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An inspiring community of researchers and practitioners – known as The Better Math Teaching Network – is looking to transform high school math instruction. Check out how they are using the principles of improvement science to develop student-centered techniques and strategies for math classrooms.Watch the Video
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Working together, educators, parents, and students customize instruction as much as possible to students’ individual developmental needs, skills, and interests. Students develop connections to each other, their teachers, and other adults that support their learning. Read More »
Students have equitable options to learn outside of the typical school schedule and away from the campus. Whether that means studying on line, completing an internship over the summer, or taking advantage of some other out-of-school opportunity, they can receive credit for the knowledge and skills they master. Read More »
Students move ahead in the curriculum based not on the number of hours they spend in the classroom but, primarily, on their ability to demonstrate that they have reached key milestones along the path to mastery of core competencies and bodies of knowledge. Read More »
Students gain increased understanding of and responsibility for their own learning via frequent opportunities to decide such things as the topics they study, the books they read, the projects they pursue, and the curricular pathways they take en route to meeting college and career ready standards. Read More »
January 17, 2017 | by Eric Toshalis
Here’s an alarming thought: What if our educational research questions, policies, and practices sometimes arise as much from ignorance as… Read More »
January 9, 2017 | by Kirk Walters
Student-centered teaching is complex, demanding work. It requires teachers who are curious and have an unwavering commitment to helping all… Read More »
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Maya stops by Steven's house after school.
"Is this your report card? It has a lot more information than mine does."
Steven's report card is competency-based. He tells Maya that his teachers explain their expectations and describe why he received each grade.
"My report card explains what I learned in each competency and where I need to work harder, so I know how to improve."
This teacher feedback also makes it easier for Steven's parents to support him. Steven's mom explains:
"Ms. G's notes last semester clued us in to some trouble Steven was having in biology. He had to redo one lab, but I like that he has the chance to take extra time to understand the concepts. Steven likes that he can move ahead more quickly in subjects he’s better in."
"Wow! My school has been trying a lot of new stuff like this. I wonder if competency education is next."
Maya's school has student-led parent conferences instead of traditional parent-teacher ones. She presents work from her classes and can talk openly about successes and difficulties.
"I'm proud of my writing assignment analyzing the ending of The Great Gatsby."
"I'm still struggling in geometry, though."
Maya's dad asks:
"What's been difficult about your geometry class?"
Maya says she thinks she understands her teacher's lessons, but when it comes time to apply the concepts, she often gets wrong answers.
Her advisor gives Maya's problem some thought and asks:
"Have you explained to your teacher that this keeps happening?"
After listening to her dad and her advisor, Maya comes up with her own solution to try.
"I'll talk to my teacher this week about how to make geometry work for me."
Maya and her geometry teacher meet after Maya's student-led parent conference. Maya has an idea:
"I think it might help if I could see how geometry is applied in the real world."
Maya thinks of her uncle, a carpenter. Together, Maya and her teacher brainstorm a set of questions. Maya connects with him via Skype.
Maya watches as her uncle explains his models and his designs. Seeing congruence applied in a real world setting helps Maya see the importance of exact measurements.
"I always start by taking the exact measurements of the room where the cabinet will go. I then build congruent scale models of the room and cabinet to see how the cabinet would fit. As long as my models are exact, I'll know my cabinet will fit perfectly."
"I think I understand geometry better now. Can we talk again if I get stuck?"
Maya's classmates are inspired by her work with her uncle and want to try something new too.
"Can we show what we know instead of taking a test?"
"Maybe we could work with my uncle as part of our assessment?"
The students design a short project-based assessment with their teacher that incorporates the key elements of their geometry unit.
In Maya's uncle's workshop, the students examine and measure his scale models and corresponding full-sized cabinets to demonstrate the exact congruence.
Back in their classroom, the students show their teacher that they have mastered the concepts of congruent shapes and the importance of exact measurement in the real world. She is pleased:
"Great job! Getting out of the classroom seems to have deepened your learning. Let's consider more out-of-school learning opportunities."