Tag: high school

Reflections on Learning Without Boundaries at Kettle Moraine

January 30, 2018 by

Superintendent Patricia DeKlotz

Kettle Moraine Superintendent Patricia DeKlotz had to repeat herself to get me understand, “There is no recipe.” Again, “There is no recipe or one way of doing personalized learning.” Yet I was sure there must be more similarities between the different personalized schools we had visited than I was able to point to. Eventually, as I went through my notes, I eventually did come to the conclusion that there really wasn’t one model. What Kettle Moraine personalized schools share is a very strong set of core beliefs, a highly similar culture, and a few very clear structures.

I’m still in the process of understanding the core structures at Kettle Moraine (there really is only so much you can learn in a one-day site visit). I’ve been able to identify a few described below: (more…)

A Big District Strategy for Implementing Competency-Based Education

January 17, 2018 by

Commitment counts. It seems to make a difference when school boards and district/school leadership make a commitment to the vision of a more equitable education system where all students are successfully prepared for their next step (i.e., advancing based on mastery) before they begin the process of piloting or implementation.

However, that’s not always going to be possible especially for larger districts. It is much more difficult to engage the broader community and build the consensus needed for the commitment in larger communities. There are just too many people to bring together into one room or around one table. Furthermore, we don’t believe that competency-based education can be effectively implemented as a top-down, memo-driven approach. It requires building trust and engaging in dialogue for everyone to clarify values, understand how the traditional system reproduces inequity and low achievement, and understand the implications of research in the day to day operations of schools. (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…)

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…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency-Based Education?

November 8, 2017 by

What's new! star graphicA Must-Read: The Hewlett Foundation Assessment for Learning Work Group released Principles for Assessment Design and Use to Support Student Autonomy.

Thought Leadership

Assessments

  • This article examines the ways in which we assess students’ high school experiences and the impact this has on their eligibility for college.

Recruiting and Supporting Educators

Colorado

  • The Colorado Education Initiative released a new strategy that includes Competency-Based/Personalized Learning, and states that CEI is intensifying their efforts to help districts build systems where students advance based on demonstrated readiness and educators tailor learning for each student’s strengths, needs, and interests.
  • Colorado’s Thompson School District is launching a “Seeing Is Believing” Tour as a type of professional learning where practitioners across 10 secondary schools work across buildings to showcase their classrooms, share success stories, and to unite as a district to do what’s best for students.The Donnell-Kay Foundation embarked on a journey across Colorado schools to examine how schools that have transitioned to a four-day school week are leveraging the fifth day. Here’s an update on their journey and learnings.

Massachusetts

(more…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency-Based Education?

October 18, 2017 by

What's new! star graphicNew Books in Competency Education

Grant Opportunities

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation released three new requests for proposals:

Social Emotional Learning

Equity

Food for Thought

(more…)

Redesigning the Syllabus to Reflect the Learning Journey

October 9, 2017 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

This post originally appeared at EdSurge on September 10, 2017.

Personalized learning is still in its infancy—as are the curricular tools and resources available to support teachers in implementing it.

Currently, there is no shortage of articles offering a high-level look at how and why personalized learning will impact student growth, and conference sessions where teachers are encouraged to change the way they teach, but not given the tools to modify their instructional practices. There are plenty of resources with step-by-step guides and blueprints designed to walk teachers through a process to personalize learning. Additionally, there is a growing number of online platforms and prepackaged curricular products (both free and at cost)—not to mention the new stamp on existing tools—you know, the sticker that says “personalize learning with (insert product name.)”

But, for personalized learning to be personal—it must be less formal and formulaic. We need to design student-centered learning experiences and that takes time, practice and support.

The Syllabus Gets a Facelift

If we think about learning as a journey that gets compartmentalized in formal education, then the first experience for middle and high school students is often the syllabus. In many ways, the traditional syllabus places restrictions on when, what and how students will learn. It sets expectations for how growth will be measured and what penalties will be enforced for late work or missing class. Most syllabi lack flexibility and aren’t very engaging; which contradicts everything we know about high quality teaching and learning.

I currently work at Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas, as the Head of Middle and Upper School and I teach one 8th grade geography class. Back in 2011, I was getting my feet wet with blended learning and experimenting with new pedagogical practices in my geography class. As a result of my recent transition to a blended learning environment and my desire to turn control of learning over to my students, I decided the traditional syllabus needed to be turned on its head.

Redesigning the Syllabus Starting With Student Experience

Conventional syllabi are developed from the perspective of the teacher—designed to present what he or she plans to include in a course. I wanted to develop an alternative version that looked through the lens of the student, and my vision was to tailor each one to reflect what a particular learner would be doing every step of the way throughout the course. This was not simply a more visually appealing version of a classic syllabus, it was a radical overhaul of the student experience with the primary goal of changing their perception of their role as a learner.

This drastic class redesign demanded that I ask myself some big questions: what content was required, what elements of learning could students control and what traditional and new measures I could use to gauge progress? Almost every question led to another. How much control could I give students over their modalities of learning, what would the challenges and successes of self-paced learning be, and if students had more control over how they demonstrated mastery, then what would rubrics look like?

Seven years ago, that first course redesign was a big shift for me. I had been teaching eighth grade geography for four years at that point, and historically, I had used a textbook and pacing chart to cover the curriculum. I used traditional grading practices, assessing student progress through quizzes, tests, project, midterms and finals each year. I was confident that students were learning and their grades supported that. There was little urgency for change—certainly not from my administration or peers. But I had this nagging feeling that my students deserved better. I knew they could make more progress if they had more flexibility to make decisions—but that couldn’t happen within the rigid structure that existed.

The heaviest lift for that first redesign was figuring out how to parcel out the course in a way that would give students more flexibility and choice. Abandoning traditional units and chapters and coming up with new potential segments of learning was a strenuous process. For that first one, I divided my class into three segments: Foundation, Content and Skills, and Assessment. I worked tirelessly to gather old and new resources, align them to each segment, and upload them to a website so that my students could access them at their own pace. (more…)

What’s New in K-12 Competency Education?

September 27, 2017 by

What's new! star graphicSummit Public Schools published The Science of Summit, which describes the research and design choices made in Summit Public Schools. Chris Sturgis considers this a must-read. Someday every school will have a paper on the science of their school that describes the research, beliefs and values that are the foundation of their school design and instruction.

Social Emotional Learning

  • CASEL, the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, is leading an effort to improve measurement of social emotional learning.
  • Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development is releasing its first case study today, Putting It All Together, which discusses showing how schools and school districts across the country are enhancing learning when they teach a curriculum that simultaneously build students’ social, emotional, and academic skills.

Thought Leadership

Personalized Learning

  • In the blog “Let’s Put Personalized Learning in its Proper Place,” Andy Calkins explores personalized learning as part of a larger whole.
  • This article shows how personalized, competency-based education allows for deeper learning and gives students the freedom to follow their passions.
  • Atlanta educators reflect on lessons from their personalized learning initiative.

Grading

  • George Couros wrote an article advocating for a greater focus on mastery over grades, holding the same high standards for all students.
  • Kristy Louden, a teacher, wrote this blog on ways to get students to read and reflect on feedback through delayed grading.
  • A Parents website article says mastery-based learning could become the new standard, and that A-F grading could be eliminated.

Diplomas

  • Tom Vander Ark outlines a proposal for an Innovation Diploma in this Education Week article.
  • Learn about the Mastery Transcript Consortium, which is 54 independent schools that have banned together to rethink the high school transcript and change the college admissions process.

(more…)

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