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Re-Thinking High School

A Differentiated Instruction Perspective

A Workshop
On Tuesday, Oct. 23 I hosted a workshop for 70

administrators and consultants in the Edmonton Catholic School District. The intent was to look at ways high schools need to change if they are going to meet the needs of todays students. As part of the program for the day we heard from students, teachers, and administrators, and from government officials. In this PowerPoint presentation I am going to include some of the slides I used during the session and on alternate slides intersperse some commentary about each.

Student Voice

Student Voice
The preceding slide depicts a student from one of

our local high schools who I invited to begin our session by being part of a conversation about how important it is for teachers and for administrators to listen to what students have to say. We often pay lip service to the notion that education is all about kids; but, how often do we really listen to what they have to say? For me, it was important that we begin our day by listening to a students perspective about how classrooms and schools need to change if students are going to be engaged and theyre going to want to learn

Student Voice
Natalie engaged in a dialogue with her principal

and with her assistant principals and this is what she had to say:
Blocks of instruction need to be shorter Students should be allowed to bring mobile devices

such as Smart phones and tablets into the classroom. Flex time should be built into timetables so that students could pick and choose during those times what (and how) to learn. Teachers need to spend more quality time with their students one-on-one where possible. Students need more choice in how they

Feb. 28 Agenda

Feb. 28 Agenda

The previous two slides give you a glance at the

flow of the workshop. My idea was to begin with Student Voice, move on to Student Engagement in the classroom, and then to look at what administrators need to do create an environment that is conducive to innovation in the classroom and that is responsive to the needs and wishes of students. From there we were going to listen to what our Alberta Education officials had to say about how they were willing to support learning in 21st Century schools.

Our big task in the afternoon was to have each

school team and each district department plan an initiative for the next school year whereby they would put into action some of the learnings from the morning session. They were to look at incorporating elements into this initiative through the lens of 21st Century Learning Skills. For this assignment, I borrowed John Kuglins 21st Century Pedagogy schema which is housed in his Slide Rocket presentation embedded in his website. After and hour of collaborative work on this assignment, the group came back together for a

The Flipped Classroom

Student Engagement

On-Line Learning

Classroom Innovation

Differentiating Instruction
The previous 4 slides represent 4 mini-

presentations I asked teachers to make about how they differentiated instruction in their classrooms. It came as no surprise that technology played a huge role in each of these teachers attempts to engage students and to personalize instruction for them. Jennifer, in particular, demonstrated how students could choose to be assessed in her science classes using a variety of technology options. She showed us an example of an animation some of her students worked on to demonstrate genetic bonding.

Differentiating Instruction
Greg showed us how some of his students chose

to complete some on-line modules rather than going through the teacher-presented units in his Science 10 classes. The Flipped Classroom is an entity also put forward by John Kuglin and Dion, one of our high school physics teachers, gave us a glimpse into his virtual classroom and how he was able to spend more quality time with his students as a result of the work his students were doing on their own time. He could spend one-on-one time with students who were struggling or who were wanting to move forward more quickly.

Differentiating Instruction
Finally, Johann gave us snippets of innovative

differentiating practices throughout our district. For two years she was involved in a digital literacy residency project in many of our high schools. She was able to show us what many teachers were doing to profile their students (get to know them better) and consequently how they were tailoring their programs to the individual needs of students.

Mass Production to Mass Customization

Just before getting in to what school

administrations were doing to support differentiated instruction and innovation in classrooms, I used some of Bea MacGarveys ideas gleaned from her webinar. The following slides take a quick look at the history of education in terms of the Industrial Model and show why we need to move to a more Customized Model of education.

The Industrial Model

This slide originally had an animation where the text moved over to the other side upon click.

The Experience

The Experience

The experience is an anecdote

shared with us be Bea MacGarvey in her January webinar. It very clearly points out how many .coms have really understood the psyche of todays youth in particular and have learned how to build profiles of individuals so that they can then take advantage of that in their marketing schemes. MacGarvey challenges educators to look at this experience and to see what lessons it has to teach us about getting to know what makes our students tick and thereby allowing us to individualize learning opportunities.

Programming Innovation
The following slides represent 4 schools and what

they are doing in a big-picture way to create environments conducive to differentiating instruction and to thereby engage students. Each of the schools has approached this task in a very unique way.

This school has introduced flex-blocks, allowing its students to be in charge of their own learning for at least 70 minutes each day from Monday to Thursday.

This school has adopted Personalized Self-Directed Learning as its primary education delivery model first looked at by J. Lloyd Trump in his seminal work, A School for Everyone. You can also see that technology is pervasive.

This conglomeration of schools meets the needs of its clientele in very individualized ways. This is a necessity based on the eclectic and alternative nature of its students (from unwed mothers to drug abusers).

This school will open its doors for the first time in Sept. 2012. Consequently they have the perfect opportunity to customize their learning environment to take advantage of the 21st Century Learner. They have included flex-time in their timetabling and have conducted a lot of student surveys about what they would like to see in their school.