their learning,” continues Roy. “And one kiddo might be excited because they finally learned the letter M, whereas you have another kid who’s excited because they wrote three sentences. And they can be excited at the same time in the same classroom and that’s just so neat to see. Because no one is waiting. But yet nobody also feels bad because they are behind.”

Watch our video to get to know Grace and Ms. Roy’s kindergarten classroom at Henry L. Cottrell Elementary School:

Learn more about KnowledgeWorks’ portfolio of innovative education approaches designed to help schools create environments that allow each student to thrive.

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Youth Leading Change Remake Learning for the Future

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-10-21 08:00

“I want to see a show of hands. How many of you have had a class on history?” I surveyed the room, and every single hand was up as expected. “Now, raise your hand if you have had a class on the future?” Surveying the room again, not a single hand as raised.

It was with these two questions that we began our workshop with Youth Leading Change, a “student-led, teacher powered” group of middle and high school students from some of Pittsburgh’s most marginalized neighborhoods who act as reformers and change agents in areas such as education, environmental justice, incarceration, and drug offenses. The workshop was part of Remake Learning Days, a weeklong celebration of events and activities that showcased how the Pittsburgh region and the Remake Learning Network have been shaping the future of learning.

The purpose for our workshop was to introduce foresight to students and to have them imagine the future of learning.  To do so, we partnered with our colleagues at Teach the Future to develop a set of activities that would introduce the students to a few methods for thinking about the future and support them in creating images of what the future of learning might be like.

The students created this 30’ x 4’ banner containing trends, past and future events, and their ideas about the future of learning.
The students created this 30’ x 4’ banner containing trends, past and future events, and their ideas about the future of learning.

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Shaping our current reality…

The first step of the workshop was to develop a sense of causality. To do this, we asked the students to think about the past by identifying past events and trends that they viewed as having been important in shaping our current reality. The students brainstormed events across three levels:

  • The global level: Includes events at the national and international levels
  • The local level: Includes events at the state, city, and neighborhood levels
  • The personal level: Includes events that have happened to the student, their family, or their friends.

Next, we did a bit of mental time travel, asking the students to pick a cluster of events and trends that they were interested in and to write a short story describing what life might have been like during that time. Below are some of the narratives describing what the past might have been like.

Moving towards the future!

With the past behind us, we began the hard work of thinking about the future. As reflected in answers to my opening questions, for many in the room (adults included) this was to be their first introduction to the world of futures thinking.

To get the students into the mode of thinking ahead, we asked them to think about what events might happen that could shape the future. Using the same levels (global, local, personal) as before, we asked them to brainstorm and record future events as if they were headlines that had happened, as well as to consider the future trajectory of the trends they had previously identified.

Next, we again asked the students to do some mental time travel, this time into the future. In writing short narratives about what the future might be like, they imagined a future where:

  • A student becomes a rock star.
  • School is no longer a requirement.
  • A personal learning robot helps learners get exactly the lessons they need.
  • Meat is no longer eaten due the overharvesting of animals.
  • The human population decreases because air is no longer free.
  • Half the prison population has been released.

Remaking learning for the future

Lastly, we asked students to remake learning based on the images of the future they had imagined. To help them think through what learning might be like as part of the futures they envisioned, we gave them some guiding questions to consider:

  • What type of building, if any, does your school use?
  • Who might go there?
  • What is your school or system of learning preparing students for?
  • Who might work there?
  • How might you tell if a student has learned something?

The students came up with some great ideas for how they would remake learning in the future! Some of them included a community-based classroom, a school that taught life skills as the main curriculum, and a headset that assisted students with learning.

“Don’t waste our time.”

Across their ideas, one major themed emerged: don’t waste our time! Each and every image of the future that the students shared remade learning into something they felt to be more relevant to their interests than school is today and reflected the realities of the changing world. Many emphasized the importance of being able to pursue customized experiences or pathways in preparation for life after high school.

There is a prevailing and unfortunate myth that many poor and marginalized learners need to be taught how to learn and that they are either unable, or do not want, to take ownership of their learning. The images of the future that the students from Youth Leading Change created pose a direct challenge that myth. They don’t need to be taught to learn, nor are they unable to learn, nor do they lack the desire to do so. Rather, they need learning to be remade to meet their needs, interests, and goals. To put it more concisely, they need learning experiences that they feel don’t waste their time.

Exploring the future of learning with students:

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

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ESSA: Uncovering the Many Possibilities for Better Assessment Design

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-10-20 09:00

Since the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) the KnowledgeWorks policy shop has shifted into overtime preparing resources to help education stakeholders make sense of the new law. It’s been exhausting at times, but we keep pushing ahead because we believe this law is full of opportunity to advance personalized learning if states are thoughtful in how they craft their new vision for ESSA implementation.

While there are many things to get excited about in ESSA (click here for our full list), assessment appears to be the big winner. States now have the opportunity to redefine the national conversation about testing. Students no longer have to take meaningless tests that don’t do a good job of determining their knowledge and skills. They can build better assessments that are both relevant and timely.

To help states in this effort, KnowledgeWorks and the Center for Assessment just released a Visioning Toolkit for Better Assessment through our website www.innovativeassessments.org. The goal of this toolkit is to help stakeholders better understand the full range of options under the new ESSA law and to begin translating that into actual assessment designs. It includes an infographic of the assessment opportunities under ESSA, answers to frequently asked questions, enabling state policy conditions, 15 examples of innovative assessment models permissible under the new Demonstration Authority, and a guide to developing a theory of action for innovative assessments.

Where to start? Check out the infographic below to consider the possibilities in next generation assessment design.

 View a visual overview of four critical opportunities available to states under ESSA for building next-generation assessment systems. View a visual overview of four critical opportunities available to states under ESSA for building next-generation assessment systems.

View the Visioning Toolkit for Better Assessments.

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How can school leaders help implement personalized learning? Embrace a continuous improvement mindset.

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-10-18 08:00

Cultivating a continuous improvement mindset among teachers who are implementing personalized learning is essential. But, continuous improvement isn’t just for classroom practitioners. As we learned from the research that informed ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,’ continuous improvement is a skill-set that is important for school leaders as well.

“As the school leader, it’s hard to expect a teacher to implement personalized learning if I’m not aligned with teachers in the building. I need to know 
them as individuals. My teachers work very hard in this setting to do the best they can do for our students. Because of that, I want to know about them personally, what’s going on, how I can help, who’s being given trouble. I don’t want there to be distractions to the work they’re here to do. They don’t have to worry a whole lot about disruptions in the classroom: we handle them. They don’t have to worry about not having resources. They don’t have to worry about not being able to find real world application.”

In a traditional system, the building leader’s role is to hold teachers accountable and intervene when teachers are struggling. In a personalized learning system, a principal’s role shifts to supporting teachers. By monitoring building-wide data closely, building leaders can identify barriers that prevent teachers from implementing personalized learning and enable teachers to overcome these barriers by provided personalized professional development and other tailored supports. By doing this, principals foster a collaborative environment that encourages teachers to work through challenges, using temporary failure as an opportunity to reflect, accept and implement feedback, and make improvements.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. Read our findings.

 

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We’re Going to Mars, and Competency Education is Leading the Way

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-10-17 08:00

When President Obama announced on Tuesday that we will be going to Mars, I was over the moon.

But what struck me most about the op-ed President Obama wrote for CNN was his call to convene “some of America’s leading scientists, engineers, innovators and students… to dream up ways to build on our progress and find the next frontiers.” The emphasis is mine because, how cool is that? Our President must know a little something about personalized learning if he can recognize that student voice not only has a place in determining the course of their learning and their future, but that it can’t be done without them.

He goes on to write more that highlights how critical student investment in their schooling, and the future of space exploration, will be:

“The reporter who covered the moon landing for The New York Times, John Noble Wilford, later wrote that Mars tugs at our imagination ‘with a force mightier than gravity.’ Getting there will take a giant leap. But the first, small steps happen when our students — the Mars generation — walk into their classrooms each day. Scientific discovery doesn’t happen with the flip of a switch; it takes years of testing, patience and a national commitment to education.”

Learning doesn’t haWhen President Obama announced that we will go to Mars, he included scientists, engineers, innovators and students as the brainpower behind the project.ppen with the flip of a switch, either. When students walk into their classrooms, they need to feel a sense of ownership, whether they’re determining classroom policies together or being given the opportunity to connect what they’re learning in meaningful ways to what interests them. They need to know why they’re learning what they’re learning, with clear goals understood by teachers, students, and their parents. They need teachers who have been given the space and resources required to support their unique needs. And students need to do more than take tests: they need to be empowered to make choices about how they demonstrate what they are learning.

Personalized learning, realized through competency-based education, puts students at the center – and ensures that every learner gets what they need to achieve success. We’ll need young professionals with a myriad of skills for that mission to Mars, and with competency-based education, they’ll be ready.

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Planning for the Future in in Pittsburgh: Localizing the Future Forecast 4.0

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-10-14 08:00

Guest post by Sunanna Chand. Sunanna is Learning Innovation Strategist for the Remake Learning Council. The Remake Learning Network is comprised of 250+ organizations collaborating to bring engaging and relevant learning experiences to all kids in the Pittsburgh region. 

We know that our lives are changing more rapidly than ever. Here in Pittsburgh, where once-reliable steel mill jobs ruled the city, we now have self-driving taxis criss-crossing our region. In five years, who knows where we’ll be: Will we even need our own cars? What skills will help program those cars? What’s next?

We talk a lot about “21st century learning” in Pittsburgh. We want kids who are “digital natives” to feel connected to education, both in and out-of-school. But we are in a time of exponential change. Not only are we already nearly a fifth of the way through the 21st century, our civilization is also doubling knowledge every year – a head-spinning pace. If we’re only thinking about the next year, we’re already close to being far behind.

How do we prepare kids for the future, when the only thing we know for certain is that it will be shaped by constant uncertainty?What this means is that the future is more opaque than any time in human history. The challenge we often face is: How do we prepare kids for the future, when the only thing we know for certain is that it will be shaped by constant uncertainty?

We can’t live in that reality and think that education can proceed the way it has been for hundreds of years.

Remake Learning recently collaborated with KnowledgeWorks on the creation of a map exploring the future of learning in the Pittsburgh region. That work is helping us think forward.

Limited predictive ability about the future of learning, work, and life in general can be intimidating. KnowledgeWorks helped us realize, though, how what we are doing now is setting us on the right path.

The Pittsburgh region is fostering learning environments in which kids can build systems that impact their communities. They can choose niche programming tailored to their interests. They can experience, to an increasing degree, the “community as a campus” idea in the region: that no matter where they go, whether schools, museums, libraries, afterschool programs, YMCAs, and more, students can benefit from engaging and relevant learning experiences that prepare them for a rapidly changing world.

Remake Learning, the network of organizations I work to support, brings innovators and educators together to recreate learning experiences that are engaging and relevant, not just to a kid’s interests, but to their culture, context, and the 21st century economy. Within the Network, it’s not uncommon for school districts to work together, for ed tech companies to playtest in museums, or for learning scientists to be embedded in Kindergarten classrooms. It’s all about crossing between organizational walls, with the understanding that innovation and deep, meaningful learning comes from collaboration, both between students and adults.

Remake Learning recently collaborated with KnowledgeWorks on the creation of a map exploring the future of learning in the Pittsburgh region.What we’re doing lines up well with what the KnowledgeWorks Forecast 4.0, “The Future of Learning: Education in the Era of Partners in Code,” outlines.

My biggest insight from the Forecast was about the exponential rate of change. It’s a very natural thing to think linearly about the future. What the Forecast helps you do is intentionally think about rapid change in order to help us as a Network better prepare. It pushes the thinking of even the most forward-thinkers of the Network, giving us the chance to ask more tough and provocative questions of our own programs, projects, innovations, and collaborations.

Reading the Forecast on its own can be scary and overwhelming. Mapping it to our own hyper-local context, though, made us realize that while we still have a long way to go, we are moving in the right direction.

I encourage everyone to read the Forecast and ask tough questions of their own conceptions of learning. What more might be possible that we haven’t even considered yet?

Exploring the future of learning with students:

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

Are you interested in exploring the future of learning in your community? Contact the Strategic Foresight Team at KnowledgeWorks to learn more.

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Meredith Meyer: Learning from a Career the Education Sector

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-10-13 11:50

More than eight years ago, I trotted into KnowledgeWorks confident that I knew something about something, after years spent managing big budgets and initiatives at a major corporation. It took just a few months to understand that trying to change a deeply entrenched social system was a challenge of much different proportions than anything I had encountered in the private sector.

The past decade in U.S. education has been filled with debates over testing, common standards, teachers’ unions and technology. But despite all the innovation and data and systems put in place, learning is still a very human business. And since I claim to be an expert in neither pedagogy nor education policy, I would like to close my time at KnowledgeWorks by making some simple human observations about my experience in the education sector.

Students rise (or fall) to the level of expectations we hold for them.

One of my favorite stories about expectations comes from Ron Berger at Expeditionary Learning, who travels the country with a suitcase full of examples of extraordinary student work produced by “regular” students. In one memorable example, an urban first grader named Austin was asked to draw a scientifically accurate picture of a butterfly. He produced an acceptable rendering of a butterfly – what one might expect from a first grader. But his teacher did not stop there – this teacher and Austin’s first grade peers gave Austin feedback and advice on how to make his drawing more accurate. He produced another, better drawing. They repeated the process several more times. With clear feedback and encouragement, little Austin produced this drawing of a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.

 The story of Austin's Butterfly.Watch the full video that explains the story of Austin’s Butterfly.

Students rise (or fall) to the level of expectations we hold for them.
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Sometimes we put up false barriers for students without even knowing what we are doing, barriers grounded in our own limiting beliefs. Cross this with issues of race and socioeconomics, and even well-meaning individuals can convince themselves that the education and achievement of students in challenging situations is “good enough,” given their circumstances.

While it is easy to spout off ideals about holding high expectations for all students, it is much harder to put the supports in place to ensure that all students actually can succeed. One of the most important concepts I’ve come to understand during my time at KnowledgeWorks is the difference between equity and equality. Equality means that everyone gets the same thing. Equity means that everyone gets what they need to succeed. It is unfair and frustrating to hold students to an expectation that they don’t have the tools to meet. I don’t believe that every student can be a neurosurgeon (I know that I couldn’t be such a thing), but I do believe that every student deserves the opportunity and supports to get on a path to go to medical school if he or she has the capability and willingness to do what it takes to get there.

An incredible example of pushing past these limits to empower underprivileged students are KnowledgeWorks’ early college high schools. These schools enable students, many of whom are first generation college-goers, to complete their first two years of college while they are still in high school. Most students enter these schools several grade-levels behind in Math and Language Arts, but with intense supports and focused, accelerated learning experiences (and a lot of hard work on the part of the students), they begin taking college courses while in high school. Nearly 1/3 of these students graduate high school with an Associates degree and 87% persist to a 4-year college degree. This work is grounded in incredibly high expectations for what students can accomplish, regardless of their zip code.

School success, just like the success of any organization composed of humans, starts with a strong culture.

When people ask me what the most important factor is in developing an effective school, I share my belief that everything starts with a strong culture of learning. When I walk through schools with this sort of culture, I consistently hear teachers and leaders using words like “respect” and “personal ownership” and once I even heard students and teachers referring to their school as “our house.” Students at these schools are very clear about what they are learning, why it’s important and how the culture of their school empowers them to learn.

My first visit to a New Tech Network school, formerly a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks, had a deep impact on me. New Tech schools combine meaningful project-based learning, relevant technology and a culture of strong student ownership. Within New Tech schools, project-based learning happens in teams and teachers team-teach, and this structure necessitates deep interaction with other people. Teachers can’t shut their door and teach in a vacuum and students can’t keep their heads down and withdraw into themselves. Student’s opinions are solicited when the school makes strategic decisions. They are allowed to push back on teachers and report in to the director when teachers aren’t collaborating effectively. These students have agency. I especially love this thought from a former Principal of New Technology High School in Sacramento: “I never hire anyone without kids – they are the client. I like someone coming into the school to see where the values are right away.” This sort of empowered culture creates both opportunities and challenges, but in the end it creates a fierce, supportive culture of learning.

I also have had the opportunity to visit several schools employing a competency-based learning approach, a space in which KnowledgeWorks is investing more deeply. Within this approach, students progress at their own pace based on their individual mastery of the concepts rather than time spent in class. Schools create a common set of clear learning targets and goals and share them with students so students know what they need to do to succeed throughout their K-12 education. There is nothing like having an elementary school student explain a learning target to you and how they plan to achieve it in a creative way that is relevant to them. This structure allows students to “peek behind the curtain” and actually partner with teachers on developing the right learning pathway and assessment strategy for them. This creates ownership of the learning process in a way that contributes to a culture of learning.

We expect things from teachers that we would never expect from a similarly compensated employee in another environment.

Think about it – a teacher must have competencies that would be shared among a team of 3-4 different employees in a business setting: content expert, coach, project leader, facilitator, black belt in continuous improvement, technology expert, data designer, therapist, social worker, community engagement expert. Working as a business or non-profit leader, you might give a big presentation or facilitate an important meeting a few times during a week. For a really big presentation, you might spend weeks preparing for it. A teacher presents and facilitates all day, every day, except for that one-hour planning period during which they must not only prepare to be “on” for the rest of the day, but hone his or her skills as a technology expert, data designer, etc.

Over the past eight years, I have lost all patience for hearing about how teachers get summers off, so much vacation during the year, etc. Most of the teachers I have met don’t even have time to go to the bathroom. And the best teachers are working 60-70 hours/week during the school year to create engaging learning experiences for students and then spending their summers learning new things. And this is on top of the layers of testing and standards that a teacher must navigate. Being a teacher in today’s environment is really, really hard.

It’s time to start thinking about new models for how teaching happens in schools – we will never get and keep the best and brightest people in this profession if we expect them to be martyrs. The way the profession is structured has not kept up with what we know about organizational design and the need for focused expertise. Check out KnowledgeWorks’ thought-provoking white paper that imagines new, focused roles for educators that maintain some context experts, but also include “learning pathway designers” or “micro-credential trackers” and consider how this profession could change in the future.

The world is changing faster than ever before, and without very intentional interventions, underprivileged students will be left behind.

Some of the most fascinating work that KnowledgeWorks has been engaged in over the past decade has been focused on forecasting the future of learning and the forces that will shape education. A consistent theme has been the exponential nature of change in our world over the past fifteen years, due to rapid advances in nanotechnology, information technology and the bio-medical fields. A few years ago, innovations like driverless cars, wearable devices and sensors, and 3D printing would have seemed like science fiction.

In education, these advances are changing the learning experience – for some students. Every day there are more learning resources created that can be accessed with technology and the knowledge of where to find them, students are collaborating with teachers and other students across the country and across the world to get new perspective, students are even taking performance enhancing drugs to help them concentrate better. As the number of resources grows, so does the gap between what students in underprivileged communities can access and what is available to students with more resources.

To narrow these gaps, we must work together in new ways, as the StrivePartnership is doing in Cincinnati and 65+ StriveTogether communities are doing around the country. These partnerships set a new leadership table for education in a community, bringing together leaders from all sectors to set a vision for education, face the reality of local disparities in a data-based way, and take responsibility for changing student outcomes and ensuring that all students are connected to the resources they need, together.

When I joined KnowledgeWorks, I was given a copy of a slim volume with the title Foresight as the Central Ethic of Leadership. Coming from a world of bottom lines and quarterly reports, I found this concept to be a revelation. For leaders, thinking about the future is a moral imperative, maybe even more so for those of us in the social sector. A changing world can marginalize those we are trying to serve – or it can be a transformational opportunity. But only if we are preparing for the change.

“For leaders, thinking about the future is a moral imperative.” – Meredith Meyers
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_______

KnowledgeWorks has four core values: Passion, Courage, Empower, Partner. I always have been struck by this value of courage. It is defined by the willingness to persist in the face of challenges and advocate for what is right. The last eight years have been messy and imperfect, but I have always felt that the people of KnowledgeWorks and those I have had the pleasure of partnering with in the education sector are relentlessly courageous. Courage looks like showing up each morning in our toughest schools and maintaining the belief that all students can learn and achieve. Courage looks like spending years crafting and advocating for policies that create better learning opportunities. Courage looks like calling out issues of equity and highlighting challenges that some would prefer not to face. Although much progress has been made, we still have a long way to go before every student is receiving a rich and meaningful learning experience in our schools. And it will take plenty of courageous humans to make that vision a reality.

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Structural Innovation Can Enable More Personalized Learning

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-10-13 08:00

As we all know, good teachers are critically important to students’ success in school and beyond. But today’s educational structures – ranging from the layout of school buildings to class schedules to limited time for peer-to-peer collaboration – can constrain great educators from supporting all learners as well as we’d all like to see.

As KnowledgeWorks and NCTAF have explored in “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching, Personalized Learning According to Teaching,” teachers working in personalized learning environments are already finding ways to reframe their work in ways that help them tailor instruction to individual learners’ needs and interests. Moving forward, there is the potential to make bigger structural changes that open up even more possibilities for meaningful personalized learning. For example, in “Getting Past the Broken Teachers vs. Tech Debate,” Thomas Arnett of the Christensen Institute highlights the opportunity to draw upon artificial intelligence and other technologies “to enhance the effectiveness of our teachers,” enabling them to focus on providing expert feedback and supportive relationships.

Looking further out, KnowledgeWorks’ exploration of future educator roles has been surfacing the potential for new kinds of educator roles to support students in learning in new ways and across expanded learning ecosystems. For example:

  • Learning pathway designers could help students set learning goals and create personalized learning pathways making use of a wide range of resources.
  • Competency trackers could tag community-based learning opportunities for use on those learning pathways.
  • Social innovation portfolio directors could link student action-learning groups with community organizations seeking creative solutions.
  • Learning naturalists could design and deploy assessment protocols that capture evidence of students’ learning as it unfolds.

As we consider such future possibilities, we need to imagine what high-quality teaching could look like in a wide range of learning environments, not just schools as we know them today. We also need to consider how learners might move across different kinds of learning environments, such as classrooms, museums, libraries, science centers, sports arenas, and workplaces, to develop competency, develop their passions, and contribute to their communities. For inspiration, we can look to current innovations as signals of greater change on the horizon.

Some organizations are exploring network-based structures for facilitating teaching and learning across environments:

  • ReSchool Colorado is experimenting with learner advocate networks that would help learners navigate a rebundled and highly personalized alternative (and ultimately state-funded) system.
  • LRNG is surfacing extended learning opportunities across communities, in some cases linking them to badge- or credit-bearing learning pathways.
  • In coordinating a collaborative system of year-round extended learning opportunities for middle and high school students, Providence After School Alliance has been involving teachers from Providence Public School District in collaborative professional development and instruction with community-based educators.

Some schools are extending teaching capacity by involving people with specific expertise alongside trained educators:

  • AltSchool, a private and highly personalized micro-school, draws upon a community-based Expert Network to supplement the support provided by the educators that they employ.
  • The Hack School pilot uses a split staffing model to involve people from industry alongside teachers, to support its mission of helping future leaders solve the world’s toughest problems.

Other organizations are exploring new options for teacher leadership:

  • The Center for Teaching Quality supported teacherpreneurs in dividing their time between teaching students and developing systems-level solutions for public education.
  • Teach Plus works to keep high-performing teachers in the classroom with high-need students by encouraging teachers in the second stage of their careers to continue teaching while also influencing policy and assuming greater leadership in the form of teacher turnaround teams.
  • The Mind Trust’s Innovation School Fellows program pays education leaders to create and launch school models within the Indianapolis school district, giving them the flexibilities and autonomies of a charter school while enabling them to use district buildings at no cost and providing the same financial support as a district school.

Where do you see innovations that might point the way to new possibilities for meaningful personalized learning, either within district structures or beyond? What current structural barriers would you like to see removed? What new learning structures would you like to see emerge? What educator roles would help people thrive in them?

To explore possibilities for yourself, take a future career quiz on VibrantED, a simulation educator recruitment platform from the year 2025.Your answers to such questions can help create the future of learning. To explore possibilities for yourself, take a future career quiz on VibrantED, a simulation educator recruitment platform from the year 2025.

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A look into the classroom: Competency vs. traditional education

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-10-12 08:00

Every child is different. Each learner has unique strengths, interests, personality traits and interests. The key to competency education is the ability to tailor learning to each student’s strengths, interests and passions.

At KnowledgeWorks, we root our work in the idea that every child is capable of success. We recognize that educators have always tried to do their best to support the needs of every learner. But unfortunately, our current, time-based system hasn’t always given us the flexibility to do that.

Our new video, “Competency Education and Personalized Learning,” explores the differences between competency-based and traditional school models. It also provides greater insight into what personalized learning looks like in the classroom.

This video features students, parents and teachers from Regional School Unit 2 (RSU 2), a district that has been leading the way with competency education. Thanks to the entire district for your continued kindness and insight as we strive to make competency education a reality for students throughout the country.

Here are some examples of how a competency classroom differs from traditional:

  1. In traditional school settings, students can move through grade levels even if they only understand 60 percent of the material.
  2. Personalized learning, particularly competency education, flips the current model on its head to put each student at the center of their education.
  3. Students, parents and educators have a shared understanding of the knowledge and skills each child is expected to learn.
  4. In a competency-based environment, each student has a set of clear learning targets and knows what they need to do to succeed.
  5. Students can make choices for how they demonstrate what they’ve learned.
  6. Competency education builds a school culture that empowers educators to build a culture and vision in the classroom while facilitating learning and preparing students for success.
  7. Through competency education, every student is challenged and every child succeeds.

Watch the video to learn more about competency education.

Contact us to learn more about transitioning to a competency-based approach.

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The Learning Independence Continuum: The Path from Educator-Driven to Learner-Driven

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-10-11 08:00

Guest post by James Murray, the Principal of Waukesha STEM Academy in Waukesha, Wisconsin

Learning environments exist on a Learning Independence Continuum, according to James Rickbaugh, PhD, former Director of the Institute for Personalized Learning.

Learning environments exist on a Learning Independence Continuum, according to James Rickbaugh, PhD, former Director of the Institute for Personalized Learning.Learning Independence Continuum, James Rickabaugh, PhD, Institute for Personalized Learning

Educational leaders are able to refer to and develop their progression into personalized learning by monitoring progress on this continuum. When students have begun to take ownership of their learning and grow their independence as not only a student, but as a citizen, we have achieved a true learner-driven environment.

As students become increasingly more ready for the real world that awaits them beyond the four walls of a classroom, they begin to take more control of their learning and lead their own journey.  This is one of our main goals for students by the time they leave the Waukesha STEM Academy.

In his white paper, “Learning Independence Continuum,” Dr. Rickabaugh describes the importance of the transition from an educator-driven to learner-driven learning environment. There are many steps and stages that students and school-systems embrace and explore as they move along the continuum. Students don’t necessarily travel to the end of the continuum and consider themselves “having arrived.” There is no “right place” to be on the continuum, because each individual student is unique and carries a different readiness-level, as well as being driven by flexible intrinsic and extrinsic-motivation that propels them forward.

Creating a Learner-Driven Environment at Waukesha STEM Academy

In our seventh year of operation at Waukesha STEM Academy, we’re still looking for ways to be more on the learner-driven end of the continuum.

  • Acknowledge Best Practices and Build on Them: A common misconception about traditional education and the “legacy model,” is that it’s old, outdated and irrelevant. This is far from true. Best practices in teaching are best practices because they work. They can and should still be incorporated into today’s innovative educational settings.At Waukesha STEM Academy, we try to use and improve upon these practices but also allow for a gradual release of responsibility by the teacher, school staff and administration. In the process, our students expect more ownership of their own learning, along with voice and choice, as they begin to develop their own best practices for learning.

    Today was a FLEX day. Students design their day based on needs. #personalizedlearning @XQAmerica @edUcation_frwd pic.twitter.com/LnXseZ8tAe

    — @STEM_Saratoga (@STEM_Saratoga) March 19, 2016

  • Give Students the Tools and Supports to Be Self-Reliant: In the learner-driven environment at Waukesha STEM Academy, students have begun to find the tools necessary to be self-reliant, instead of always looking to their teacher. Through this, they have become their own best advocates in acquiring knowledge. No longer do students wait to be spoon-fed information.  They are hungry and craving knowledge, but beyond that, they need to know how to apply what they are learning in context.  Our goal is to not just build masters of content, but to build experts in context.

    “Our goal is to not just build masters of content, but to build experts in context.” @edUcation_frwd
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    With inquiry-based learning, project and problem-based learning, as well as adaptive online platforms, teachers have begun to incorporate much more efficient platforms to provide students with multiple modalities of learning similar skills, while providing rapid feedback cycles. With the presence of tools to aide in proficiency-building, teachers may now act more in the capacity of coaches for mastery and application, to help students learn while doing… not just learning and then doing.
  • Give Teachers the Space to Adapt Instruction and Support as Necessary to Personalize Learning: The gradual release of responsibility by educators at all grade-levels has afforded teachers the ability to let those students who are a bit more independent and have grown along the Learning Independence Continuum, move more at their own pace. We have really worked to avoid looking at students with a “born-on-date,” but rather, acknowledging that students come to use at different places and move at different paces, regardless of their age.  At the same time, educators have the ability to hone in on and support those students who need more one-on-one guidance and direct instruction, while allowing those who are a bit more independent to soar.

    I love my STEM staff! @STEM_Saratoga @edUcation_frwd pic.twitter.com/jdcau7LYvs

    — Rebecca Carlson (@CarlsonRcarlson) August 25, 2016

Share how your applying Dr. Rickabaugh’s Learning Independence Continuum with me on Twitter at @edUcation_frwd or comment on Facebook.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. Read our findings.

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To Get Personalized Learning Right, Work on Your Vision, Culture, and Transparency

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-10-10 08:00

When we first wrote about the district conditions for scaling personalized learning in 2014, we focused heavily on the 10 conditions needed to scale personalized learning across a district. As we conducted the interviews for the research prior to publishing the paper, the meta themes; vision, culture, and transparency; just sort of emerged. Honestly, they were an afterthought. As we’ve continued this line of research and talked to practitioners and policymakers over the last two years, those themes have persisted and we’ve come to see them not as secondary, but as central to the implementation of personalized learning.

As defined in the initial district conditions paper:

  • The vision should be shared with all members of a learning community and give each member a sense of their role within the community.
  • The culture of a district should allow for innovation and continuous improvement by giving leaders, teachers, and students the room to take risks and learn from failure.
  • Transparency allows members of the learning community to be informed about what’s happening and play an active role in creating the desired culture.

For more information about the meta themes, you can download our most recent paper, The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers, to learn how vision, culture, and transparency impact what happens in the classroom.

You’ll notice in the graphic below that the meta themes are at the center of the district conditions. That is because without a clear vision, a culture of innovation, and the transparency to allow innovation to become part of that culture, nothing else matters. In discussions with district and school leaders and teachers all over the country, time and again they point to the meta themes as the key to their success. Simply put, if you don’t get the meta themes right, you’re not going to get personalized learning right.

Meta themes that came out during our interviews with teachers about personalized learning were culture, transparency and vision.See a larger version of this graphic and read our full white paper, “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.”

Don’t want to take my word for it? Attend our webinar on October 11, 2016 to hear practitioners talk about their experiences implementing personalized learning in their districts and the importance of vision, culture, and transparency.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. Read our findings.

 

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Five things teachers need to personalize learning

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-10-07 13:33

Personalized learning has been a hot topic lately for good reason. It’s not only a current trend, but a “very real solution for students and teachers,” according to KnowledgeWorks Senior Manager of Research and Advocacy Sarah Jenkins.

Recently, Sarah stopped by the EduTalk Radio Show along with KnowledgeWorks Director of State Policy Jesse Moyer and Elizabeth Foster, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future.

The trio discussed a recent paper, “The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” and promoted our upcoming webinar. Specifically, the discussion honed in on what educators have said they need to personalize learning in their classroom.

Here are five things teachers need for personalized learning, according to teachers:

  1. A supportive, collaborative culture: A good school culture is crucial. In a successful personalized learning environment, teachers collaborate with each other and are encouraged to lead the shift in the classroom.
  2. A better understanding: “A lot of teachers haven’t been trained to do personalized learning. If we’re expecting these new practices to emerge in their classrooms, then we need to give them professional development that’s personalized to their needs,” Elizabeth said.
  3. Time, time, time: They need collaborative time with peers, time to examine student data to know where their learners are, and time from the beginning to figure out what personalized learning means and looks like to them.
  4. A culture of continuous improvement: They need to know that their colleagues, administrators and district offices are going to support them as they try new things and learn how to implement personalized learning in their classroom.
  5. Meaningful professional development: “When we talk about personalized learning, it’s not just for the students but also for the teachers. We cannot have a system where teachers are sitting in a room and talked at for professional development. It has to be collaborative and personalized,” Sarah said.

Listen to the complete show on EduTalk.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’Read more teacher perspectives on personalized learning in ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’

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Upcoming Webinar | The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers

Posts from WOL - Wed, 2016-10-05 08:00

Next week, KnowledgeWorks is co-hosting a webinar with the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF).  The topic of the webinar will be the jointly released paper, The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers, and feature several panelists who participated in the research for the paper:

Each panelist will discuss the work happening in their schools and districts, including the successes and, to me the most interesting part of the conversation, what they learned from the challenges that come with implementing personalized learning. For practitioners working in a personalized learning environment, this is must see!

As beneficial as this webinar will be for practitioners, they aren’t the only education constituents that will find the webinar valuable. Policymakers will also find the information useful, especially since they are in the midst of making plans to implement the Every Student Succeeds Act. At KnowledgeWorks, we have a strongly held belief that effective policy must be grounded in good practice. I like to call it the Hessian School of education policy. As Rick Hess says, policy is a blunt tool that can make people do things; it can’t make them do things well.  Put another way, if policy isn’t based in good practice, the best-case scenario is that policy will be disconnected from practice. Worse case, it inhibits best practices that could be benefitting the students we serve.

If you’re a policymaker interested in personalized learning, do yourself a favor and take an hour to listen to what these outstanding practitioners have to say about the shifting paradigm of teaching in a personalized learning school.

Register for the conference now!

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Exploring the Future of Learning with Students in Pittsburgh

Posts from WOL - Tue, 2016-10-04 09:00

“Who here has had a class in history?” KnowledgeWorks Director of Strategic Foresight Jason Swanson asked a room full of middle and high schoolers.

All hands shot into the air.

“Who has had a class in the future?”

Questionably, students looked around the room at their peers.

“We’re all going to live in the future, but none of us are going to go back to the past. It becomes really important to think about what comes next and how we can shape the future to be what we want.”

The KnowledgeWorks strategic foresight team spent a rainy spring day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Remake Learning Days, a weeklong, community-wide event to showcase what makes the Pittsburgh region a national leader in teaching and learning. The event was organized by Remake Learning.

During Remake Learning Days, the team facilitated a workshop about the future of learning with Youth Leading Change, a local organization that promotes the action of youth and teachers as reformers and agents of change. The workshop allowed local students to learn about the future by considering the past.

While Jason, KnowledgeWorks Senior Director of Strategic Foresight Katherine Prince, and former KnowledgeWorks fellow Katie King worked with the students, I hovered throughout the room, taking photos to document the day. The workshop encouraged students to think about the past, present day and the future, while placing post-it notes on a wall-size timeline from 1900 to 2025.

Seeing students empowered to think about the good and not-so-good possibilities for the future was amazing. Unlike adults, they don’t have pre-conceived notions or censors about what the future could be in 2025.

I left Pittsburgh with new hope, thanks to these students and their aspirational futures. If they’re shaping our future, it will undoubtedly be bright.

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Key to Successfully Implementing Personalizing Learning? Continuous Improvement.

Posts from WOL - Mon, 2016-10-03 08:00

Systems change is hard. In an education setting, it is multi-layered work that requires people at all levels of the system to work together to achieve the desired vision. Here’s the problem. As with most things that are difficult, success rarely comes on the first attempt. Systems change work involves implementing strategies, collecting data on what worked and didn’t, and using that data to inform decisions about the next round of strategies. In short, systems change requires continuous improvement.

The idea of continuous improvement was a major driver identified by the teachers we interviewed for the research that informed ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’ Because, in most cases, district and school goals are far removed from the realities of the classroom and take a significant amount of time to reach, a shift to a continuous improvement mindset that allows students, teachers and school leaders to take risks and while also making mistakes to learn and improve.

A continuous improvement mindset allows people to take risks, make mistakes, learn and improve.
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As Natalie Matthews from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said:

“In the early stages of implementing personalized learning it was important that I knew it was ok if an idea failed
as long as I was taking steps to move forward in personalizing students’ learning. The administration at my school built a culture in which teachers felt comfortable trying new things without fear of failure.”

This freedom to try new things and learns from mistakes enables all teachers, regardless of the depth of understanding of personalized or their aversion to risk, to adjust their practice and pursue a vision for personalized learning.

 Personalized Learning According to Teachers.’In our research for ‘The Shifting Paradigm of Teaching: Personalized Learning According to Teachers,” we interviewed teachers, instructional coaches and principals from across the country who lead personalized learning implementation in their communities across the country. Read our findings.

 

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ESSA and Opportunities for Communities

Posts from WOL - Fri, 2016-09-30 08:00

There is a lot to work through with the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). How is it different from No Child Left behind (NCLB)? How can we leverage its flexibilities to thoughtfully implement personalized learning? How can states better understand new opportunities with assessment and accountability?

One important piece that’s often left out of ESSA discussion is the role of the community liaison. At the recent 2016 StriveTogether Cradle to Career Convening, Rise Up: Education Excellence for Every Child, Lillian Pace and I worked with community partnerships across the country to discuss just that.

In our session, we reviewed a state’s draft accountability report card and its implications within a community. We discussed how community liaisons can work with parents and community members to make new data easier to understand.  We talked about making sure every community has a voice in the ongoing application of the law.

Read my summary of our session and get guiding questions for how you can work with your community to explore the role of the community liaison with ESSA.

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Congratulations to Kim Cook, a White House Champion of Change

Posts from WOL - Thu, 2016-09-29 14:30

KnowledgeWorks extends hearty congratulations to Kim Cook, Executive Director of the National College Access Network (NCAN), as she is honored by the White House this week for being a “Champion of Change for College Opportunity!” Now more than 500 program members strong, NCAN represents a wide variety of community-based organizations who receive very valuable information, resources, technical assistance and advocacy from Kim and her excellent team. KnowledgeWorks is a long-time supporter of NCAN and proudly shares NCAN’s commitment to high-quality educational opportunity and success for every student.

On a personal level, having served on NCAN’s Board of Directors from 2008-2014, I am extremely proud of the progress made by NCAN under Kim’s leadership and the phenomenal growth of the organization. In the early days of her NCAN career, Kim quickly came to understand and embrace the complex issues facing underrepresented youth, and then combined that with her strong organizational skills to ultimately become the tremendously successful leader of the nation’s largest association of college access programs. In recent years, she has become a leading go-to authority on all issues pertaining to higher education attainment. She is widely respected and admired not only by NCAN members, but by experts and practitioners across the nation.

Congratulations to Kim and her remarkable staff for this very well-deserved recognition!

The post Congratulations to Kim Cook, a White House Champion of Change appeared first on World of Learning.

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