Friday, September 10, 2010

Innovation in Kentucky Schools

This past week, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), along with the Council of Chief State School Officers, Stupski Foundation, University of Kentucky and Centre College, sponsored an event that focused on Next-Generation Learning.

What is Next-Generation Learning?

It’s defined as a personalized system of education that prepares each child for life, work and citizenship in the 21st century.

Next-Generation Learning includes critical attributes such as:
1. personalized learning
2. comprehensive systems of learning supports
3. world-class knowledge and skills
4. performance-based learning
5. any time, anywhere opportunities
6. authentic student voice

An example I used at the conference may help readers get a little insight into what this might look like in schools of the future.


It’s 7:30 in the evening, and our student -- we’ll call him Alex -- enters his bedroom to begin his nightly homework. Alex is a 15-year-old sophomore in high school. He’s a pretty typical kid: on the soccer team and a struggling trumpet player (as a former band director, I can tell you he’d improve if he’d only practice), and he’s a member of the Key Club. Alex also is a member of four different Learning Teams that constitute his academic schedule.

Okay, time for homework. Alex sits down at his desk, boots up his computer, opens a Web browser and logs into his education portal. Each of his Learning Teams, as well as his extracurricular activities, has a dedicated section on his portal’s homepage that includes a news feed, calendar, photos, video and message board capabilities.

Alex clicks on his NorthFace Learning Team in the Science section. It is one of five interdisciplinary, multi-age teams in the school that has been “hired” by NorthFace to analyze various materials for use as the bottom of a backpack. NorthFace has provided specs, swatches and possible designs. Each team has one semester to complete its analysis and provide feedback to the company.

In consultation with the Lead Teacher, the team is exploring various chemical compounds that could be used on the fabric to increase its durability and water resistance. As a sophomore, Alex needs to meet state Chemistry Standards, so he has been appointed Chem Lead and is responsible for leading tomorrow’s discussion and backgrounding his team on the various chemical options, along with predictions on what would work best. Alex’s teacher has uploaded a set of videos, articles and narrated presentations that cover polymers, chemical bonds and the rest of the matter, plus links to websites for further reading. Alex starts reading and analyzing, and completes his presentation to the team.

Alex also finishes several other learning-based objectives for his other teams that night.

Since he completed a project last week, Alex needs to develop or join another team to fill up his schedule. Before he goes to bed, he reviews his online competency chart that lists the skills and standards he has mastered, along with those he still must complete. He clicks on the school’s Project Blog that lists available projects, including a narrative abstract, a description of each participants’ role and the expected competencies or content that the student will need to master in order to be a successful part of the team. He highlights a few projects in which he is interested.

Alex checks his online resume to make sure it is updated with his latest skills and competencies from the teacher gradebook. He sets a reminder in his handheld computer to “interview” with each Project Lead during “hiring” time tomorrow morning.

As Alex arrives at school the next day, he pulls out his mobile device and opens the “hiring app,” which gives him the Project Lead’s name, picture and location in the school’s common area of each project he highlighted the night before.

He meets Rosa, who’s project is designing and building the set for the upcoming play. She scans the barcode on his ID card, and his online resume pops up on the computer. They review it and discuss the project.

She is looking for someone to spearhead the design and draft construction plans. He is interested in applying his algebra and geometry knowledge. Rosa thinks Alex is a little short on experience, but agrees he could serve as assistant designer if she can find a suitable upperclassman to be the designer. Alex adds the project to those he will discuss with his advisor later in the day.

As you can see, the Next-Generation Learning experience is rich with learning, knowledge and skill-building that will prepare Alex and other students like him for what’s ahead.


To learn more about the conference and to view the presentations, click on the URLs below.

· Video and audio: mms://
· Downloadable audio podcast:

Look for much more in coming months as we develop our innovation continuum in Kentucky.

No comments:

Post a Comment