2013 Rowland Fellows
||Jason Cushner, Big Picture/South Burlington High School|
I will be developing and implementing innovative professional and community development structures that put teachers and students in the lead for creating curriculum that engages, enriches, and prepares students for success in the 21st century. I will create opportunities for dialogue among stakeholders that asks the question, "What do our graduates need to succeed?", as well as the opportunity to examine schools that are already undergoing successful transformation. Based on the ideas and energy generated from these conversations, I will work with the SBHS community to create school innovation that works!
Students and educators will experience a culture of inspiration, innovation, excitement, and collaboration. O.W. Holmes said, "A mind stretched by a new idea never regains its old dimensions." While the projects will be generated by conversations with staff and students, here are some ideas of possible projects to create that culture:
- Utilizing Big Picture South Burlington as a lab school: As a lab school, BPSB would be explicit about our desire to continually innovate and learn, giving SBHS faculty an opportunity to be critical friends to our work and test out new ideas of their own, all in partnership with local colleges (we have a teacher whose passion is cycling and he could teach an interdisciplinary term around cycling.).
- Setting up Innovation Tours: intensive trips for faculty, students, parents, board, and community members to see other innovative schools and have time to reflect on how that can affect SBHS (This would look like taking three days to visit four schools in New York City or Vermont and then intense debriefs in between each site visit. These have proven highly effective for reform with the Institute for Democratic Education in America - IDEA).
- Setting up school-wide professional development structures (like Japan's lesson study process where groups of teachers develop an innovative lesson or strategy together, observe each other implementing
|top of page|
|Carrie Felice and Shaun Noonan, Peoples Academy|
We are thrilled to be collaborating on an essential and exciting transformation of our grade level expectations and graduation requirements at Peoples Academy Middle Level and High School.
We talk with students everyday about what they need to hand in to pass, what classes they need to pass to graduate, what grade they need to earn to raise their GPA's, and what GPA they need to reach in order to make their dream school a viable option. It's almost as if the handing in, the showing up, the earning the grade become the goalthe proficiency we're requiring. It would be an honest assumption.
This conversation needs to change. We need to talk more about essential understandings and how they connect to what it takes to be successful in our rapidly changing society. As Tony Wagner writes in his book, The Global Achievement Gap "In light of the fundamental changes that have taken place in our society in the last 25 years, what does it mean to be an educated adult in the 21st century? What do we think all high school graduates need to know and be able to do to be well prepared for college, careers, and citizenship? And since we can't teach everything, what is most important?" The answers to these questions may shift the paradigm and help inform what it takes to move through and ultimately graduate from Peoples Academy. These answers should become our proficiencies, and what we discuss with students.
We can do this within our school community by clearly articulating and creating a proficiency-based digital portfolio system with students, parents and teachers to determine what students need to know, learn, and demonstrate what they can do. A system like this can help students to expand beyond mainstream learning opportunities while respecting, recognizing and cultivating their interests and strengths. What we get in return is a higher level of engagement among students, as well as students who rather than achieving a grade, work towards mastery or excellence by choosing a pathway that speaks to them. They will learn early in their high school career what specific skills they need to show proficiency, and we will be able to detect early the important skills and concepts that individuals struggle with or excel at. We can then create the appropriate interventions or accelerated learning opportunities needed to help that student reach their full potential.
We are looking forward to getting started and are confident that positive changes lie ahead!
|top of page|
|Sarah Ibson and Ellen Berrings, Harwood Union High School|
Our initiative to transform Harwood Union Middle/High School is to create a system that supports student-centered proficiency based graduation (PBGR). An essential part of our initiative will be building a structure and system to support our 9th grade team model and the Teacher Advisory program. These two programs are integral to the success of a PBGR system via the creation of personal learning plans and the development of a student portfolio system. Creating personalized learning plans puts students in charge of their education so they can begin to see a rationale for all that they do in school. The digital portfolio process will show growth in learning and proficiency in content standards, Common Core State Standards and the Harwood Graduate Expectations as a means of graduating. Moving towards proficiency based graduation opens the door for students to think more intently about the skills, knowledge and dispositions they need to succeed and the path they choose to get there.
|top of page|
||Colin McKaig, Black River Middle and High School|
In schools everywhere, students carry with them enormous computing power in their phones. It has an astonishing influence over them. My project, and our challenge, begins here: study the ways today's students are digitally connected, and more broadly, how this generation of learners is different from those who preceded them. I suspect brains are changing as a result of this technological shift. My students know nothing but a digital world. Their lives are wired with an access to information and communication not dreamed of even a short time ago. This has changed how they think in ways that we're only beginning to understand.
I have several other questions too. Should we consider restructuring the school day? Are traditional Carnegie Units still necessary? Might we rethink the ways students meet graduation requirements? How might these mobile devices affect the ways we use our school buildings? And lastly, addiction research. I see students who seem incapable of turning off their phones. Being asked to unplug and focus on other academic tasks is difficult, perhaps impossible. The connectivity is irresistible. Studying this, and drawing implications for teaching and learning, is central to my goals as a Rowland Fellow.
|top of page|
||Mike McRaith, Enosburg Falls High School|
As the old saying goes, "It's not how many times you fall off the horse; it's how many times you get back on." This little motto is at the root of what I will be studying next year as a 2013 Rowland Fellow. Recent research confirms that while IQ cannot be taught, perseverance is a skill that can be taught. The good news is, perseverance seems to be far more important than traditional IQ for achievement in school and beyond. People with high levels of perseverance related skills such as curiosity, self-control, frustration-tolerance, and social-fluidity have more success in school, have higher earning power, are happier in their jobs, and have lower divorce rates as adults. This research puts perseverance skills as the key skills for all young people to develop in order to improve their lives and create more opportunities for themselves.
As a 2013 Rowland fellow, I will be traveling around the country visiting schools that are implementing perseverance programs. I will be researching the ways to make perseverance skills core pieces our learning expectations and school culture at Enosburg Falls High School. We all face adversity and challenges in our lives. In partnership with our community and staff, I will be working hard to help develop teachable, measurable, and learnable ways to improve our students' perseverance abilities to "get back on that horse," overcome that adversity, and close achievement gaps.
|top of page|
The Rowland Foundation
PO Box 88
South Londonderry, VT 05155