Sunday, May 18, 2008

High School Reform

In the past week I've come across several sources that all seem to be saying the same thing. New educational models are needed in the United States for our current high school system. The Association for Supervisors and Curriculum Development (ASCD) published High Schools at the Tipping Point by Bob Wise. Bob Wise ( former Governor of West Virginia and the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education) suggest 3 areas of reform:

  1. Align what schools expect of students with the demands of college and the workforce.
  2. Offer a rigorous, option-rich curriculum; personalize learning; and provide necessary supports.
  3. Improve instruction by mining data and using digital technologies.
In regard to #3 and the use of digital technologies, Wise states that schools must provide ongoing professional development that promotes the systematic and thoughtful use of digital technologies.

The second find was this trailer from the movie titled Two Million Minutes. Two million minutes refers to the amount time we have during 4 years of high school. How students spend these 2 million minutes will predict our economic and democratic future. I haven't seen the movie but the trailer looks interesting. The film is a documentary that follows 6 students from the United States, India, and China. I think one has to be cautious drawing conclusions from the stories of only 6 students but it does reflect broader "world is flat" research.

What will educational reform look like? I consistently come across these 3 themes: collaboration, creativity & innovation, and personalized learning. What will make this all happen? Technology.

In the following video by Pearson for the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), many education notables, including Chris Dede (Harvard), Deborah Baker (Superintendent of nearby LeRoy SD, currently Asst. Super @ Brighton SD), Ken Kay (President, Partnership for 21st Century Skills), Yong Zhao (Michigan State University), among others, interject their thoughts which include a call for moving from a classroom system to a community system. Listen in...

As I see it, the change is inevitable. What is it then, as teachers do we have control over? Staying ahead of the curve by inspiring creativity and collaboration using technology. If you need some inspiration to orchestrate collaboration then watch this video by a teacher who gives all his students "A's" (at the beginning of the course).


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