information for transformational people

XQ 246Reimagining senior school 

In the USA, 13 schools in 11 cities are exploring new models of learning in the XQ: Super School Project.

The project grew from the conviction that senior schools needed new, innovative ways to engage students and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. This means changing the ways students learn and grow. A lot has changed in the last 100 years. We’ve gone from a typewriter to a touch screen. From a switchboard to a smartphone. From silent film to virtual reality. But senior schools in the USA have remained frozen in time.

Today, nearly 70% of senior school students in America feel that the classroom experience simply isn’t relevant to their daily lives. 750,000 students drop out every year and three in four admit to "mentally checking-out" during the school day.

XQ: The Super School Project set out an open call to reimagine senior school with meaningful, measurable solutions — and nearly 10,000 educators, community leaders, parents and students answered that call with creative, ground-breaking ideas for how senior school can become a place of genuine opportunity for every student. The Project then had 700 applications for 5 awards for pilots. In the end, they decided to give 13 awards, many involving schools with many disadvantaged students. These pilots are now on a journey to build new kinds of teaching and learning experiences with the goal of preparing students for college, life and careers of the future.

They are defining outcomes of the XQ senior school for young adults as:

  • Masters of all fundamental literacies - proficient in academic core subjects such as math and languages, to prepare them for college, career, and life.
  • Holders of foundational knowledge - curious about the world and engaged in a more just and functional democracy.
  • Original thinkers for an uncertain world - sense-makers and generative thinkers, creating many ideas in ambiguous and new situations.
  • Learners for life - self-driven and self-directed - inventors of their own paths, careers and lives.
  • Generous collaborators for tough problems - self-aware team members who respect diversity and diverse points of view.

Here are brief details of some of the pilots:

Design-Lab High School will put students in a mode of continuous inquiry as they design the world in which they want to live, and discover their places in it. It understands the global challenges facing its students, but sees absolutely no limit to the solutions students can design to meet those challenges. With design thinking baked into its DNA, this Super School will be a school based on a research-and-development framework that continually learns, builds and improves, while encouraging its students to do the same. Whether working on prototypes, podcasts or virtual museum exhibits, an academically rigorous loop of learning will prepare its students (including many first generation college-goers) for the challenges ahead.

Grand Rapids Public Museum High School will turn a museum into a high school, a river ecosystem into a science lab, and community agencies and science experts into partners in teaching and learning. The Grand Rapids Public Museum is the school location. Here, the museum’s collection of 250,000 cultural and historical artifacts will form the basis for its rigorous curriculum and project-and place-based learning environment—including one initiative designed to become the largest river-restoration project in the United States. Co-taught by field experts, scientists and researchers, this Super School will show how to leverage community resources and activate students to become ecological and economic problem solvers on the road to college-and career-readiness.

RISE High will meet students who are disconnected from school where they are, geographically, academically, socially and emotionally; and will open up clear pathways to college and career. It will show what is possible when a network of youth-development agencies, educators, municipalities and social-support centers break through silos to create a truly student-centered ecosystem. School sites will be embedded within multiple social-service-provider locations to create a citywide campus allowing RISE students to master a college-and career-ready curriculum in the ways, and at the places, that work best for them. If a student isn’t near a brick-and-mortar campus, RISE’s mobile resource center will drive to the students—so nothing can stop these students from becoming college-,career-and life-ready.

Vista High makes exploring world challenges how students prepare for college, career and life. Serving over 2,600 students, Vista High will prove that rigorous, personalized learning is possible. Report cards will be traded in for a Learning Positioning System that gives each student and their teachers a real-time roadmap of their academic growth. Working in immersive, technology-rich environments and guided by project-based instruction, Vista students will address major global challenges and apply their knowledge to solve local problems affecting them and their communities.

Summit Elevate believes that personalized learning and community connections are crucial to engaging learners and supporting their long-term success. Summit Elevate is fundamentally rethinking high school with a highly personalized program that helps every student discover their path. It is on a mission to provide traditionally underserved students with access to projects, guidance and experiences that engage habits of success; making the promise of college real, and the pursuit of a fulfilling career and life meaningful. Summit Elevate's technology platform supports personalized learning and tracks student progress in a continuous feedback loop. Partnerships with local colleges, universities and professionals from the community are integrated into Summit Elevate's curriculum, creating a highly “networked” environment. These partners connect students with career exploration, internships and mentors, providing access, and models for life beyond high school. By providing unprecedented networking among low-income students, community professionals, and higher-ed faculty, Summit Elevate is redefining what a college preparatory curriculum can be—and making good on education’s promise as a great equaliser for people of all backgrounds.

At Powderhouse Studios, independent student-led and teacher-guided projects prepare students for college and life through exploration, research and design. Students will collaborate with local scientists, artists and researchers to master rigorous academic topics and become independent investigators of the world around them. Breaking down the limitations of grades, classrooms and subjects, this Super School enables students to work together year-round, in the classroom and beyond. Every student will be supported by an academic and support team, consisting of a social worker, a curriculum developer and a personal project manager to ensure individualized success.

Read more here and see short videos about each school.

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Geoff Knott, 26/07/2017

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