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Author: Kristen Vogt

Why Aren’t We Talking about Culturally Responsive Education in Next Gen Learning?

September 13, 2016 by

StudyingThis post originally appeared at Next Generation Learning Challenges on August 4, 2016.

Those of us in the next gen learning space are ignoring a great opportunity. Something that could propel next gen learning to be the force we say we want it to be: one that fundamentally changes the life trajectories of the students we serve.

Culturally Responsive Education

I’ve been thinking a lot about equity in relation to next gen learning lately. I’m asking tough questions of myself, questioning assumptions in our work instead of letting them go unstudied, thinking about ‘user-centered design’ in a whole new light, and sitting with new information as I try to process and understand it.

The news of recent weeks has been heartbreaking. From the highly publicized police shooting deaths of unarmed Black men, to the shooting spree and deaths of police officers, to the White backlash against Black Lives Matter and, in the education reform world, backlash against empowering people of color to address systemic racism in education, the crack in race relations in this country is opening wider and exposing the problems I knew existed but swept under the rug and out of my consciousness.

My response to this heartbreak: lift up the rug, expose the crack, raise my consciousness, and work to understand what it is underserved students really need. (And, by the way, understand what it is advantaged students need. I wonder if educational equity wouldn’t be better served if higher-income White education reformers—and by that I mean, me—focused more attention on serving advantaged students through social justice education and helping them develop the skills of an ally.)

And then I stumbled upon this:

If students survive their educations, they potentially become widgets—unimaginative, obedient, conforming replicas of each other. Students who do not survive their widget-making education risk higher levels of lifetime poverty and incarceration, as well as poorer physical and mental health outcomes than students exposed to more student-centered educational interventions. —Diversity Challenge 2016: Race, Culture, and Educating Our Youths – Developing Whole People Not Widgets.

This! Yes! This is why the current system isn’t good enough. And this is why I am so passionate about next gen learning. I believe it can and will help us move away from the ‘lose-lose’ proposition of a factory model, widget-producing school system. It can help us move toward schools that honor students’ individuality and self-authorship by providing meaningful learning experiences that lead to richer, deeper, broader outcomes than proficiency on a test. (What’s the opposite of a widget? A work of art? Or, maybe we need to drop the metaphors and simply say that a student is an individual whose humanity and dignity is celebrated.)

I kept reading: (more…)

How Next Gen Learning Can Support Student Agency, Part 2

March 1, 2016 by

Students2This post is adapted from the Next Generation Learning Challenges‘ Friday Focus.

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m sharing with you more resources, information, inspiration, and awesomeness that came out of the December #NGLCchat on Student Agency. In this issue, I will tackle the ways that the next gen learning strategies of blended learning, competency-based learning, and project-based learning can support student agency. It’s based on what I learned from the guest experts and chat participants.

(The last Friday Focus synthesized what student agency is and what it looks like.)

Blended Learning & Student Agency

The participants view blended learning as a strategy that leads to student agency when it gives students choices about what, where, when, and how they learn. Blended learning leads to student agency when it…

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How Next Gen Learning Can Support Student Agency, Part 1

February 29, 2016 by

Students1This post is adapted from the Next Generation Learning Challenges‘ Friday Focus.

Happy New Year! As I reflect back on 2015, I find myself thankful for the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by all of you in the NGLC network. Case in point: December’s #NGLCchat on Student Agency. As a parent, I wholeheartedly want my children to be agents of their own lives, growing into adults who are empowered to question the world and confident in their ability to change it for the better. But today, I just want them to put on their shoes so we can get to school on time, to wear sneakers instead of flip flops because it’s cold outside, and to do it in the next three minutes—so I make demands and expect them to do what I say and cross my fingers they don’t question me or throw a tantrum. Ugh! There’s a place for authority, rules, and compliance—I do need to ensure my kids are safe from harm, healthy, and respectful of others. But my real job—nurturing their heart, mind, body, and soul—is hard. That’s why it was so uplifting to learn from educators like you during the chat, educators with the passion and commitment and strength and expertise to recognize the agency within students and enable them to be agents of their own learning today and their own success tomorrow.

The hour-long chat was chock-full of expert thinking, advice, resources, and inspiration. For today’s edition of Friday Focus, I tried to pull it together, make meaning, and organize the wealth of insight provided by all the participants during the first segment: “Define what student agency means. What does it look like?” In an upcoming Friday Focus, I’ll dive into the next segments when participants explored how blended learning, competency-based learning, and project-based learning can support student agency.

Why Student Agency Is So Important

Why are we talking about Student Agency? Because agency underpins the whole broader, deeper range of MyWays competencies needed for student success. And today’s students NEED the skills to be lifelong learners:

Harvard professor Roland Barth has observed that in the 1950s when young people left high school they typically knew about 75% of what they would need to know to be successful in life. Today, he predicts that young people know about 2% of what they will need to know. (Barth, R.S. (1997, March 5). The leader as learner. Education Week, 16(23). 56.) This shift is not because young people are learning less than previous generations. In fact, there is good evidence that they know much more. The force behind this change is the rapid and ever-increasing pace of change, the complexity of the world in which we live and the unpredictability of what people will need to know in the coming decades – the future for which we are preparing today’s learners.

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NGLC Schools Take On Competency-Based Learning

April 7, 2015 by
kristen vogt

Kristen Vogt

This post originally appeared at Next Generation Learning Challenges on March 20, 2015.

Over the winter, I worked with NGLC’s newest grantees to create profiles of their school models. As I worked with them to identify key features of their academic models, I got to see how different elements of their innovative approach to learning intersect and work together. I’m particularly intrigued by how these schools use competency-based learning to help students succeed.

As described in the Personalized Learning School Design Attributesin a competency-based learning model, “student learning is continually assessed against clearly defined expectations and goals. Each student advances as s/he demonstrates mastery.”

This is VERY different from learning in a traditional school model, where all students in a class start the next lesson once instruction in a particular lesson ends. Students’ grades reflect the level of mastery they were able to achieve within the specific period of time allotted to the lesson. If there are gaps in a students’ understanding or skill at the end of the lesson, those gaps remain.

Competency-based learning, on the other hand, acknowledges that all students should reach the same level of mastery—no gaps. Some students will take longer than others to get there. This shift impacts classroom instruction, assessment strategies, and nearly every other assumption behind the traditional approach to school.

Let’s look at competency-based learning in a few schools to understand how it works. Although the schools incorporate it in unique ways, they all utilize at least some of these tactics: (more…)

How EAA’s Personalized Learning Platform Works

September 15, 2014 by

Originally posted Sept. 2, 2014 by New Gen Learning Challenges.

Trumeia Smith

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…)

A Personalized Learning Approach to Professional Development at Education Achievement Authority

September 2, 2014 by
kristen vogt

Kristen Vogt

The Education Achievement Authority of Michigan calls the academic model employed at their schools “student-centered learning.” Perhaps their professional development for teachers—the subject of the latest Next Gen Tools brief—could be categorized as “teacher-centered professional learning.”

EAA joins the growing list of school districts and charter organizations that are reimagining professional learning for educators, as my colleague Stef Blouin blogged about last week—she was drawing on the personalized, self-directed, ongoing, collaborative, and embedded professional development at Matchbook Learning, Intrinsic Schools, Alpha Public Schools, and Horry County Schools. USC Hybrid High’s Oliver Sicat offered his perspective of personalized professional development in his recent blog at BlendMyLearning.com. (more…)

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