MK: We’d like to hear from each of the groups, but before I do I haven’t told you what’s happening behind the scenes. Our team has been capturing your work in real time and Diane is creating a website for you as a record of what you’ve done during this time. It will be done by end of tomorrow and you can check it out now as it is live at the web address that you used for the pre-event.
Group 3 – Career Standards
We came up with three in each old and new ways. In the old way the standards were based on “seat time” and we’d like to have some basic standards. Right now there is no specific career readiness and we’d like to mandate a career readiness seminar. The technology piece would have a technology group in the school district that would come up with what we need to be teaching the students.
Right now there is a lot of individual performance measurement and we would change that to come up with team assignments and have required academics and internships. We want the private sector to come forward to teach what they want the students to know.
Group 4 – School Year
We would shift from the traditional quarters to having year round trimesters. This would be beneficial so that kids don’t forget over the summer holiday. The old way is having 13 years from kindergarten to 12th grade and the new way is to have ways for students to complete credit hours so that they could finish school whenever they wanted to.
Seniors usually have early release and we would offer credit producing internships. Maybe some trimesters would be career tracks for credit hours. Right now there are academies but the students don’t earn credits for them.
Group 5 – Curriculum
We looked first at language. There is some expose to German, Spanish and French and we want to shift that so that students have an opportunity to become fluent and start in the grade schools.
We looked at personal learning plans and wanted to include professional development and include our stakeholders in the development and implementation of those plans. The financial awareness needs to be part of those plans.
We need to focus on the actions of the adults. We have solid institutional practices abut we want to shift those to focusing on the 21st century skills.
Group 6 – Changes in Professional Development
We want to change from a one-day in-service a month to a week long in-service just to have more chance to really learn things. We want more individualized training. We want to shift from bringing a specialist in who teaches something that maybe some of the teachers already know so they don’t benefit a lot from that.
We want skills that go cross-curricula. Also we’d like to see offering some things that support the pay, perhaps by sponsoring some masters programs.
Group 7 – Instruction and Teaching
We would switch from teacher directed/led offerings to more student directed programs. We would also be more project-based and instead of the generalized curriculum we’d move to the PLPs. We want to recognize that teaching happens in the process and not so much in the product. We want to move from limited technology to integrated technology.
Group 8 - Graduation Requirements
Currently our students take a certain number of credits for a total and we want to shift that to looking at satisfying certain standards instead of years of core areas. We want to have PLP embedded and develop life skills, such as personal finance and leadership development.
One thing we talked about is the valedictorians and salutatorians. There is a lot of scholarship money involved. Those things are still important to us so we’d have to look further at that.
Group 9 – Assessment and Feedback
The common strands through are shifting from knowledge base to skill base. If you look through the list you’ll see what stands out. Instead of language, arts and crafts, we would do things that were more project based. Instead of a report card, we’d have an electronic portfolio of a bigger picture a student’s education.
We give students feedback; if this is just a report card or a grade, they throw it in the trash. We can give narrative feedback and they may take it further. It’s disappointing when you see kids who do well in school but they are not ready for what comes next.
We’re accountable for the next steps and the ‘how’. Right now we tell them that if they don’t do their math, we give them detention. That doesn’t work. The whole ‘my way or the highway’ doesn’t develop respect. We need to have mutual respect.
Group 10 – State Standards for Technology
The old way is to have computer labs and the new way is to have a one to one networked device. It doesn’t necessary have to be a laptop; it could be a smart phone or other connected device.
The technology is put out to teachers but they have to self-train and the preferred way is to have some training to go along with what they receive.
There is no formal training for staff or students for technology and with the students coming up there are no teachers who can advise them about what they should post or not. We’d like to have formal k-12 embedded computer ethics and privacy education. We’d want to have them understand the consequences of those things for the workplace too.
Group 11 – Leadership
We want to shift from limited student involvement to engaging them in the process, maybe at a district level. We want to go away from the traditional scheduling to the PLP. The toolbox is decided by a team of teachers and we want to broaden that to include students, parents and others to help make those decisions.
Group 12 – Program Changes
Our programs are teacher led and we’d like to have more problem based learning where faculty and students work together to solve problems in whatever academic discipline. We want the focus on careers and state standards. We focus on the secondary years and we’d like to focus earlier. We’d like to start from birth through 12th grade.
We want to move from the era of textbooks to an era of technology based. We would also talk about the ethics, such as cheating and plagiarism, and we would want to utilize some instruction about these.
Group 2 – Graduate Profiles 2
This is a list of the synthesis of the six teams for beliefs, skills and knowledge. I’m not going to read them. We were asked to add what needed to be added. This was nonverbal communication, such as how you look and what you wear. We also recognized that leadership skills were not mentioned in our posters so we added that to our student profile after having reviewed the Nebraska Readiness document.
Group 1 - Graduate Profiles 1
This is our summary from the other six teams. The blue x’s are the things that overlapped with the Nebraska Readiness document. We also had to add a couple of things to our profile, such as leadership.
MK: Are you ready to do these things? Or are they just words on a white board? If I challenged you to do this, are you ready? (Some heads shaking yes) Any concerns?
- What happens to the individual when they get to college?
- Issues of money and external influences on your ability to make these changes, such as the politics of your particular community.
- There are logistical issues
- We also envision the responsible student when we talk about this, but what about the others? Do they stay in school until they’re 20?
- Our current system is built on centuries of beliefs and in some ways it’s a house of cards. If we present a recipe and say it’s ready to cook, I think we might find out that some parts aren’t ready to go. There would need to be phasing.
- What do we do with the businesses that are used to having students who can work? What do we do with teachers who are now outdated with the new system? For example.
- We have some comfort with getting around the current structures. Where do we push on that?
- Teaching our kids foreign languages at a young age isn’t something that we should start in 2020.
- Let’s not make it an overwhelming task. Let’s prioritize and move with the couple top things.
MK: What is the most important priority?
- Individual digital portfolio
- Teachers as facilitators
- Personalized learning plan
- Project based learning (interactive teams, integrated curriculum)
- Active vs. passive learning environment
- Global awareness
- We need student involvement. Student rebellion could sabotage this. Maybe we start at 8th grade. See if it makes sense to them. We need to have the students as believers.
- We need to start with things at different times. We have to be aware of the readiness of the students.
MK: We just learned something important about our time. We live in an integrated world and it has been for a long time. We tend to segregate things as we learned how to do that.
Any new eyes today? Any shift in your own thinking?
- I’m constantly amazed at what a talented group of teachers we have. I’m very critical in general and among the teachers and administrators who are here today, I see their dedication and I’m impressed.
- I was struck by the passion of people here and the similarity of ideas.
- I was impressed that people came here even on their summer vacations. What if you were in a group that spoke other languages? No matter how good we are, if our students don’t speak other languages they will be at a disadvantage. This is closer than we realize. Even some people cannot get jobs as greeters at Wal-Mart because they are not bilingual.
- But the language of commerce is English.
- But not necessarily forever.
- Which language would we choose?
- It doesn’t matter which language. Whatever language you first learn, every language after that is a lot easier. Teach them as early as possible.
- Learning a foreign language teaches me about a lot of different things. Even though I learned Spanish, I can recognize French because of it.
- As an outside, if you go with a PLP model, it leaves room for each of your students to personalize the plan. The diversity represented here around language shows us that we can customize our child’s education according to our own preferences.
- We should still help our students learn to read and write in English. Foreign language is extremely important but some of our kids still don’t know how to communicate in English.
- Kids that learn foreign language early know English better.
- We can no longer operate in isolation.
MK: Just for fun, do you remember what we did this morning?
- Improvement and overhauls
- Concept cards
- Life in 2020
- Graduate profiles
- We shared
- Shift and shared
- Group conversation
- Shift papers
- We have to cast aside all the aspersions from the other schools or the parents who won’t qualify for scholarships. If we believe in what we’re doing, we can’t back down. We don’t want to question ourselves.
- We are blessed here to have a good school system who is aware of our interconnectedness. Hats off to this system.
In case anyone’s brain is fried like mine, I invite you to join us in the bistro. The hotel has agreed to put together some snacks for us as well as a cash bar.
Dr. Rick Black
Thanks for your work today and we look forward to tomorrow.