Student Centered Learning
A student-centered approach to learning puts students’ needs and interests first. Pedagogical shifts and strategic use of technology can improve our insights into students’ academic and social needs and enable us to provide personalized learning experiences that address those needs. Starting with the student’s experience is especially meaningful and effective when combined with rigorous expectations, such as those named by the Common Core Learning Standards. The Students at the Center project at Jobs for the Future has curated a body of research on this domain, at http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/.
Levers of Change
The program’s four levers of change—curriculum, teaching, assessment, and expanded learning opportunities—are designed to support schools’ transformation into technology-powered, student-centered learning environments, and to help them meet and exceed the 2013-14 Citywide Instructional Expectations.
Digital Ready curriculum will use a mastery approach and digital delivery to provide 24/7 access to teachers and students, and to encourage customization and sharing of high quality open-source materials. As suits the needs of our schools, our curriculum model will help schools and teachers shift from a traditional “chalk and talk” model to blended facilitation with a focus on student ownership of their learning.
Student-centered teaching builds on the practices outline in the Danielson rubric. Teachers will receive support in engaging their students in digitally-enabled, project-based learning, and work to give students autonomy in pacing and project topic. Using real-time data about students’ learning to inform flexible grouping, teachers can engage all learners, gain deeper knowledge into the needs of each student, use strategic questioning and discussion to communicate with students, teach students to reflect on their learning, and adopt technology tools that empower students to research, produce, and connect.
Digital Ready supports schools in designing competencies that name skills and knowledge students are expected to gain. Mastery-based assessments yield detailed information about progress, and promote students’ ownership of their own learning goals. Formative assessments can track progress in a granular, real-time fashion for learners, their teachers, and families. Summative assessments offer opportunities to show independent mastery via richer and more authentic performance tasks, often showcased in digital portfolios. A well-designed set of competencies can also help expand students’ learning across classes and outside the classroom.
Expanded Learning Opportunities
To nurture interest-driven pathways and offer students an opportunity to Explore, Engage, and Practice their interests, schools will partner with external organizations to offer a range of informal and project-based learning opportunities. ELOs will provide authentic contexts for learning, opportunities to learn from and collaborate with mentors and peers, and pathways to explore interests that connect back to school-based learning.
The Digital Ready team recommends the following resources:
Students at the Center series of papers from Jobs for the Future
Competency Works clearinghouse from iNACOL, the American Youth Policy Forum, Jobs for the Future, the National Governors Association, and MetisNet
Making Mastery Work: A Close-Up View of Competency Education by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation
Opportunity by Design: New High School Models for Student Success from the Carnegie Corporation
- College and Career Readiness Benchmarks from the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness