A Providence Public School, 360 High School (360) opened its doors in 2015 with 80 students entering 9th grade. It is one of two schools in Providence that have been chosen to participate in the Fuse Architect project (Central High School being the other, which was featured in another blog post). This new high school has been “designed for the whole student” and continues to grow one grade level each year. Through community partnerships and technology, 360 High School’s aim is to expand the breadth and depth of course offerings – allowing students to personalize their learning and tie their passions to their academics.
For Principal Kerry Tuttlebee and the team at 360 High School, the Fuse Architect project is a natural fit with 360 High School’s mission and vision. 360 High School was developed through a year-long design process with student participation from various middle and high schools. The school emphasizes student-centered, mastery-based learning. This personalized learning focus allows students the flexibility in time and resources to move at their own pace through the curricula and recover credits where needed. While 360 High School is designed so a student’s journey acclimates to college-ready metrics, the focus is on real-world learning experiences and community involvement.
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As a newly designed high school in the Providence Public School District (PPSD), 360 has a focus on personalized learning, empowering students and teachers, integrating new insights into practice immediately, and adapting to the identified needs of the school. This translates into more flexibility over key decisions around curriculum and schedule. As such, the district provides the support and conditions for flexibility that will allow the students, teachers, and administration of 360 to act on what serves them best.
Student voice is a fundamental aspect of the 360 High School design. As a school built on democratic principles, all students are asked to participate in the evolution of 360 High School through opportunities like student advocacy groups, hiring committees, focus groups, and student surveys. Additionally, other key stakeholders, including community members, staff, and parents are actively engaged in providing input for the betterment of the school. Tuttlebee shares that “students’ interests and talents outside of school are very diverse and the more we can tap into their unique abilities and what excites them about life, the more meaningful their academic learning becomes…Keep what is right for kids as your north star and don’t be afraid to take some chances.”
As a new school, the team at 360 High School entered the Fuse Architect program at a unique place. In their application process, 360 High School initially identified a need to become increasingly more student-focused in the classroom, systematize staff and students’ use of ed tech tools, and balance the demands placed on teachers in a student-centered, mastery-based learning environment. They also expressed a desire to ensure students have “the right work” in order to advance the vision of anytime, anywhere work over which the students truly feel ownership. Ultimately, 360 aims to develop course-long and content-wide scope and sequences for students to master content and progress independently.
Fast forward to the end of Phase 1, where 360 High School’s design plan narrowed in focus. Included in their work is a focus on empowering students to expand the boundaries of their learning environment. To achieve this, 360 partnered with a local organization, Youth in Action, that will help 360 develop a model where students can work towards learning targets both inside and outside the classroom.
Finally, the design team felt as though students needed to rethink instruction so that they would feel more comfortable with student-centered learning. In turn, they established a design thinking protocol that all 9th grade teachers will teach as a conceptual bridge students can apply across content areas. By providing a single schemata for approaching problems and developing knowledge, 360 hopes to increase student academic outcomes. To house this curriculum and the community projects, as well as to meet individual student needs, 360 purchased Schoology, a Learning Management System, as part of the Fuse Architect project. Through Schoology, 360 hopes to make use of its features that are aligned to student-centered learning, as well as ease the burden of communication between expectations on assignments and student progress monitoring.
To learn more about the Fuse Architect project, updates, and partnerships, see all blogs in this series!