This KQED MindShift blog article follows the school-wide improvement led by Principal Jerry Smith at Luella High School outside Atlanta, Georgia. Looking to drastically transform classrooms and move to a more inquiry-based approach, the school competed for and won a Next Generation Systems Initiative grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to begin their work. The first step was adjusting the master schedule, a very difficult change at a big high school, but important as it sends a message that a major shift in approach and pedagogy is occurring.
The school now uses a modification of a rotation schedule. Several educators teach the same course at the same time and students can move between classes based on their individual learning needs. One teacher might be facilitating a small group project, another leading a large group discussion, and a third working on specific skills. The configurations and learning activities vary by grade and content area to meet student needs. Personal Learning coaches help teachers identify these needs. Constant formative assessment also helps teachers adjust as needed. Other school and district leaders may gain ideas from this article which presents a complex picture of a school in the middle of transition with much progress made and much work still to be done.
Source Organization: KQED