Tag: school design and models

VOICES – Lisa Simms on Leading and Sustaining Innovation

February 1, 2019 by

This is the sixth post in a ten-part series that aims to make concepts, themes, and strategies described in the Moving Toward Mastery: Growing, Developing, and Sustaining Educators for Competency-Based Education report accessible and transferable. Links to the other articles in the series are at the end of this post.

“Competency-based districts and schools are innovative at their core. Educators are at the forefront of innovation, leading the way as they test and share new practices. But, it is a mistake to think about innovators as lone actors or rogue agents of change. Innovators are collaborative practitioners focused on trying, testing and growing new ideas that improve student learning and support school improvement.” – Moving Toward Mastery, p. 48

“Creating a culture of innovation” gets talked about a lot in competency-based education. Almost everyone can agree that implementing dramatic changes in education at all levels requires that everyone, from students to superintendents to state leaders, be willing and able to try, test, and refine new ways of working. What’s sometimes harder to understand is how a “culture of innovation” actually happens. As I listen to teachers and leaders reflect on challenges in their work and as I reflect on my own leadership in the field, here are some questions that come to mind for which there are no easy or clear answers:

How do leaders actually create environments in which people can innovate well? How can leaders balance the need for innovation with the pressures for performance? In what ways does innovation look different (and require different leadership and structures and activities) in early-stage endeavors compared to late-stage ones? What does it look like to sustain innovation over time?

To help answer these questions, I spoke with Lisa Simms. Lisa is a founding design team member and current principal at Denver School of Innovation and Sustainable Design. DSISD opened its doors in fall of 2015, offering competency-based and project-based learning in early college pathways. In this post, Lisa reflects on what it means to lead for innovation in the fourth year of a new competency-based high school: how she supports teachers to innovate and stay the course as they prepare to graduate their founding class. (more…)

The Best Academic Schools in Tennessee Feature the Best Character Program in the Country

December 14, 2018 by

This article originally appeared at Education Week on December 11, 2018. It was posted on Vander Ark on Innovation.

“Teaching has to change. If I never tap into your truth, if I never validate your truth, I’ve failed you as a teacher,” said Valor College Prep HS teacher Matthias McNeal. About the morning meeting, McNeal adds, “Circle is getting to the root of what makes you so special.”

The best academic secondary schools in Tennessee feature the best character development program in the country.

Valor Collegiate Academies has been in the top 5% of Tennessee schools on growth and achievement every year since it started in 2014. But we visited Valor (seven miles south of the Country Music Hall of Fame in suburban southeast Nashville) because of the well regarded Valor Compass, a holistic human development program. (more…)

Competency Education at iNACOL18

October 18, 2018 by

Are you heading to Nashville? Here is a sampling of sessions on competency-based education (and there are definitely a lot of other great ones to choose from!). If you aren’t going, this can give you a sense of how the field is moving along, show you the knowledge that is being developed, and highlight possible people for you to contact along the way if you need a thought partner. I’ve added some links to sessions led by people with experience making the transition in schools and districts – you’ll get even more out of the sessions if you do some pre-reads about their districts. (FYI – some of the great CBE sessions are tagged as personalized learning.)

Where Not to Start When Implementing Personalized Competency-Based Education: Learning from Our Mistakes and Understanding the Steps for Success with Doug Finn, Marzano Research Lab

Sometimes you wish there was a reset button on implementing personalized, competency-based education (PCBE). Implementation of PCBE follows a certain framework, which we will review, but the specific details for each school or district can be extremely unique.

Performance-Based Education in the Last Frontier: Chugach School District’s Journey in Meeting the Needs of All Students with Mike Hanley and Deborah Treece from Chugach School District

The transformation of an educational system from one of the lowest performing in the state, to exceeding state results in spite of the challenges of poverty, transportation, and extreme geographic locations: Chugach School District’s Performance-Based Education Model began in 1994 to support student success. From PK-12 one-building sites, to meeting the needs of homeschool students and families throughout Alaska, Chugach School District’s continuous improvement cycle incorporates the ongoing journey of student ownership and success in life. (more…)

A Decade On: Lindsay Unified’s Personalized Learning Journey

October 17, 2018 by

A young reader at Lindsay Unified’s Kennedy Elementary.

This post originally appeared at Education Week’s Next Gen Learning in Action blog on September 21, 2018. All images are courtesy of Lindsay Unified District. 

When educators tell the story of what galvanized them to embrace next gen learning, they often point to a watershed moment, a realization that so fundamentally shifted their thinking that it divided their career into “before” and “after.” (more…)

Idaho Site Visit: Mastery Education in Idaho

September 19, 2018 by

Summer Reading on Competency-Based Education

July 11, 2018 by

Is it summer yet? It feels like the rate of districts turning to competency-based education is increasing (I just returned from a meeting in Michigan where I learned of at least eight districts advancing toward a competency-based system), and certainly our rate of learning is. Although I actually hope that everyone disconnect for a few weeks during the summer and not think about competency education, I did promise to provide an updated summer reading list. I’ve organized the list into categories: learning sciences; for newbies seeking to understand what competency education is; building commitment; preparing for implementation; and thinking ahead on the issues and challenges in the field of competency-based education. (more…)

Case Study: Lindsay High School Transforms Learning for English Language Learners with Personalized, Competency-Based Education in California

April 26, 2018 by

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

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on February 12, 2018.  It is the ninth blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. Read the first post here.

The following case study represents promising practices in the field using personalized, competency-based learning specifically for ELL students. Each case study in this blog series is considered promising in that they incorporate many of the core principles for next generation learning to support ELL student success. All case studies are examples of programs taking a longer view and a more holistic approach to student outcomes over time – defining the goal as helping students to achieve at high levels over the course of their schooling – in addition to becoming English-proficient. (more…)

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…)

UCLA Project Exc-EL Schools Design Learning Progressions for English Language Learners in Connecticut and New York

April 19, 2018 by

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

This post originally appeared at iNACOL on February 5, 2018.  It is the eighth blog in a series that explores the ideas in the iNACOL report, Next Generation Learning Model for English Language Learners: Promising Practices and Considerations for Teaching and Learning. Read the first post here.

The following case study represents promising practices in the field using personalized, competency- based learning specifically for ELL students. Each case study in this blog series is considered promising in that they incorporate many of the core principles for next generation learning to support ELL student success. All case studies are examples of programs taking a longer view and a more holistic approach to student outcomes over time – defining the goal as helping students to achieve at high levels over the course of their schooling – in addition to becoming English-proficient. (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

(more…)

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