Our Approach to Transformation
Funded by the Bush Foundation and Phillips Foundation, EdVisions has launched an ambitious and comprehensive effort to support a selected network of schools in Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota striving to transform to more student-centered learning. The three-year partnership provides support for planning, implementing and evaluating a transformation toward greater personalization. Twelve public schools have been selected based on their readiness and willingness to implement research-based approaches to transform their practices to more learner-centered pedagogy in the areas of instruction, culture and career readiness.
Our core values are exemplified in two major ways; first, that all young people deserve the best possible education that aligns to their abilities, needs and aspirations and that they have an equal opportunity to receive and achieve that education. Secondly, we can offer the highest quality school or program model available to the public that meets the needs of young people. Further, we believe that young people are all unique and that student agency (choice and voice) are essential to creating a vibrant learning community. This learning community approach offers an active and engaging environment that motivates and inspires deeper learning. Schools were selected based on their demonstrated interest and readiness to transform to more student-centered learning pedagogy.
The Ed°Essentials (principles and practices of our approach) align closely to the Bush Foundation’s vision for individualized learning. The Ed°Essentials address the instructional pedagogy (instructional relevance), the school culture (cultural relevance) and the goals, aspirations and strengths of each student (career relevance).
Cultural relevance is deeply integrated into the practices of an authentic learning community through the importance of relationships. Our framework welcomes differences and individuality because it adds a richness to our schools. Diversity is honored, starting with multi-age, multi-ethnic advisories and school-wide activities that celebrate diversity. Through the advisory approach, a caring adult attends to each student’s needs no matter the cultural background or socio-economic status. Authentic feedback on the social, emotional well-being of students and staff through the Hope Survey provide the tools and data to continually improve the proven practices for elevating and honoring each unique individual. Although we have worked with all racial and ethnic communities around the country, we are particularly interested in diverse communities in Minnesota, North and South Dakota and with our many Native Nations in all three states. We think the EdVisions’ model will be greatly successful in the Native communities, as it honors the history, culture, natural settings and particular interests and values, and especially the native languages.
Most notable essentials related to instructional relevance include the personal learning plan for every student allowing for competency-based learning, student-driven, project-based learning (including a capstone project), public presentations of student work and experiential learning opportunities. Every aspect of the EdVisions’ instructional model encourages students to meet required standards by following their interests and progressing at their own pace. The important skills of math and reading are emphasized, but unlike other schools, this model allows students to continue to move ahead in their learning as they become proficient and meet standards. Other basic skills can be attained by multiple ways, often through online instruction. All required documentation and evidence of learning is part of each students’ personal learning and electronic tracking plan. In addition, the opportunity to engage in work-related internships and field study contributes to instructional relevance as does the presentation of student learning to a public audience on a regular basis because they are aligned to the students’ passions, goals and unique interests. In many cases, the model creates multiple opportunities for students to learn in community and explore nature to a greater extent.
Finally, career relevance is deeply explored at the secondary level through rich projects and collaborative experiences that the student co-create with their teachers and industry partners. Through these projects, students meet high school graduation requirements and standards while focusing their passions and activities on a career pathway that interests them. Students in this model have the opportunity to explore a variety of career pathways through a variety of methods. Many take part in post-secondary enrollment options or investigate careers and post-secondary programs through projects; many experience profession-based learning through projects designed in collaboration with their advisor and an expert in the field. In addition, a critical aspect of the advisor’s role is to help students with their post high school plan exploring and refining the plan throughout the secondary educational experience. Communicating regularly with parents or guardians adds value to the process as well.