Tag: social emotional learning

Competency Education Quality Principle #1: Purpose-Driven

October 19, 2018 by

This is the second article in a series based on the book Quality Principles for Competency-Based Education. You can find the section on Principle #1 Purpose-Driven on page 31. The links to the other articles can be found at the bottom of this page and will be updated as they are posted.

What does it mean to be purpose-driven?

For those who use design thinking, it means clarifying the point from which you backward plan. We have to know where we want to get in order to design the school and learning experiences that will get you there. (more…)

Key Findings: Science of Learning and Development

May 21, 2018 by

Click image to enlarge.

Although the high level findings of the science of learning often seem like common sense, the interplay between the different domains of research isn’t as simple. And we know that the education system is full of practices that are not only misaligned with the science of learning – they may actually be inhibiting and, for some students, even harmful. I’ve read two papers that support Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning recently: (more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 2)

May 10, 2018 by

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

Continuing from the first part of this topic on the implications of the learning sciences for policy, let’s start by looking at three research findings. This is my first cut on this topic and early exploration. In fact I would call these ideas half-baked but I have to start somewhere. It would be a fun collaborative project to draw on lots of great minds. (FYI: I apologize that this is a bit general. To get specific, I’d have to put it in the context of the specifics of policies in a given state.)

Learning is an activity that is carried out by the learner.

(more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 1)

May 9, 2018 by

When a school starts to make the move toward competency-based education, they start to get serious about what the most effective strategies are to help students learn. This of course gets folks thinking about what the learning sciences can tell us about how to engage and motivate students to put their best efforts forward and how to make sure we are optimizing how our wondrous brains work. But are our policymakers at the state and federal levels who want to improve education doing the same thing? Are they digging into what the learning sciences might tell us about effective policy? (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…)

Navigating the Nuances of Personalized Learning (Part 3)

February 7, 2018 by

This is the third article in my reflection on the nuances of competency education. Read posts one and two.

In this third and final reflection on how we can create deeper understanding of competency-based education and personalization, I dig into the different ways the phrase personalized learning is being used. A developmental orientation, in which we seek to explore the different emphases to create deeper understanding rather than a distinguishing one that sees these nuances as differences that confuse the field, is going to help us immeasurably in merging all of these concepts into the next generation learning system. (more…)

An Update on D51: The Teaching & Learning Framework

December 6, 2017 by

When I visited D51 a year ago, they were in the midst of developing a teaching and learning framework. I was inspired by the participatory process and intrigued with the way the framework was being developed to spark dialogue rather than simply check the boxes.

At iNACOL17, I reconnected with Rebecca Midles, Director of Performance-Based Learning, and was thrilled to meet Leigh Grasso, Executive Director of Academic Achievement & Growth. They mentioned they had completed the Teaching & Learning Framework (T&L) and were willing to share it with CompetencyWorks readers.  

The purpose of the T&L Framework is to guide professional dialogue and reflection on how educators engage with students and with each other. If you remember from the D51 strategy, they are using an intentional process to support adult learning and avoid creating any high-stakes situations until teachers have been fully supported in developing their knowledge and skills in the Framework.

The Framework is organized around four interrelated dimensions: Professional Engagement,  Design for Learning, Learner-Centered Environment, and Monitoring Learning. Each dimension has three sub-dimensions with several purpose statements and the powerful guiding questions.

Dimension: Professional Engagement

Click Image to Enlarge

Professional engagement is organized around three roles of educators as learners: as a reflective practitioner, as a member of a learning communities, and as a learning system practitioner. This strikes me as an enormous step away from traditional ways of thinking about professional development and toward the type of professional learning that we hear about in Finland and New Zealand. When we talk about competency-based education, we try to emphasize that it requires establishing a culture, structure, and practices that contribute to a learning organization. This is very, very, very different from an organization based on top-down management and compliance. (more…)

What Do We Do Once We Know Where Students Are?

June 17, 2017 by

This is the fourteenth blog in a series leading up to the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education. We are focusing on four key areas: equity, quality, meeting students where they are, and policy. (Learn more about the Summit here.) We released a series of draft papers in early June to begin addressing these issues. This article is adapted from Meeting Students Where They Are. It is important to remember that all of these ideas can be further developed, revised, or combined – the papers are only a starting point for introducing these key issues and driving discussions at the Summit. We would love to hear your comments on which ideas are strong, which are wrong, and what might be missing.

The only way to truly meet students where they are is for competency-based models to adopt a personalized approach to learning: an approach that accounts for students’ differing zones of proximal development with regards to specific cognitive skills, as well as within the physical, emotional, metacognitive, and other domains. In this section, we offer a prototypical framework designed to help practitioners operationalize a personalized approach in the academic realm.

At first glance, the notion of “meeting students where they are” might seem daunting, as it demands we attend to the unique, ever-evolving needs of each learner, every day. What about the eight year old student who struggles to decode? The new immigrant who didn’t learn to read in her native language? The teenager without an understanding of proportional thinking? What about the student in the same cohort who is ready for more “advanced” tasks or materials? Beyond the complex challenges related to academic skills and knowledge, we cannot ignore the significant range of learner difference in executive function and self-regulation skills,1 such as the ability to sustain focus on a task, rein in impulsive behavior, prioritize activities, or recognize when it’s time to ask for help or course-correct.

For many reasons the field is in the nascent stages of defining, in a concrete and comprehensive way, the distinguishing pedagogical practices of a personalized, approach.

In mature competency-based learning spaces, learners are active co-constructors of knowledge, rather than passive consumers of content. Learning is visibly and authentically connected to meaningful and important outcomes. Inquiry drives the learning process, as it does in the world beyond school. And finally, learning environments and experiences are purposefully designed to nurture the meta-cognitive, behavioral, and motivational attributes of engaged, autonomous, and adaptive learners.2 In short, the architecture of competency-based structures places student agency as the capstone, and every element of the design exists to support it. In this way, a personalized approach is a differentiated or individualized approach, BUT, its deep commitment to student agency is the significant distinguisher: while differentiation and individualization are also approaches to meet student needs, these needs and the strategies to address them are identified by the teacher. A personalized approach places the students in the driver seat.3

Feature 1. Learner-Centered Classrooms Support Multiple Modalities

Learner-centered classrooms start by re-designing learning configurations (spaces, learner modes) and implementing high-impact instructional practices that nurture student learning, engagement, and metacognition. (more…)

How Do We Know Where Students Are?

June 16, 2017 by

This is the thirteenth blog in a series leading up to the National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education. We are focusing on four key areas: equity, quality, meeting students where they are, and policy. (Learn more about the Summit here.) We released a series of draft papers in early June to begin addressing these issues. This article is adapted from Meeting Students Where They Are. It is important to remember that all of these ideas can be further developed, revised, or combined – the papers are only a starting point for introducing these key issues and driving discussions at the Summit. We would love to hear your comments on which ideas are strong, which are wrong, and what might be missing.

In the traditional system, grade-level curriculum is delivered to students based on their age, whereas competency-based systems assume that schools should be organized to meet students where they are in terms of academic, cognitive, and lifelong learning skills (growth mindset, habits of work and learning, metacognition, and social and emotional skills). In this blog, we address how to know where students are, what do we do once we know, and what strategies can help us navigate system constraints.

How Do We Know Where Students Are?

We cannot begin to answer the question, “How do we know where students are?” without first addressing the inherent assumptions that we bring to this very important question. Where students are. In relation to what, exactly? With younger students, we tend to look at gross and fine motor skill development, social-emotional development, and literacy and numeracy development. As students move into late childhood – eight or nine years of age – most systems begin the transition to content exploration, while continuing to support skill development. By the time students are ‘tweens and teens, the system’s priority is content coverage.

Key Assumptions:

    1. Student achievement has historically been defined in terms of student acquisition of broad content knowledge along a time-bound sequence that begins when children are eight or nine. The assumption that content knowledge is an appropriate measure of learning – after core literacy and numeracy is taught in the early grades – or that it is sufficient to prepare learners for the 21st century workforce is problematic for a number of reasons.
    2. A second key assumption is that our age-based approaches are fair and valid. It is promising to see standards emerge – such as Common Core Learning Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the C3 Framework for Social Studies – that prioritize the development of essential disciplinary and transdisciplinary skills and practices. The research basis of the standards provide critical clarity and transparency around the skills required for college readiness. The trick to meeting students where they are is to create learning science-informed pathways that support students in achieving the outcomes associated with the standards. Rather than coupling the standards with specific ages or grades, they would be coupled with learning progressions that provide guidance to students within their zone of proximal development, regardless of their age.
    3. The third key assumption is that teachers (and systems) are the “owners” of learning progressions, and solely responsible for using student performance data to make decisions about a student’s needs or next steps. In other words, it is teachers and administrators who must know where students are and make unilateral decisions about how to move students along. This notion is being challenged by practitioners in exciting ways, such that students are able to see and understand where they are in their own learning pathway, be involved in the planning of their pathway, and take ownership of daily and weekly decisions about their goals and priorities.

In critically examining these key assumptions of the old-paradigm accountability system, new opportunities emerge for designing truly learner-centered systems that identify where students are on their developmental path. In the section that follows, we describe a range of structural, pedagogical, and relational shifts that are essential to identifying where students are in a learner-centered, equity-oriented model. (more…)

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