Supporting Practitioners in McComb

April 23, 2018 by

Image from the McComb website.

This is the eighth post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

How is McComb School District supporting practitioners (teachers) in the transition to a personalized, competency-based system? They are trying out different strategies to figure out what might work best. (more…)

What’s New: What’s Happening in State Policy

April 18, 2018 by

This article reviews some of the new state policy resources and highlights the types of discussion and initiatives taking place in the individual states. Nevada is joining the group of states that are supporting innovative districts, and Mississippi is supporting an innovation network. The most important thing to pay attention to is the discussion and debate in Maine as they decide whether they are going to continue to believe that their students and educators can learn to high standards and will keep learning how to support students in doing so…or if they modify expectations. Fingers crossed that the discussion moves from what’s wrong to what we need to make sure all of our students learn!

State Policy Resources

Across the country, state policymakers have been engaged in thinking through how they can strengthen their policies and infrastructures to better (more…)

Starting the Journey to CBE at Otken Elementary School

April 16, 2018 by

Dr. Cynthia Lamkin, Lead Learner at Otken Elementary

This is the seventh post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

Otken Elementary, serving 500 students in grades 1-3, is in the first year of the the transition to personalized learning. They began the roll-up in 2017 with conversion to personalized learning in first grade followed by second year, next year, and so on.

Dr. Cynthia Lamkin, Principal or Lead Learner, described the early steps to implementation. Otken started by organizing a site visit for their first grade teachers to visit Kennedy Early Childhood Center to learn about student-centered learning and the blended learning rotation model. In amazement, they asked their Kennedy colleagues how they were able to get kindergarteners to all be working on task and to take responsibility even when the teacher was out of the line of vision. The teacher practitioners at Kennedy explained that it wasn’t magic. It started with a series of everyday practices such as creating a shared vision, goal-setting, and target trackers. Kennedy is finding that it takes about eleven days to introduce scholars to the routines of student-centered learning and station rotation. They all affirmed, “There is no excuse that first graders can’t learn to do this.”

Reflections of the Lead Learner

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Starting with the Kindergarteners in McComb

April 9, 2018 by

Felicia Thomas, Lead Learner at Kennedy Early Childhood Center

This is the sixth post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

The next stop in my visit to McComb School District was the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.  We met with Lead Learner (Principal) Felicia Thomas; Dr. Alicia Walker, Site Based Curriculum Coordinator; and Angel McMillian, Literacy Specialist. Kennedy is designed to have all the kindergarteners in McComb introduced to personalized learning. They currently have over 200 kindergarteners as well as fifty younger scholars in preschool. The school day is organized into blocks around the academic domains of social studies, science, literacy, and math. (more…)

Empowering Scholars at McComb’s Summit Elementary

April 2, 2018 by

Lakya Washington, Lead Learner at Summit Elementary School

This is the fifth post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

Lakya Washington, previously assistant principal at Higgins Middle School, is the Lead Learner at Summit Elementary School. In the language of yesteryear, she is the principal. Full of passion, compassion, and a deep commitment to building better lives for her scholars, Washington has led the introduction to personalized learning at Summit. She had never experienced personalized learning before, so her own learning trajectory has been steep. One of the steps that helped was visiting Red Bank Elementary in South Carolina. (more…)

Piloting Change in McComb

March 26, 2018 by

Image from the McComb website.

This is the fourth post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

Roll-Out Strategy

Sometimes enthusiasm for an idea can create unexpected terrain to navigate. For example, several of the McComb board members’ enthusiasm resulted in expectations for immediate roll out to everyone. Why not? If it is good for children, let’s do it now.

Drawing on his experience in previous improvement efforts, Superintendent Cederick Ellis believed that a roll-out strategy was needed. He was hesitant to begin with high school, having seen so many high school reforms come and go without taking hold. He explained, “It was going to create extra pressure if we had to change the mindset of scholars as they entered ninth grade. And as soon as we would help them fully build up the independent learning skills, they leave us – we don’t have opportunity to reap the benefits.” Thus, McComb began with an elementary school roll-out and -up strategy, with the knowledge that high schools would be enrolling a different type of scholar – one who owns their own education.  (more…)

McComb’s Strategic Planning Begins with the Community

March 19, 2018 by

Multiple stakeholders involved in strategic planning. Image from McComb website.

This is the third post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

In 2014, McComb developed a strategic plan that would guide them toward a personalized system. This article has three sections: engaging the community, developing the strategic plan, and highlights of the strategic plan.

Engaging the Community (more…)

McComb’s Six Pillars of Student-Centered Learning

March 16, 2018 by

Stephen Johnson, Data Analyst and Personalized Learning Coach

This is the second post on a series about McComb School District in McComb, Mississippi. Start here.

Superintendent Cederick Ellis didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. As the district began to think about how they could improve schools in McComb School District, they knew they needed to learn from other districts and schools around the country. So they began to read about and talk to other districts.

In 2013, Ellis, the finance director, curriculum director, and other district leadership visited the Education Achievement Authority to understand their personalized approach. (Please note: The EAA no longer exists, but you can find articles about it at CompetencyWorks while it was under the leadership of Dr. John Covington and Dr. Mary Esselman.) Ellis remembered, “It is rare for a finance director to get excited about anything about teaching and learning. It was the children themselves and the conversations she had with them that lit her enthusiasm. She told me, ‘We have to find a way to make this work for our children.’” (more…)

Personalizing the Learning in McComb, Mississippi

March 15, 2018 by

Dr. Cederick Ellis, Superintendent

McComb is a town of about 5,000 households located an hour south of Jackson in the land that was originally cared for by the Choctaw. Getting there was a bit of an adventure, as I flew into New Orleans on the day of a freezing rain that closed all the highways in the region. Thus, I approached McComb through the backroads of Louisiana, which once again reminded me that although the majority of the American people live in urban and suburban areas, the country continues to be deeply rural.

McComb School District came to my attention through the Education Reimagined network. McComb is on a path toward personalized learning (they also use the term student-centered learning synonymously). They have established six pillars of student-centered learning: (more…)

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