Chicago International Charter School (CICS) Prairie, managed by Distinctive Schools (DS), is part of the pioneering LEAP Innovations Pilot Network for Cohort 4. We began our eighteen month journey in Winter 2017 with the second and fourth grade English and Language Arts team: Mr. Brian Hall, Ms. Virginia Kelly, Ms. Keona Roberts, & Ms. Jessica Story. The Pilot Network brings together leaders and teachers from the Chicago area to, “design, implement and evaluate personalized learning practices and edtech tools in their classrooms.”
After analyzing data, looking at our current status, and learning more about the LEAP Personalized Learning (PL) framework of Learner Led, Learner Focused, and Learner Demonstrated alongside our Distinctive Schools PL Framework, we were able to identify and create a target for 2nd and 4th grade.
The Data: LEAP Personalized Learning Student Report
The desire to increase intrinsic motivation and measure growth was evident in the Fall 2016 LEAP Student Reports: The LEAP Personalized Learning Surveys are designed to measure the teaching practices and classroom conditions that enable personalized learning. In this report, you’ll need results for your school compared to results for geographically similar schools and all schools that participated in the survey.
The survey aligns to the LEAP Learning Framework. Scores have been created for three key components of the framework—Learner Focused, Learner Demonstrated, and Learner Led—as well as subscores for elements within each of these broad components. Additional survey items ask about flexible learning environments, access to technology and information, and out of school learning.
The LEAP Personalized Learning Teacher and Student Surveys are developed by LEAP Innovations® to measure personalized learning in classrooms across the country and offered at no cost to schools and districts.
Of the three components, the data shows, on the LEAP PL Framework, Learner Led is an area of improvement. With our work in Frontier, and around our PL goals, we hope to increase this score with the year end Student Report survey.
The Data: NWEA MAP Reading
Aligned with our DS vision, our Cohort 4 created a vision: Students are intrinsically motivated, use voice and choice, learner led experiences, know the why, and feel set up for success.
What is Frontier?
As a team we selected Frontier as our edtech product to start for implementation in the fall of the following school year. Frontier is a learning platform that allows for students to read and write using informational texts and videos around an essential question. The Frontier phases of the process are discover, explore, create, draft, revise, and publish.
Teachers are able to monitor student progress through the data dashboard which provides weekly email updates as well as real-time updates on student status. This informs teacher feedback and who to conference with based on what teacher action is needed: Check in, Give Feedback, or High Five. Ms. Roberts uses Mondays to conference with 2nd grade students using this Frontier data. This five-minute conference allows for reflection, guidance, and goal setting for the rest of the week.
Students are also able to give feedback to their peers on their drafts before publishing. Here is an example of feedback from Gina to her peer: You could get more examples and more evidence. And you could really use periods.
Once students are given feedback by teacher and peers they are able to publish their work. They can choose to share it with just their teacher or with the rest of the Frontier world!
What do the students have to say?
Here some student interviews from CICS Prairie, Gina 4th grade and David and Evelyn 2nd grade, who share the process and their excitement around using Frontier as a learning tool.
What is Frontier?
David: First I go into the next little Frontier thing. If there is a video I watch it if there is a article I read it. I go to the little box and write about it. Once I’m in here I look and see which is good for me to do first I did easy to hard and then harder.
Gina: We go on a few minutes, we get on half of the time. You get to do lessons and when you are done you can write about it
What’s a challenge of Frontier?
Gina: Typing isn’t really that hard if you just check it.
How do you choose what you want to discover?
Evelyn: I picked What is life like in the White House? I picked that one because I want to be a president when I grow up.
David: What is the best sport at the Summer Olympics? I picked this project because when I grow up I want to be a gymnast and first I want to know about it.
What are your feelings about Frontier as a learning tool?
David: I like Frontier because it helps me learn things I want to do when I grow up!
Gina: I rate this 5 out of 5 stars, I got to be able to write a story of my own and tried my best with all my work and I checked it.
Through innovation cycles, coaching and ongoing professional development partnered with LEAP the past 10 months, we are leaping through projects and understanding their needs, strengths, interests, and approaches to learning.
We are eager to analyze our NWEA Reading data and Thinking Maps: Write from the Beginning and Beyond data in Winter 2018 to inform our implementation. As well as Spring data in these ELA areas as well as the LEAP Student Report results.
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Last month, Distinctive Schools attended EdSurge Fusion 2017. EdSurge Fusion included unique tracks centered on Vision, Research, Implementation, and Evidence. The tracks included presentations by education thought leaders, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, as well as leaders from schools and districts across the nation. Some notable speakers included Jim Shelton, President, Chan Zuckerberg Education; Tom Vander Ark, CEO, Getting Smart; and Betsy Corcoran, CEO and Cofounder, EdSurge.
During the conference, speakers addressed the path ahead. For instance, today’s kindergarteners will be entering the workforce in 2035 and, according to the World Economic Forum, 65 percent of children entering elementary school today will end up working in new jobs that don’t yet exist. As a result, today’s kindergartners will need to be prepared for future career requirements - Which addressed the big question, are our current classrooms preparing our kids for this reality?
Here are three key takeaways from Edsurge Fusion 2017
that helped address this important question:
1. Teachers must be agents of change, not objects of change.
Leonid Rabinovich from Miami-Dade County Public Schools, presented Voices From the Field, along with Heath Morrison from Mcgraw-Hill Education and Jason T. Green from Learning Innovation Catalyst (LYNC).
During this session, Mr. Ravinovich stated to the audience that we are asking teachers to implement something they don’t know (personalized learning), because most of today’s teachers grew up in traditional classrooms. Therefore, we have to support teachers through professional development (PD), and provide technology that will reinforce training. Likewise it is essential that we recognize teachers are at different levels of personalized learning with different levels of adoption, and provide personalized PD for teachers where they are at.
By empowering teachers to be agents of change, and provide teachers with personalized PD,, they will feel part of the process.. As a result, this developmental role will evident in the classroom and help students become self-learners as well, which is critical as students one day enter the workforce and understand jobs that do not exist yet.
2. Meeting the needs of each and every student is going to look different.
Today’s schools and districts must ensure all students receive the tools and resources they need to be successful in school, as well as in career and life. However, each student is unique and learning differs between student to student. Personalized learning is designed to improve educational outcomes through each student, but it also raises concerns about equity. The educational experiences between each student may vary, and sometimes the biggest barrier to equity isn’t always within the schools but outside. Such as when a student gets home, do they have access to devices, the internet, or space to continue learning?
With competency education in personalized learning, we are able to focus on our students each day and provide them the personalized supports so they stay on pace, gain the high-quality education they deserve, and gain the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in college, the workforce, and in life.
3. Technology should empower learning, not replace instruction.
Personalized learning tailors instruction to each student’s unique needs and learning preferences. Likewise it blends instruction by combining face-to-face learning with student collaboration, and technology resources. Technology resources include 1:1 devices for students and applications on devices that helps personalize instruction for each student.
Technology is a powerful tool for learning that can be used to help students develop skills and succeed in school. However, when schools and district design personalized learning models, they should think more broadly than only technology and include creating an environment where students are nurtured to develop a growth mindset. For example, Distinctive Schools (DS) Personalized Learning Model has successfully shifted from one of a traditional focus on teaching to one with a focus on deep learning.
Using a strengths-based approach, coupled with real-time feedback generated from short-cycle assessment data, DS educators coach our students in their development of strong and positive student identity and agency. In turn, our students become confident, well-rounded, resilient members of our learning community and are well-positioned for success in college, career, and life.
As a result, technology at Distinctive Schools supports student targets and goals, serves as a catalyst for student-centered learning, and one of the multiple opportunities students have to show mastery of skills. At EdSurge Fusion 2017, Sarah O’Connell, School Director at Chicago International Charter School (CICS) Bucktown, managed by Distinctive Schools, co-presented the Evidence Workshop, What We’re Learning: Personalized Learning Models, Tools and Outcomes, and shared with the audience how collaborating with LEAP innovations, and using platforms like Lexia Learning, has supported the school’s personalized learning journey. For instance, CICS Bucktown uses blended learning approach, combining the most recent technology and tools with exemplary teaching to provide a highly personalized learning path for each student.
These are only three takeaways that can be used to prepare our students for the future. As educators we want to prepare our students to lead productive and successful lives, and personalized learning encourages students to supports this process. To find out more about Distinctive Schools’ personalized learning journey, take a look at this recent article The path to personalized learning is not straight. The article provides insight into CICS West Belden's path to implement personalized learning campus-wide.
Teacher-Designed: Personalized Learning Favorites
"I found that letting my students choose their learning path for the day is really engaging and lets them be more independent in their learning," Emily shared. This also allows Emily to be more intentional about how she personalizes learning for each of her students. After receiving feedback from The Teachers Guild, Jin-Soo Huh, (Executive Director of Personalized Learning for Distinctive Schools), and other teachers at MELA, Emily has developed new iterations of her work, like the sample checklist below:
Trailblazer teachers and staff hold a vital role in developing school reform, and we are grateful for their innovation, commitment, and dedication to our network! This month we are featuring a Trailblazing Teacher from our Minnesota campus, Minnesota Excellence in Learning Academy (MELA).
This month's Trailblazer is someone who puts relationship building at the very heart of his work. He is dedicated, always willing to lend a hand, and goes above and beyond for his students and colleagues, even going as far as to ride the bus home to ensure safe travels of his students! This trailblazer is leading the way, and we are so grateful for his commitment to supporting and serving at MELA!
We feel so fortunate to have him at Minnesota Excellence in Learning Academy, please join us in congratulating a Distinctive Trailblazer, Mr. Jamel McNutt!
Mr. Jamel McNutt: Featured Trailblazer!