First Meeting: Why an Innovation in Learning Study Group?

Teachers, administrators, and school board members from throughout WCSU schools gathered for the WCSU Innovation in Learning Study Group’s first meeting on October 11, 2017.

The first part of the meeting focused on the question “Why an Innovation in Learning Study Group?” Specifically, the group grappled with the question “What skills and character traits are essential for students in the 21st Century?” Even though our world has changed as a result of technological advances, many of our methods of teaching remain unchanged. In the 21st century skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity will be highly valued.

 
 

In addition to the essential skills that students need to be successful in the 21st century, the group also discussed the purpose of school. Although a rich, engaging curriculum that helps students apply learning to their daily lives can lead to increased standardized test scores, any movement away from a traditional curriculum can provoke uncertainty among students, parents, or community members. We need to demonstrate to these stakeholders that adopting 21st century educational practices will help prepare students for any academic or career challenge they face.

 
 

As the work of the Innovation Study Group continues we will continually revisit the questions around the purpose of school and the essential skills that students will need to be successful in the 21st Century.

 

WCSU Innovation in Learning Study Group members:

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Abbey Duane (Student)
Andrew Smith (Computer Programming Teacher)
Bob Coates (School Board member)
Eileen Vaughn (Library Media Specialist)
Erin Hanrahan (Middle School English teacher)
Garon Smail (Principal)
Hannah Thein (Principal)
Heather Lawler (Associate Principal)
Jennifer Stainton (Curriculum Coordinator)
Jenny Hewitt (4th Grade Teacher)
Jody Henderson (Band Teacher)
Julie Brown (Special Educator)
Kate Watts (Job Placement Coordinator)
Keri Bristow (Spanish Teacher)
Luis Bango (Technology Integration Specialist)
Maggie Parker (Student)
Marcia Gauvin (STEM Teacher)
Mary Beth Banios (Superintendent)
Matt McCormick (Middle School English/Social Studies Teacher)
Melissa Fellows (Middle School Science Teacher)
Michelle Fountain (High School English Teacher)
Nerissa Edwards (Guidance Counselor)
Perrin Worrell (School Board member)
Raphael Adamek (Director of Instructional Technology)
Richard Seaman (Director of Finance and Operations)
Sherry Sousa (Director of Instructional Support Services)
Stephen Stuntz (Director of Learning Opportunities)
Susan Piccoli (Librarian)

The launch of the WCSU Innovation in Learning Study Group

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Why?

After an incredible amount of hard work and dedication from its educators, Board members, community, and students, Windsor Central Supervisory Union is at a critical juncture. We have good programs throughout our schools but we have not yet made a bold commitment to creating learning environments that clearly reflect the demands of the 21st century. With this as a foundation, Windsor Central is striving to be a leader in reimagining learning in a global, digital, and rapidly changing environment.

Big Picture Plan

This year the Windsor Central Supervisory Union will invest a significant amount of its federal Title IIA funding towards studying models of effective 21st century learning environments and innovative programs with the goal of sharing the findings with district stake holders. This team will also be visiting sites with attention to how these environments might inform the Master Planning project for the WUHSMS campus. This Innovation and Learning Study group will offer its reflections and recommendations to the newly merged board for their consideration around how the insights gleamed from this study might contribute to a new set of strategic priorities for our member towns.

The Details

This Innovation in Learning Study Group would consist of educators, Board members, and students with representatives from all levels, but with an emphasis on the WUHSMS. This team will spend time visiting model innovative programs and learning environments. Currently planned visits include:

• High Tech High in San Diego, CA
• Design 39 Campus, San Diego, CA
• Olin College in Needham, MA
• Meadow Brook/Field School, Weston, MA
• Dearborn Academy, Harvard iLab, and MIT Media Lab, Boston, MA
• String Theory School, Philadelphia, PA

In addition to the site visits, the team will engage in reading common texts, curating resources, communicating findings and synthesize the visits, readings, and insights gained during the study period.