September 18, 2014 by Brian Stack
One of the keys to the early success of our competency education model at Sanborn Regional High School has been the inclusion of a flexible grouping period that is built into our daily bell schedule. For the past four years, our Freshman Learning Community teachers have benefited from having this flexible time to personalize instruction and provide students with support for intervention, extension, and enrichment as needed throughout the school year. Three years ago, we added this flexible time to our Sophomore Learning Community structure. Now as we enter the 2014-2015 school year, this flexible time model has been expanded to include all four grade levels in our high school.
Our flexible grouping period is known as the Focused Learning Period at Sanborn Regional High School, and it operates in a forty-minute time period each day. The Focused Learning Period is time for our students to engage in the following activities:
- Intervention: Small groups of students work with the teacher on content support, remediation, or proactive support.
- Extensions: Whole class groups in which the teacher extends the current curriculum beyond what is able to be completed during a class period.
- Enrichments: Above-and-beyond activities that go outside of the curriculum to expand the experiences of our students.
The Focused Learning Period is not optional at our school. All students are expected to participate. Since the time is built into the school day, all teachers are available to students at the same time. Students are scheduled into a Focused Learning Period with approximately fifteen other students in the same grade level and/or career interest. A teacher is assigned to each group of students as an adviser. (more…)
September 16, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
Jobs for the Future released today The Past and the Promise: Today’s Competency Education Movement by Cecilia Le, Rebecca Wolfe and Adria Steinberg. There are two reasons for you to take the time to read this report:
1) To reflect on how the understanding of competency education is changing; and
2) To understand the research base that contributes to our understanding of competency education.
Defining Competency Education
The paper proposes that older versions of competency had three elements (mastery, pacing and instruction) and advances the idea that the models we are seeing in today’s enhanced version is a personalized competency education model with an additional six elements (competencies, assessment, flexible time, student agency, technology for instruction and monitoring learning, and cultures based on motivating and engaging students).
I also would add that previous models have been all classroom-based. However, here at CompetencyWorks, we are now operating on the assumption that competency education at a minimum requires whole school approaches. Stand-alone classroom doesn’t work for the following reasonis: 1) It’s impossible for a teacher to provide all the supports a student needs in the classroom and you can’t depend on after school or lunchtime as a reliable way for students to get extra help; 2) Once we know where students are on their learning progression it often makes sense for teachers (often working collaboratively) to group and regroup students so they get the help they need; and, 3) Ssome students that are “not yet proficient” may need additional time in terms of summer school or continuing on their learning progression in the next semester. One teacher in a classroom can’t mobilize that type of resource or coherency without a school wide approach. (more…)
September 15, 2014 by Kristen Vogt
Originally posted Sept. 2, 2014 by New Gen Learning Challenges.
Student Trumeia Smith demonstrates Buzz in a Vimeo recording.
Across the nation, teachers have been preparing their classrooms for a new school year, paying attention to their lesson plans, the physical space, and the resources contained within the four walls that students will use throughout the year.
At the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan, an online platform that gives teachers access to curricular planning, resources, and analytics is shifting the way student-centered classes are structured.
Here’s how Kristie Ford, a science and social studies teacher, prepared her curriculum:
“I fully integrated the Buzz platform into my classroom curriculum design. I used the format that was provided in the Buzz courses as an outline to guide my progression and pace for the year. I then added or deleted content in order to fit the needs of my students. My students also had the choice of using outside resources to supplement their learning—textbooks, resource books, peer-to-peer discussion, and small group instruction that matched the content in Buzz.” (more…)
September 11, 2014 by Bill Zima
This is the second post in the series on how to get started in converting your school to competency education. See Part 1, Just Start.
Futurist author Joel Barker said, “Vision without action is merely a dream.” Once upon a time, I had a dream of being an Olympic weightlifter. My name is called. I slowly rise. I adjust my weight belt as I approach the barbell. The red jumpsuit is really uncomfortable in all the wrong places. I squat with my back straight to make sure I use my knees just like my former supervisor told me when we unloaded boxes at the grocery store. I know he would be happy that his obsession with proper lifting had finally sunk in. I make the necessary grunting sound and heave upon the rod that connects the mere 350 pounds. Unlike the Olympic athletes I watched as a child, my barbell does not even budge. Sure I have a grand vision for how to clean and jerk that weight, but a vision is only the first step on a path to the true heavy lifting.So now that you have a great purpose statement for why your school or district exists – something just short of “To make the world a better place” – and you have determined HOW you will work to realize that purpose, it is time to get to the heavy lifting.
To help move the purpose and the vision of the school from the dream state to a reality, we needed action. We created a three-year professional plan, identified what needed to happen the first year, and then created action plans for those items. The primary activities were developing a framework of skills, scoring scales and assessments. (more…)
September 10, 2014 by Justin Ballou
Chris Rock. Photo from Wikimedia.
Growing up, I was always a fan of standup comedy. From the comics of my father’s age, (Billy Crystal, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison….) to those that cut their teeth more recently, (Dane Cook, Chris Rock, etc…) the comedic skills that these players demonstrate is not always natural. It takes countless hours to develop material, back stories, delivery methods, articulation, and other tools of communication that help put the audience right where the comic wants them.
In practice, the content and the strategy develop over time. Mainly, this is due to the fact that they are consistently assessing where the audience presently is and they are adapting their show to get the most engagement. This engagement becomes the fuel for the comic and helps to build the relationship between the showman and the audience that are hopefully hanging on every last drop of the experience. (more…)
September 9, 2014 by Chris Sturgis
From AEE web
The Alliance for Excellent Education is offering three webinars that might be of interest to districts and schools converting to competency education. The first on how to use technology to support students that are “at-risk” (I’m not particularly fond of labeling kids) is Wednesday (as in tomorrow). The second on how to use time more creatively as a resource is on Thursday. The third is also about time and is scheduled for September 23rd. The information on the webinars is below including links to register.
Three Factors for Success in Using Technology to Support At-Risk Students
September 10, 2014
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm EDT
Linda Darling-Hammond, EdD, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University Graduate School of Education; Faculty Director, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE)
Tom Murray, State and District Digital Learning Director,Alliance for Excellent Education
Molly B. Zielezinski, Doctoral Candidate, Learning Sciences and Technology Design, Stanford University Graduate School of Education (more…)
September 8, 2014 by Jonathan Vander Els
This past August I had the opportunity to participate in an incredibly effective model of professional development hosted by our school district. It consisted of workshops and presentations from national, state, and local experts focused on various topics related to assessment, including competency education, building Quality Performance Assessments, and the development of high-quality rubrics.
The varied roles, responsibilities, and experiences of the many presenters added to the uniqueness of our “Assessment Summit.” Participants and presenters included Rose Colby, Competency Education Specialist, Rob Lukasiak, mathematics and assessment specialist, district and building-level administrators, and teachers from grades K-12. This allowed for differentiated PD for the 100-plus participants, while supporting the professional development needs identified in our district related to competencies and Quality Performance Assessments.
Our district, the Sanborn Regional School District in New Hampshire, has continued to push forward in the world of competency education. Despite the bumps we have experienced, we fully realize that this is an educational practice that truly captures each student’s ongoing growth and progression within their learning. Teamed with instruction that is differentiated, personalized and based upon a solid understanding of the Core standards, students are engaged in learning that is focused, are provided with opportunities for support or extension as needed, and understand their role and responsibility in their learning. (more…)
September 4, 2014 by Julia Freeland
Originally posted Sept. 3, 2014 by the Christensen Institute
Last week, FSG Consulting’s Matt Wilka and Jeff Cohen released a case study, “Self-Directed Learning at Summit Public Schools,” as part of a Dell Foundation-sponsored effort to catalogue Summit Public Schools’ model. It’s a good up-to-date look at some of the new efforts afoot in the Bay Area-based charter management organization. The authors do an excellent job showing how shifting from a teacher-driven to a student-directed model impacts students, teachers, parents, and administrators respectively.
Given its overlap with blended, personalized, and competency-based education, I personally am still trying to understand exactly how we should define “self-directed learning” in a manner that will be useful to the field. I worry that deployed irresponsibly, a “self-directed” approach could suffer some of the same pitfalls in terms of equity that online and competency-based education may suffer: that is, students who can take advantage of greater flexibility or ownership can sail ahead, leaving other students in the dust. Luckily Summit Public Schools maintains an unwavering commitment to closing the achievement gap, so if anyone can square self-directed learning and equity, it’s them. With that in mind, here are three of my takeaways from the new case study: (more…)
September 3, 2014 by Justin Ballou
As an educator of the behavioral sciences, the lessons I most enjoy participating in with my students are those that hinge on progress. When we look at behavior, we can identify the indicators of both success and failure as well as identify, explain, and predict how things might have been different. We do this in hopes that the mistakes of the past can be used to circumvent the pain of repeating failure or missteps. After all, humanity is addicted to progress.
At a micro level, a school is the same as society. Each has its own structure, culture, and purpose. Similar to the major historical empires of the sub/counter cultures of American society, the living organism that is education also evolves elastically.
As schools evolve, we need to adapt, shifting perceptions and changing behaviors in order to reap the potential benefits.
Many of these changes can be difficult, as we are treading into an area of less understanding and predictability. Although difficult to do at times, we must get out of our comfort zone if we are to reap the benefits of positive change. (more…)