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Edubloggercon Session 1: How do High performing districts make the shift?

At the first conversation of Edubloggercon, I lead a discussion on the topic of high performing districts and what motivation they have for making "the shift" toward a more student-centered, tech infused model.  Scott Mcleod pointed out before the session that in many ways, it's harder for these districts to change, when the current model seems to be working for them.
In many ways, it takes a "leap of faith" for a district like Edina to focus on higher level, student-centered learning, or project-based learning without having an implementation dip. In fact, to many, that dip CAN'T happen.
The constant increase in Adequate Yearly Progress requirements, also put strain on districts.

Someone mentioned that this MAY be an opportune time for change, because of Common Core Standards going into effect. In Minnesota, the new Language Arts standards are an open door...an increased emphasis on non-fiction along with digital reading and writing mean opportunities for LA AND Science and Social Studies.
Unfortunately, someone will ask, "Can you guarantee our scores won't drop?" (There ARE no guarantees!)
New assessments are being written, more skill based rather than content. Maybe that will help!

Jeff Kessler, a student at Science Leadership Academy here in Philadelphia attended the session, and shared that SLA just implemented Standards Based Assessment, 50% project, 50% knowledge based assessment.
Some 21st Century skills/standards could be embedded in multiple courses.
Easy grade Pro is the grade book they are using. Faculty and students are given the opportunity to crowd-source feature requests for a new system they are building.
Standards Based Assessment and PBL may be a way to get at this.
Optional homework for formative math, along with group work.
Students spent 5 days researching NASA data for benchmark.
Doug Johnson asked about our District Tech Plan, and what technology purchases would come of it. He noted that in Mankato, an Interactive White Board in each classroom showed the public that the classroom is different than what it used to be, which has been a good thing.

Another model is a 1 hour lunch for student help in Lusby, MD. This also allows for more collaboration time with other teachers.
We also talked about, "Why do students take AP courses?"
Answeres ranged from:
  • Colleges! 
  • Status
  • Prestige
  • It's an expected credential.
Dual enrollment might be a better option for students, as they actually earn the college credit directly from the college.
Kesler noted that SLA students can take classes at Penn and Drexel!
While our discussion did not yield a big, "Aha!" We did come away with some possible solutions worth exploring.
Then tonight, Joe Bire's shared a link to this article. We are not alone!
I think some of the ideas Christopher Dede shares here are important!

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