Category: Resource

How Are We Doing in Personalizing Learning?

June 14, 2018 by

If you have an airplane ride coming up, add A National Landscape Scan of Personalized Learning in K-12 Education in the United States to your reading list. Released by iNACOL in a collaboration with LEAP, CPRE and NORC at the University of Chicago, the report has fascinating insights into which aspects of personalized learning are taking hold and which aspects aren’t. And it provides fodder for reflection.

The power of this report is that it lifts up the experiences of teachers and students in schools that are moving toward personalized approaches. The study is based on a definition of personalization as defined by the LEAP framework, not tech-driven personalization. The findings reveal that schools are stronger in building capacity around learner-focused, in which teachers have developed relationships and processes to know their students, as compared to learner-led and learner-demonstrated.

The discussion on the findings is fascinating and triggered a stream of wonderings:
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Ten Distinguishing Features of Competency-Based Education

June 13, 2018 by

Many of you have told us that we needed a stronger explanation of competency-based education beyond the working definition developed in 2011 to help create a shared understanding. In the paper Levers and Logic Models, we introduce ten distinguishing features of competency-based education from traditional systems based on the incredible insights from the people participating in the Technical Advisory Group on defining competency-based education (you are all recognized in the paper – we are forever grateful for your generosity of time and expertise).

From talking to district and school leaders, I think it is helpful to think about the flaws of the traditional system, which produce variability and reproduce inequity, as well as how the distinguishing features work together to create a system that motivates students and adults and also produces consistency and greater equity.

Please feel free to use the distinguishing features and the icons in your own communities. Just give credit based on Creative Commons attribution. These ten features can be easily converted into a self-assessment tool for you to use to use with your colleagues in your district and schools.

Ten Distinguishing Features of Competency-Based Education

Purpose and Culture

1. Student success outcomes are designed around preparation for college, career and lifelong learning. Traditional systems narrowly prioritize and measure academic skills, often at the lower levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Competency-based systems emphasize ensuring that students can apply academic knowledge and skills to new contexts and become adept problem-solvers and independent learners. Thus, competency-based districts and schools align around academic knowledge, transferable skills and the ability of students to become lifelong learners. Culture, pedagogy, and structures are designed to develop student agency, build foundational academic knowledge and engage students in deeper learning that provide opportunities to engage in real-world problems.

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Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Planning to Hold onto the Learning

June 8, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Learner Centered Practices Blog on June 5, 2018. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

It is easy, almost natural, to see these last few weeks of the year as an end, something that needs to be tied up neatly. In some ways it is. But what would happen if we stopped thinking of the last weeks as the end, and started thinking of it as something else? Instead of closing the books and cleaning out the lockers, what if we found a way to keep the books open, so to speak? I’m not talking about summer work, I’m thinking a little differently here. (more…)

May 2018 CompetencyWorks Catch-Up

June 1, 2018 by

Here are the highlights from May 2018 on CompetencyWorks. Happy reading. And let us know if you have questions you want us to delve into!

CASE STUDIES AND SITE VISITS

Education Reimagined: Creating a Learner-Centered Movement

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The New School Rules

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After reading in the The Culture Code about the strategy for creating high-performing teams by establishing a set of simple rules to guide complex decisions (heuristics), I decided to pick up The New School Rules by Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black of Ed Elements. The six new rules for helping schools to become more responsive are:

  1. Plan for change, not perfection.
  2. Build trust and allow authority to spread.
  3. Define the work before you define the people.
  4. Aim for “safe enough to try” rather than consensus.
  5. Harness the flow and let information go.
  6. Schools grow when people grow.

These rules are for education leaders in the district office and schools, as well as anyone on teams. They are rules that can help shake off the bureaucratic behaviors, what Sal Khan refers to as “habits,” that make up much of the culture in traditional schools. (more…)

Levers and Logic Models: A Framework to Guide Research and Design of High-Quality Competency-Based Education Systems

May 31, 2018 by

Click image to enlarge.

Levers and Logic Models: A Framework to Guide Research and Design of High-Quality Competency-Based Education Systems was released by iNACOL and CompetencyWorks today. We developed the logic model in response to the call from researchers and practitioners at the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education.

Although I’m listed as a co-author, I want to be very clear that this work was led by Katherine Casey with tremendously valuable input from Wendy Surr (AIR) and Eric Toshalis (Students at the Center/Jobs for the Future). Other members of the Logic Model for CBE Technical Advisory Group who contributed to this include: Kim Carter, Jennifer Charlot, Cory Curl, Elena Diaz-Bilello, Theresa Ewald, Pat Fitzsimmons, Laurie Gagnon, Virgel Hammonds, Laura Hilger, Dina Klein, Chris Liang-Vergara, Rebecca Midles, Joy Nolan, Ace Parsi, Susan Patrick, Amelia Peterson, Linda Pittenger, Andresse St. Rose, Sydney Schaef, Samantha Sherwood, and Jonathan Vander Els.

Four things to be aware of when you are ready to read this paper: (more…)

Competency Frameworks

May 22, 2018 by

At one point in my journey of understanding about competency-based education, I questioned whether we really needed competencies. Wasn’t it okay just to have standards? Paul Leather helped me understand the value of competencies by asking What would the system look like if we had a blank slate? Would we really want standards to be the defining way to think about expectations for students? (more…)

Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Yes They Can

May 18, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at the Learner Centered Practices Blog on April 30, 2018. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

Do you remember hearing, perhaps back in your teacher prep program, about the study where a teacher was given a group of Special Ed students but was told that they were Gifted and Talented students, and then the learners performed at the same level as the Gifted and Talented learners would? Well, it is a thing. And it is real. (more…)

The Code of Culture: Establishing Purpose in Competency-Based Schools (Part 3)

May 16, 2018 by

This is the third and final article in an exploration of how to create a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment based on the book The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle. Start the series here.

The implementation strategies used by many of the districts and schools converting to competency education begin with a process of shared inquiry and building a shared purpose. Most leaders will emphasize that it is critically important to fully engage the community in the process of establishing a shared purpose. (See Implementing Competency Education in K-12 Systems: Insights from Local Leaders.) (more…)

The Culture Code: Turning Connection into Cooperation in Competency-Based Schools (Part 2)

May 15, 2018 by

This is the second part of a three-part series on creating a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment that are important principles for equity and quality of competency-based systems. Start the series here.

Once you have created a culture of safety, how does a leader draw on that to create a high performing team?

In exploring the second skill of Sharing Vulnerability, Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code, describes cohesive teams with “moments of fluid, trusting cooperation.” Drawing on examples from Pixar and the Navy Seals, Coyle describes attributes of high performing teams that I don’t think I have ever seen in a district, school, or organization advancing competency-based education. These are teams that have evolved to be able to endure directness and candidness at very high levels. They can tolerate, and actually value, the vulnerability of facing up to and owning mistakes, weaknesses, and poor performance. (more…)

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