Practicing What They Preach: Micro-Credentialing at Kettle Moraine

January 15, 2018 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the eighth in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Kettle Moraine School District (KM) is practicing what they preach. If one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for students, why would we think it would work for teacher professional development?

KM is embedding personalized learning throughout their organization. (Reminder: In Wisconsin, personalized learning has three core elements: learner profiles, customized learning plans, and proficiency-based progression.) With the support of the school board, they have organized learning for adults the same way they do for students in the personalized learning campuses. As one of the district team members explained, “Micro-credentials are about embedding design thinking and research into the professional lives of teachers. But it doesn’t stop with just knowing. The important step is implementing it with classroom.”

Here’s how it works: Teachers develop and submit learning plans that indicate the specific skills they want to develop. Educators can choose from micro-credentials offered through the district, select ones available through the partnership with Digital Promise, or suggest ones of their own making, thus ensuring they can meet their various needs. Teachers build the skills, apply them in their classrooms, and then submit artifacts of their learning for approval of their skill. Artifacts might include teacher self-reflection or student work. A panel of their peers reviews the artifacts submitted and award the micro-credential. After receiving a micro-credential, teachers are awarded an increase in their base salary.

Although interest in micro-credentialing is high, the interest in linking it to teacher pay is not. When Wisconsin state legislature passed Act 10 that limited collective bargaining to wages, KM was able to design a strategy to link learning with teachers’ base salary. As teachers earn micro-credentials, it increases their base salary from anywhere between $100 and $600. Patricia DeKlotz, Superintendent, explained, “If districts are going to fully transform schools, we need to make sure everything we do is aligned with our strategic goals. We need to support our teachers in a way that allows them to become familiar with personalized learning and to build the skills to effectively implement personalized learning strategies.” To date, KM may be the only district that has fully linked their micro-credential professional learning strategy to teacher salary.   (more…)

Reaching Out into the Community at High School of Health Sciences

January 8, 2018 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the seventh in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Image from the HS² website

Although the personalized high schools in Kettle Moraine share a number of common features in their culture, structure, and pedagogy, each has a different design and flavor. The nationally recognized High School of Health Sciences (HS²) builds upon strong medical partners Aurora-Summit, ProHealth, and the Medical College of Wisconsin to create rich field experiences, real-world public health problems for students to investigate as well as a variety of career development opportunities. Employees from the medical partners also often act as adjunct teachers bringing their expertise into the seminars. (Check out videos about HS² here.)

The beliefs that are shaping HS²’s model and pedagogy are based on the following:

  •      learning is contextual,
  •      students will be empowered to be architects of their own learning,
  •      students will make connections between learning and their future endeavors,
  •      student accomplishments are a result of both successes and failures,
  •      learning is social, diverse, and collaborative,
  •      authentic experiences help students understand their role in a global society, and
  •      teachers guide, facilitate, inspire, and coach.

The learning design for HS² includes:

  •      Micro-school serving 176 students with 7 full time faculty
  •      Immersive, seminar-based learning
  •      Interdisciplinary
  •      Place-based learning (referred to as outreach)
  •      Personalized individual learning plans

The mission of HS² is: The High School of Health Sciences cultivates authentic and personalized learning in a health care and research context. We inspire curiosity in a wide range of fields, study, and service by engaging problem-solvers in an interdisciplinary spectrum of opportunity. Students will master a course of study that equips them for success in health care, research, and related fields. Even with its small size and limited number of staff, HS² offers a variety of courses in sciences, health sciences, and the other academic domains.  (more…)

Chasing Competencies at KM Perform

January 2, 2018 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the sixth in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Image from the KM Perform website

When Kevin Erickson, now the Director of the KM School of Arts and Performance (or KM Perform for short), and his colleagues started the school six years ago, they wanted to start an arts school. They weren’t thinking about competency-based education. In fact, they hadn’t even heard about it. “We wanted to have interdisciplinary seminars, so we started thinking about organizing them around learning targets or completion targets. These are now what we call competencies,” explained Erickson. He also said, “We started thinking about learning targets as standards and have ended up thinking about them as how we engage students.”

KM Perform, now serving 160 students, is one of three thematic charter schools, each with a different school design, housed on the Kettle Moraine High School campus. KM Perform is organized around the arts with four options for focus areas: art, music, creative writing, and theatre.

The school is organized around the “Big 5” pillars:

  •      Interdisciplinary
  •      Career exploration
  •      Building leadership
  •      Academic excellence
  •      Portfolio

Erickson mentioned that most of the academic domains have embraced these five teaching and learning principles. However, math continues to challenge everyone regarding how to integrate the Big 5 into math seminars and how to integrate math into other seminars.

KM Perform uses a continuum of learning targets to organize learning, not courses. Students participate in three different types of learning experiences that provide opportunity for learning new content, application, and performance.

  • Seminars: Each interdisciplinary seminar runs 4-6 weeks and is used for core academics and the arts. Many seminars end with a performance that is open to the public.
  • Studio Day: Once a week, students have time to work on individual projects and meet with staff, as needed.
  • Workshops: These are short 1-2 week learning experiences on very specific artistic or academic skills. Community members or guest artists are often engaged to work closely with students.

Each of the seminars has a number of learning targets. The accrual of learning targets is how credit is awarded. If students have completed 5 of 11 targets, they have earned a half credit. Complete all 11, and you have a full credit. The demonstration of competencies and and credits is how pace is measured. Erickson emphasized, “No one talks about grades at KM Perform. It’s just about red, yellow, green to indicate progress. Competencies have become the currency.” A student explained, “We focus on what we have learned. Each of us moves on when we complete a competency. On any given day, one student might be finishing a course (a set number of competencies or learning targets) and another student might be starting a new one.” Erickson chuckled when he said, “We’ve created a culture of chasing competencies.” Erickson has created the My Learning Collaborative (myLC) information system to monitor progress in completing learning targets in seminars and credit tracking. Final grades are entered into Infinite Campus. (more…)

KM Global: Pedagogy, Curriculum, and Learning Design

December 18, 2017 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the fifth in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Image from the KM Global website

Once again walking into the large open space with small tables, couches, comfortable seating, and a few small offices and conference rooms, I had a hard time finding the teachers. That’s because they were sitting with a small group of students or talking one-on-one with a student. There was a gentle hum of conversation and, from what I could tell, everyone was on task – except it wasn’t the same task. As I walked around and talked to students, they were all working on their own separate research question. Some told me they had done everything they needed to do today, so were reading a book for English or working on some math problems they were finding really challenging.

As described earlier in this series, KM Global is a charter school, chartered by the Kettle Moraine School District and operating on the campus of the comprehensive Kettle Moraine High School. Similar to the other personalized high school campuses, KM Global is small, with 87 students and six teachers. Of the 19 students who graduated in the spring of 2017, 13 were accepted to four-year colleges.  

Each of the personalized learning high schools have a different theme. The vision of KM Global is: designed for a generation of global learners experiencing education with purposeful interaction and influence. The school provides a unique learning environment equipping students with the tools and experiences to contribute innovative thought and solutions to complex global challenges, and to Know, Be, and Do the work of global leadership. KM Global incorporates a unique curriculum, assessment framework, and delivery model to build a comprehensive learning environment that enables pupils to attain educational goals.

KM Global describes The Know, Be, and Do as a pedagogical framework (See page 3 of Annual Report):

  • Knowing: Attainment of specific learning outcomes guided by rigorous core content standards;
  • Doing: Participation in learning through projects; internships; travel; and other relevant experiences;
  • Being: Development of dispositions that will foster responsibility for personal leadership.

The curriculum is described as four pillars of learning:

Pillar 1: Global Perspective

Pillar 2: Leadership

Pillar 3: Field Experience

Pillar 4: Interconnected Standards Based Learning (more…)

The Sound of Learning at Create House at Kettle Moraine Middle School

December 13, 2017 by

Image from the Kettle Moraine Middle School website

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the fourth in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

I honestly had a huge moment of cognitive dissonance as I walked into Create House at Kettle Moraine Middle School. Superintendent Pat DeKlotz was enthusiastically explaining the model to me, and I just couldn’t understand a thing she was saying because my mind was so busy trying to understand what I was seeing (i.e., working memory overload!). Across a very large open space surrounded by a few smaller rooms, there were students at low tables working as a group, students lying on their stomachs, students at high tables, students on cushy chairs, and a cluster of students sitting on a floor while a teacher provided a quick mini-lesson. Almost every student had a computer open or by their side. And most were using it as a productivity tool in some way or another. In one classroom, students were talking to scientists through Skype. It wasn’t quiet. But it wasn’t loud either. Create House was humming with the sound of learning. (See video on Create House, bottom left corner.)

Create House has been organized as a multi-age school with 75 students and four teachers. Students may be at different grade levels (think performance levels) in different academic domains. Each student is working on where they are in their learning and skill-building process (i.e., on a customized pathway based on meeting students where they are).

Once I was able to tune in again, DeKlotz explained how Create House was designed to strengthen relationships. “Learning is very social and depends on the quality of the relationships between student and teachers. The size of the school is important. The multi-age structure allows these relationships to grow. Our teachers know our students more than a semester or a year. Our teachers really get to know the children and guide them in the journey. This is absolutely critical in helping students build the skills of independent learners,” she said.

A student explained to me how their school worked, “We are always asking the question What do I need to do? I focus in on the learning targets that I’m working on and sometimes the ones that are coming next so that I’m already thinking about how I’m going to learn and demonstrate my learning.” A teacher chimed in, “The targets are important but they don’t have meaning until we are able to make connections. We want students to understand why they need a target, how it might help them in the future, how it will open doors professionally.”

As to the question of what happens if a student doesn’t demonstrate proficiency on a test or in their evidence of learning that they submit? Students explained that they received feedback, would keep practicing or learning while working more closely with the teacher, and would then submit evidence of their learning or take a reassessment. There isn’t credit or a point system awarded for homework. It isn’t graded. Homework is considered practice and formative work so teachers can understand student progress. The actual grading system at Create is what I would call a hybrid, tapping into some aspects of standard-based grading (in which schools commit to helping students learn all the standards) as well as some aspects of traditional grading. Students didn’t seem to care about the grading much. They were much more interested in talking to me about what they were working on. Some were too engaged to give me much time.

One of the things that KM has done is invested heavily in formative assessment. I could hear it in the conversation with students and teachers. The phrases “failing forward,” “learning from my mistakes,” and “not afraid of making mistakes” indicated a culture of learning and an understanding that mistakes open up opportunities to learn. (more…)

The Five Pillars of Teaching and Learning at KM Explore

December 11, 2017 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the third in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Kettle Moraine School District has introduced personalized learning into the elementary school level. Of the four district elementary schools, one is fully personalized and one is beginning to make the transition. We visited KM Explore, a charter school chartered by the district to create innovation space, sharing a campus with Wales Elementary. There are currently 148 students K-5 and 6 teachers.

The KM Explore team made the transition to personalized learning in 2015 after having invested in building their capacity in formative assessment for four years with Shirley Clark. They established a new mission and vision:

  • Mission: The mission of KM Explore is to engage a community of learners through authentic learning experiences by empowering them to be self-motivated thinkers, creators, and collaborators.
  • Vision: The vision of KM Explore is to customize student learning through an integrated learning framework that fosters authentic collaboration, engagement and reflection.

They then organized their approach to personalized learning with five pillars related to teaching and learning:

  1. Generative, Interdisciplinary Curriculum
  2. Multi-age Learning Community
  3. Habits of Mind
  4. Place Based Learning
  5. Collaborative Teaching and Learning

This approach is based on the idea that personalized learning and deeper learning experiences can be fully integrated, with students working at different levels, receiving differentiated support, and building lifelong learning skills.

Generative Interdisciplinary Curriculum

The discussion about generative, interdisciplinary curriculum was fascinating, as it suggested an entirely new way of organizing learning. KM Explore explains generative curriculum as the understanding that students, community and teachers work together to develop or create “in the moment” learning experiences.

  • Encouraging voice and choice in learning topics
  • Learning in a flexible manner, which content areas are interconnected throughout the day
  • Generating an experience that empowers a learner to question, engage and build community based on class initiatives or individual student interests
  • Growing learning pathways organically

Place Based Learning is the belief that learning takes place inside and outside of the “school walls” and that the community and its members are all part of the anytime/ everywhere learning environment.

Redefining learning spaces outside of the classroom walls

Using the community as resources, including students, community experts, and family members sharing their expertise with our learners.

The term generative curriculum was new to me, so Director Laura Dahm offered the popcorn project as an explanation. Earlier in the year students had a site visit to a farm where they had talked about plants, including corn. This site visit had been selected as a way of implementing another of the KM pillars of teaching and learning: place-based learning. From corn, the student interest then jumped to popcorn. So they learned about different kinds of corn and which ones were for popping. They then began to learn about the science of what made corn pop. Next, they created a small business to sell popcorn to high school students. The teachers could never have anticipated that the site visit to the farm was going to end up with a small business selling popcorn. KM Explore is designed to be highly responsive to follow student interest and prompting questions that would lead to multiple sets of knowledge and skills being taught. (more…)

Kettle Moraine: How They Got Here and Where They are Going

December 4, 2017 by

Image from the Kettle Moraine website

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the second in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Please read the first post on Kettle Moraine before continuing to read this post, as it will prepare you to fully take advantage of the ideas and resources shared in this series.

Before they turned to personalized learning, Kettle Moraine School District (KM) was already considered a high performing school district, with 80-90 percent of students going on to post-secondary education and training and numerous recognitions of excellence every year. Superintendent Patricia DeKlotz explained, “How we think of success and high performance is based on what we measure. Eighty percent of our students go on to college, but only 45 percent of those students complete post-secondary. We want to measure ourselves based on things that really count for our students. We know we can do better. We know we can create more relevance for our students and their futures. ”

In fact, some people interpreted the suggestion that there should be change as an indication that there was a problem. DeKlotz explained, “When we first started talking about personalization, some people didn’t understand why. They saw it as we aren’t good enough. But that wasn’t the case at all. We are changing because we can do better, not that we are failing. This is important because trust between a district and the community, between schools and parents, begins with the belief that we are doing the very best for students. It’s important to begin from a position of strength if you can.” Assistant Superintendent Theresa Ewald added, “Many of the traditional measures of success used are those that were set in a time when few attended college, when knowledge was less accessible to all. The context has changed, so must the measures of success.”

There was another driving force: finances. Wisconsin, like other states, hasn’t been keeping up with increases in inflation, and the cost pressures are significant on districts. KM had had revenue limits in place since 1993. DeKlotz described that previous response to the tightening fiscal situation was to try to cut programs and drop things from the budget. Her background in business and familiarity with the Kaizan approach encouraged her to find another way. As did meeting Richard DeLorenzo, one of the architects of the Chugach performance-based model at a MCREL meeting. The dual drivers of costs and excellence catalyzed KM to look for more cost-effective ways of organizing education. Their answer was personalizing education to create more efficiency and to be much more effective for preparing their students for college, careers, and all they might encounter in life.

The shift to personalized learning and the district’s ability to sustain the transformation is based on four major processes:

  • School board adoption of a policy governance model: Working with Superintendent Pat DeKlotz, the school board clarified its role as policy, advocacy, and helping to promote the district. This left DeKlotz and her team to make strategic and operational decisions as they emerged.
  • Strategic visioning: Every three to four years, the district engages 100 members of the community in building a strategic vision. The most recent developed the vision of Learning Without Boundaries and guides the district today. The final product is a paper that is shared widely in the hopes of reaching even more people to engage them in the shared vision.
  • District annual retreat: Every year the school board and leadership council, consisting of twenty-four community members and educators, reflect on data about student achievement, school performance, financials, and student and parent feedback. They set the goals for the next year and develop 100-day action plans. This continuous improvement and public accountability has been instrumental in building trust between the district and community.
  • School annual retreats: Every school uses the same retreat process with a leadership team, reflection on school goals aligned with district goals, action plans, and monitoring implementation of those plans.

DeKlotz emphasized, “These processes have proven to be essential. This is how we hold the change process tight and not have things slip off the plate.” The strategic visioning process was particularly meaningful. As described in the first article about personalized learning in Wisconsin, the Institute for Personalized Learning describes three core elements of personalized learning: learner profile to track student learning; customized learning plans; and proficiency-based progress. KM wanted to make sure their understanding of personalized learning was embedded in their own experiences as a community. Based on the strategic visioning process, KM developed the vision statement Learning Without Boundaries, which captures the spirit of their personalized learning approach. (more…)

Kettle Moraine: Where the Future of Education is Being Created Student by Student

by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the first in a ten-part series on Kettle Moraine. Start the entire series here.

There are many reasons to learn about what Kettle Moraine School District is doing:

  • Personalizing education;
  • Opening up learning by using a learner continuum rather than grade level standards;
  • Multi-age classrooms;
  • Chartering schools to test innovations prior to scaling;
  • Micro-credentials;
  • Place-based learning; and
  • Community outreach and community partnerships.

Similar to Waukesha’s STEM Academy, Kettle Moraine (KM) is using a learner continuum that recognizes where the student is and where they will go. Although the standards might be the same, organizing around the learner rather than the grade level opens up new ways of organizing learning. It’s easier to think about meeting students where they are. It’s easier to allow students to learn above their grade level. It’s easier to think about providing students multiple opportunities for how they learn, as teachers must have resources and assessments prepared for students at different places along the continuum. This is the direction every district should be going.

This series is designed to help you understand the Kettle Moraine (KM) approach and how they are making it work. But don’t get too excited. Kettle Moraine is implementing personalized learning based on a strong culture of learning, a belief that students can learn to be independent learners, and a few powerful structures including a graduate profile and learner continuua. And each personalized learning school has then selected their own themes, their own learning designs, and instructional strategies to emphasize. Thus, you are not going to find an easy recipe for replication. Wherever I could, I’ve added links to KM video and resources so you can go even deeper. I truly encourage you to take the time to read this series slowly.

Get Ready to Read This Series

To get ready to read this series, I also encourage you to do two things and to consider two things. (more…)

Waukesha STEM Academy’s Journey from ABC to the Learner Continuum (Part 4)

November 27, 2017 by

Image from the WSA website

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the fourth in a four-part series on Waukesha STEM Academy. Start the entire series here or read the first part on Waukesha. 

The transition of Waukesha STEM Academy (WSA) to a personalized, proficiency-based system didn’t happen overnight. Principal James Murray and the team at WSA started down this road in 2010, moving through four stages of implementation.

The first stage was moving toward blended learning and incorporating educational software. Murray explained, “The programs provided a lot of data, especially in math. We had to learn how to use it. We had an innovation dip, and the student data plateaued before finally starting to shoot upward. However, we realized there were problems. We were giving students choices. We thought the gamification would be engaging. But we weren’t teaching students the really important skills of how to collaborate, create, and innovate; we were still somewhat stuck in the consumption game and we wanted to transition to the production side of town.” Murray emphasized, “We started to understand that there was a strong and often overlooked nuance between getting something done compared to mastering concepts and owning the ability to contextualize these skills. We realized that students could never get to mastery solely by using adaptive educational software. You simply can’t do it all online. There are definitely powerful supplemental resources for students, but not the core instructional strategy. We never wanted these programs to supplant great instruction and varied modalities and, more importantly, the application of the skills being developed needed to be the keystone of this process.”

So WSA took a big step back. They began to repurpose. Murray explained, “We started thinking about the endgame. We have to put students on a playing field in life. We wanted our students to know how to learn, make progress, demonstrate their learning, and own their education. We needed to think about how we could prepare our students for that.”

In stage two, or STEM 2.0, WSA focused on what it was going to mean to use STEM to help students build higher order skills. They reorganized the campuses so there was now a K-5 and a 6-8 with 850 students enrolled overall. The next step was moving to 1:1 netbooks, expanding the project-based learning to disband projects tied to grade-levels and add in student-proposal projects, and building a platform to support monitoring students. During this stage, they narrowed grading to A-D with the idea that no student should ever be failing a course.

The third stage, referred to as STEM 3.0, introduced standards-based grading (using standards and committing to every student meeting all the standards). Murray pointed out, “We were focusing on proficiency and mastery. We had an adult mental model in which we kept telling students, “You need to do this or that. You need to reach proficiency. Our feedback on behaviors emphasized compliance.” At this point they started understanding that grade-based standards were adult-driven based on what we expected but not where students really were. The standards were transparent but the expectation was that students were all learning the same standards and at the same pace. They also realized that they needed to shift the orientation to learner-driven so they were helping students begin to own their education and their progression.

In the fourth stage, WSA created their own learner continuums that were informed by standards and learning progressions, organized courses to meet students where they were, increased transparency for students about learning expectations and progress, invested in more coaching and reflection in developing personal habits of success, and created the information system to support it all. The vision was finally staring to take shape and people were beginning to really notice the difference in production, engagement, and excitement for learning. This brand new concept of a school had started to grow its sea legs and was now beginning to transform the educational system as we had always known it into a program model that functioned much like a blend of a start-up company and a think-tank, woven into a technical college type-campus.

Use of Technology to Support Students and Teachers

Murray explained, “In order to make the personalized, proficiency-based system really work for students, teachers, and parents, we needed a really good LMS. It needed to operate as a fully-accessible digital file cabinet so that teachers, students, and parents could have access to real-time data and resources.” As every school shifting to competency-based education knows, that’s not so easy to find. “We didn’t just want to build a system and then let it collect dust, as the teachers were the keepers of knowledge. We wanted our most important customers – our students and parents – to be able to access these tools whenever and wherever they pursued their learning. (more…)

Waukesha STEM Academy: Rethinking Space, Time, and Reporting (Part 3)

November 20, 2017 by

This article is part of a series on personalized, proficiency-based education in Wisconsin and the third in a four-part series on Waukesha STEM Academy. Start the entire series here or read the first part on Waukesha.

“Once you get a new iPhone, you can’t go back to a flip phone…it just doesn’t feel right,” remarked Waukesha STEM Academy principal James Murray. We had been discussing the power of creating a transparent learner continuum and the implications for other parts of the instructional and school design.

Use of Time

One change just led to another, and there was no way to stop or back up because the value to students was so apparent. Murray likened it to climbing a tree, branch by branch. “Eventually, you look down and realize how high you have climbed. We were so far beyond the norm that we weren’t going to turn back and climb down that proverbial tree.” For example, in rethinking the learner continuum, Waukesha STEM Academy (WSA) also started rethinking the structure of time and how it impacted learning. Instead of a semester or a school year, they began to think about how they would use the 540 days of learning students had while at STEM and then stretch the learning experience into the summer and vacation months. They are now pushing to see how they might provide a year-round model with more learning during the summer through seminars.

One of the principles they used is Do less so you can do more. They reduced core courses from eight to three per day.  The WSA considers the schedule a framework (scroll down to see this week’s framework), as it is something that guides but can be changed if needed. The first fifteen minutes of the day is spent for a transition to learning spaces. The idea of transition is that students check in with whom they need to, grab the resources they need, finish up any work they need to, and find their way to their learning space. The schedule is then a mix of four core courses each day with times aimed at supporting students and openings in the day, when students are able to work on focus areas respective of their individual and personalized learning goals.

Twice a week, students have FLEX where they go to whatever teacher and course they need extra help or extra time with to complete their projects. Homework Club is available three times a week for extra help after school, with students working in a math lab or literacy lab as needed. Murray noted that 98 percent of the students who need the extra help stay after school. In addition, twice weekly Advisory has formal reflection time for students to think about how they are using the time in the day for their learning, as well as to focus on personal success habits, digital citizenship conversations, ACP lessons, and other types of training and coaching.

CONNECT happens at lunch every day, with students touching base with staff as needed or as requested. This is a very unique approach to lunch, because 100 percent of students are on, all at the same time. No one tells students when they need to eat or where they need to go. In this hour, students choose when they eat and which teachers they will go to connect with. At first, there were conversations about schooling this concept and telling groups of students when they needed to eat and where they needed to go. This quickly fell by the wayside when the mission of this time was looked at closely. “We wanted to help our students build skills in time management and ownership of their day,” Murray adds. “When you do it for them and tell them when they can eat and where they need to sit, and make them raise their hands to throw their trash out or excuse themselves from the table, you have removed the ability and need to develop that sense of growth. Our goal was to build independence, not dependent students who didn’t need to think for themselves.”

When students first join WSA, they are offered a four-week Bootcamp during CONNECT to fully understand the proficiency-based system and the information management systems that support it. Students only exit the Bootcamp when they have demonstrated that they understand the necessary components to be successful at WSA. They learn how to use Google Docs and the information management system For All Rubrics; they are introduced to how the schedule is organized; they become familiar with the learner continuums and rubrics; and they learn how to use FLEX, CONNECT, and Homework Club to best support their learning. Once they demonstrate mastery in these areas, they are released into Gen. Pop. and are “pushed out of the nest,” so to speak, and show that they can be successful. If, after a few days, it is observed that a student still needs some support, they are reeled back in to Bootcamp so they can further develop the skills they need to build up.

Rethinking Space

(more…)

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