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robertogreco : bigpictureschools   10

Can a Truly Student-Centered Education Be Available to All? | MindShift | KQED News
"DO FAMILIES WANT STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING?

Critics of home schooling and unschooling often say only affluent alternative families choose this path. While it’s true that home-schooling families tend to be at least middle class, there are also families who choose it despite economic hardship.

‘The reason there are so few truly unconventional publicly funded schools is that society doesn’t want them.’
When student-directed, choice-filled education was offered free to public school families in New Orleans, a wide array of families chose to attend the school, according to Bob Ferris, a founding teacher and onetime principal of the New Orleans Free School before it shut down in 2005. They had many low-income families and by the time the school closed the school was about 95 percent African-American.

“Black and Latino parents would come to us. Some were quite desperate,” said Chris Mercogliano, the former principal of the Albany Free School, an independent school operating on a sliding-scale model. “Their kid has already flunked out of five schools and they had nowhere else to turn.” Those parents were often skeptical of the model, which allowed students to choose what they studied, had mixed-age groups and looked very little like the schools they themselves had attended.

But over time, Mercogliano said parents couldn’t deny the change in their kids. Students who had been kicked out of multiple schools were suddenly begging to go to school. Staff members were saying positive things about students’ intelligence and unique ways of looking at the world, not calling with the newest problem. All of these things helped parents see beyond the traditional model and appreciate what Albany Free School offered their kids.

Still, very few people are ever exposed to this model, and those who are often find it threatening.

“The reason there are so few truly unconventional publicly funded schools is that society doesn’t want them,” Mercogliano said. “School districts and school boards and school people don’t want them.”

But is that the same thing as families not wanting them? If some kids find success in a more open, choice-based, free environment, isn’t it worth having that option for families that want it? Perhaps the real answer is not to turn all public schools into free schools, but to allow for a bit more variety within the public system so there is something for every kind of learner."
unschooling  deschooling  freeschools  2015  bigpictureschools  student-centeredlearning  learning  schools  alternative  race  class  chrismercogliano 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Big Picture Program Focuses on Real-World Skills and Projects to Help Teenagers Who Struggle in Traditional Classrooms - The Atlantic
"Nothing in particular stands out about the two adjoining rooms at South Burlington High School, one littered with desks, the other lined with simple grey cubicles. Yet the 30 students working inside are taking part in a uniquely personalized curriculum unlike anything their peers—or most U.S. high-school students—ever get to experience.

Big Picture, a program with a chapter at South Burlington, bucks the traditional model of high-school learning. There are no tests, no grades, and, for some students, no traditional classes to sit through.

That’s because the program is centered around the concept and execution of self-directed learning. With input from advisors, working professionals, parents, and peers, each teen participant creates his or her own curriculum, tailored to fit personal interests.

Big Picture’s model is now used in more than 60 schools across the U.S. And in Vermont, it’s also a precursor to a new statewide mandate meant to take effect over the next three years: Public-school students in grades seven through 12 will soon be required to create their own personalized learning plans.

Within South Burlington’s larger student population of around 900, Big Picture accounts for just a small portion of students. The program is broken into two sections: Big Picture 101 for new participants, and a 201 level for upperclassmen and experienced participants. Students aren’t required to take classes like English or biology—though they can if they so choose.

Each Big Picture student comes up with a big idea, or hypothesis, for their year-long independent project, such as 17-year-old Joey Mount’s plan to design a clothing line and launch an accompanying website. Teens tap into their pre-existing interests, then come up with creative ways for the topic to be reimagined to gain proficiency in subject areas like science and math.

The goal is for students to stay motivated and learn while gaining real-world experiences—and honing the tricky art of time management. Four staff members help guide, coach, and hold students accountable: two advisors, one Americorps Vista volunteer, and one program director.

“Most students who find us, find us for a reason: School isn’t working for them.”
Over the course of each semester, projects are carefully vetted and executed according to reporting standards, which are also predetermined by students. It’s a process that the advisor Jim Shields said evolved over the program’s seven years at South Burlington.

“Most students who find us, find us for a reason: School isn’t working for them,” Shields said. “If you think of high school as having a ceiling and a floor, there’s the students who are struggling because they’re falling through the cracks in the floor. Then there’s the students who just wanna take the roof off, who are held back by high school.”

This year’s crop of Big Picture projects covers a diverse range of topics. Shields’s students are gaining the academic proficiencies required for them to graduate by studying artistic endeavors like blacksmithing, clothing design, e-games, and pinhole photography. One is conceptualizing and designing a card game meant to increase face-to-face interaction among participants; another is producing a film examining how depression and anxiety manifest in high-school environments.

To earn their proficiency-based diploma, which results in a non-traditional transcript, the program requires that students achieve “a minimum level of proficiency and competence when it comes to mastering the essential knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college, work, and life.” At South Burlington, those lofty concepts are measured with the help of a rubric.

Kids are also required to seek out mentors related to their topic of study—a professional photographer for a project exploring pinhole photography, or perhaps a coder for another tackling e-game design. Second-year students also spend two full days a week working at internships, putting in 80 hours each 12-week semester.

Furthering that community involvement, the introductory students are also immersed in planning a group project, which the entire Big Picture group executes together. This year, they’re trying to open a café in South Burlington.

Although Big Picture is self-selective and small by design, Shields said he doesn’t turn many interested students away. “We look at a lot of things,” he said, “grades being an indicator but not the most important indicator. They may have no good grades, but started their own rock band, and they tour.”

After filling out a paper application, potential program participants are invited in to interview. The applicants and their parents are both required to submit essays, in which they explain why they think the program will work for the student. The process culminates in a test of sorts. Applicants are given a choice of two prompts to answer, both of which require the teen to consider how, exactly, they might complete a structured project over the course of the semester.

Sam Caron, 16, said he had trouble staying focused in a traditional classroom. He’s a first-year participant, and this year, his project is the creation of a cider press.

Comparing a traditional high-school schedule with a self-designed Big Picture curriculum is like comparing “apples and oranges,” Caron said. “Here, what I put into it is what I get out of it. It’s just that with this, I want to be putting more into it, because it’s stuff that I’m interested in.”

So how does making a cider press earn the equivalent of an A in, say, chemistry or world history?

To fulfill science proficiency requirements, each participant enters Vermont’s annual state science fair. Their entry has to have an angle related to their independent project, forcing them to think creatively in order to come up with a scientific hypothesis that can be executed and tested.

Caron will be testing and designing a contraption to demonstrate how best to extract the most juice from a single apple for this year’s science fair.

A panel of judges consisting of scientists and science teachers review each experiment according to a rubric. For other students, science fair feedback is just constructive criticism. For the Big Picture kids, it effectively replaces their grades, proving or disproving their science proficiency.

Shields said Caron’s cider press project would fall under the Big Picture “reasoning and problem solving domain.” The 16-year-old will learn through research, gaining hands-on experience while using the scientific method.

Throughout the year, students assesses their own work to measure what they’ve learned and to make sure they’ve identified, mapped out, and realized plans toward achievable goals. They also participate in exercises like weekly “Socratics,” where they read, analyze, and discuss a news article or piece of literature chosen by advisors or peers. Reflection and self-assessment are key.

At the end of the semester, instead of grades, feedback for each independent project comes after an “exhibition of learning.” Students give presentations to their peers, parents, and the public on their topics.

On a recent Monday, Shields stood in the Big Picture 101 room, moving from teen to teen as they worked through the day’s plans on laptops. As the bell sounded marking the end of the two o’clock session, his seven students put on their jackets, grabbed clipboards, and walked outside into the crisp Vermont air.

Their destination? Three local supermarkets two miles up the road: Hannaford’s, a New England chain; Trader Joe’s; and Healthy Living, a pricier health-food store. The students were on a fact-finding mission to help build toward opening their café, the program’s collective community project. On this particular outing, their goal was to figure out which menu items would be the most affordable.

As the group distanced itself from the old brick school, Shields walked along the sidewalk, in the middle of the pack.

The teens led the way."
curriclulum  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  2015  erinsiegalmcintyre  southburlingtonhighschool  projectbasedlearning  teaching  pedagogy  agency  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  tcsnmy  bigpictureschools  testing  tests  standardizedtesting  grading  grades 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The 13 most innovative schools in the world - Tech Insider
[grain of salt, and some guffawing for a certain item on this list]

"Makoko Floating School. Lagos, Nigeria. The school that floats.
Ørestad Gymnasium. Copenhagen, Denmark. The school in a cube.
Big Picture Learning. Providence, Rhode Island. The school in the real world.
Egalia Pre-school. Stockholm, Sweden. The school without gender.
AltSchool. San Francisco, California. The school of Silicon Valley.
Sra Pou Vocational School. Sra Pou village, Cambodia. The school for building community.
P-TECH High School. Brooklyn, New York. The school that bridges high school and college.
Steve Jobs School. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The school that thinks different.
Brightworks School. San Francisco, California. The school that teaches dangerously.
Carpe Diem Schools. Aiken, Ohio. The school built like an office.
Innova Schools. Peru. The school built by world-class designers.
Blue School. New York, New York. The school fusing compassion and creativity.
Samaschool. San Francisco, California. The school that says it's not too late."
schools  schooldesign  education  2014  nigeria  lagos  sweden  denmark  gender  learning  howwelearn  lcproject  openstudioproject  bigpictureschools  samaschool  blueschool  altschool  p-techhighschool  cambodia 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Out of the Box Learning Studio
"OUT OF THE BOX LEARNING STUDIO (OBLS) engages students in authentic learning that is personalized, active & connected.

Using the city of Seattle as the extended classroom, OBLS will prepare students for our complicated world by integrating academic content into experiential learning opportunities.

Students will showcase their learning & creativity through collaborative digital media arts projects & real-world problem solving challenges.

The outcome will be graduates with exceptional resiliency & agency as learners who excel in college, careers & life."
schools  charterschools  seattle  bigpictureschools  stevemiranda  jeffpetty  hannahwilliams  lindanathan  larryrosenstock 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Business Innovation Factory | Participatory Design Studio
"What if we put students in the driver's seat of a new kind of R&D to transform education? One that provided a platform for engaging students more fully in a real world effort that also involves faculty, education administrators and other system players? Could we improve a student's education experience? Yes. Could we take it a step further and transform education itself? Yes.

The Business Innovation Factory's participatory design studio gives students the opportunity to use real-world research and design methodologies to transform their student experience. Framed within the context of a real problem, the lab leads students through the design process, ultimately landing on a set of solutions to improve their experience."

[See also: http://businessinnovationfactory.com/projects/sxl ]
businessinnovationfactory  via:monikahardy  lcproject  learning  innovation  education  transformation  realworld  research  design  problemsolving  apprenticeships  student-centered  studentdirected  tcsnmy  bigpictureschools  projectbasedlearning  unschooling  deschooling  pbl 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Quote of the Day :: IDEA ["Compulsory Mis-Education by Paul Goodman…quote…remarkably summarizes IDEA's goals."]
"Thus at present, facing a a confusing state of automated technology, excessive urbanization, & entirely new patterns of work & leisure, the best educational brains ought to be devoting themselves to *various* means of educating & paths of growing up, appropriate to various talents, conditions, & careers. We should be experimenting / different kinds of school, no school at all, the real city as school, farm schools, practical apprenticeships, guided travel, work camps, little theatres & local newspapers, & community service. Many others…Probably more than anything, we need a community, & community spirit, in which many adults who know something, & not only professional teachers, pay attention to the young."

…I recognize…experimentation Goodman is referring to.

Big Picture Learning
Democratic/SudVal/Free schools
Unschooling groups and families
Unschooling Adventures Group
Place-based education
Online Education
Specialized schools"
paulgoodman  education  unschooling  deschooling  variety  alternative  alternativeeducation  zulekairvin  bigpictureschools  onlinelearning  democraticschools  sudburyschools  freeschools  place-basededucation  situatedlearning  cityasclassroom  community  servicelearning  apprenticeships  guidedtravel  farmschools  diversity  learning  lcproject  tcsnmy  experimentation  choice  place-basedlearning  place-based  place-basedpedagogy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
interactions magazine | Time Goes By, Everything Looks the Same.
"Working at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, Elliot and I set up a small nonprofit, Big Picture Learning. Working with the commissioner of education in Rhode Island, we had the opportunity to start a high school, The Met, as a model of what the schools of the future should look like. We started with a simple concept: one student at a time and what’s best for kids?
bigpictureschools  dennislittky  interestdriven  student-centered  studentdirected  students  tcsnmy  learning  schools  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  curriculum  design  life  education  servicedesign 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Innovation | Big Picture
"Big Picture Learning understands itself as a ‘do-think-do’ organization, mirroring the learning design implemented in our schools. Our innovative ventures are integrated into our work with students, school communities, and businesses and we augment our work with relevant theory. Big Picture’s practice informs our theory and our theory informs our practice – a cycle that leads to profound changes in education."
education  bigpictureschools  learning  innovation  change  lcproject  tcsnmy  doing  modeling  practice  mirroring  organizations  administration  management  leadership 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Puget Sound Community School: PSCS spotlighted in Dan Pink's new book | Facebook
"Puget Sound Community School. Like Sudbury and Big Picture, this tiny independent school in Seattle gives its students a radical dose of autonomy, turning the 'one-size-fits-all' approach of conventional schools on its head. Each student has an advisor who acts as her personal coach, helping her come up with her own learning goals. "School" consists of a mixture of class time and self-created independent study projects, along with community service devised by the students. Since youngsters are often away from campus, they gain a clear sense that their learning has a real world purpose. And rather than chase after grades, they receive frequent, informal feedback from advisers, teachers, and peers. For more information, go to www.pscs.org."
danielpink  pugetsoundcommunityschool  pscs  progressive  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  tcsnmy  grades  grading  assessment  evaluation  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  drive  sudburyschools  bigpictureschools  autonomy 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Business Innovation Factory | Innovation Story Studio | Dennis Littky
"Co-founder and director of The Big Picture Company and The Met School, Littky is one of the most successful school reformers in the country. He's created a new education model based on the belief that schools must be personalized, educating every student equally, one student at a time."
dennislittky  education  schools  policy  leadership  reform  children  teaching  schooling  change  innovation  administration  management  via:chrisod  lcproject  bigpictureschools  alternative 
november 2008 by robertogreco

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