West Coast: Day 1

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Three hours into our first day of investigating innovative schools and we are overwhelmed with the potential we are seeing.  We have met students who deeply know and own their work, growth and goals.  Classrooms of 24 students, at every grade level, that focus learning at the skill levels of their students. Buildings and classrooms that engage students and adults to stretch their thinking of what is possible.  Basic skills that are not ignored but rolled into the project or theme of the class.  Student discourse that is sophisticated, student facilitated, and questioning of the core concepts we adhere to.  To say we are impressed is truly an understatement.  

The Innovations Study team also sees that our schools’ have many of the core pieces in place.  Our curriculum is not significantly different.  Our students value education and learning as strongly.  Teachers have similar skill sets and knowledge.

What appears to be different is that the structure and method of engagement allows for greater ownership of learning by the student.  Teaches sit in the back of classrooms and collect data on student voice.  Students are valued for what they contribute in their words, in their writing, and in their artwork.  There is minimal homework with the focus on advancing the learning in the presence of the teacher.  There are no study halls or resource rooms.  The classroom is not defined by four walls. And schools are filled with examples of high-quality student work.