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Ideal Schools Project

Lead University: Leaders Influence People Donald K. Lazarz 7/8/2013

IDEAL SCHOOL: LEAD HIGH SCHOOL

Overview of the School: Lead High School is a place where students learn to be independent and interdependent leaders. John Donne, an English poet, famously wrote No man is an island. As if on an island, todays education relies upon instruction and environments that make students feel like their learning takes place too far from reality. Lead High recognizes the need for students to solve both individual and group problems in order for students to engage the realities of our modern economy and social structures. In a report conducted for the U.S. Department of Labor to provide analysis of skills required for the workplace, researchers found that people learn best when they are taught in the context of applicationin a functional context, (Kane et al, 1990). Furthermore, current educational institutions have designed their schools around a lack of trust in students and their abilities. If given the right environment and a different kind of approach, students direct their learning and take ownership which empowers them. Lead High will develop partnerships with community organizations and businesses both locally and nationally to provide structured learning experiences for students. Learning experiences are both problem and project based. Students are organized into project groups and assigned one or more outside organizations and projects for a specified period of time with deadlines and required products. Along the way, they work to solve a problem that is ever changing, a reflection of real world situations. Teachers and administrators guide, develop, and evaluate the skills of each student and the successes and failures of the group as they interact with the community. The traditional skills of reading, comprehension, mathematics, science and other disciplines are not overlooked or cast aside, but are rather interwoven into the project based atmosphere. Ultimately, students complete their high school experience believing in their

IDEAL SCHOOL: LEAD HIGH SCHOOL

experiences, armed with individual and group skills, ready to operate and thrive in our society, and networked with each other and their community. Analysis of Educational Structures: Lead High will not abandon the rigors of academics. During the first two years of high school, most classes the students experience will not vary from modern curriculum and practices. Whats different is the way in which students interact with the curriculum. In the science classroom for instance, when learning about blood types, students dont simply understand differences in blood and perform a lab to identify blood types. Instead, the lab is introduced by a nurse or doctor at a local hospital or clinic, where the blood is actually used and practices revealed. The interaction could be pre-recorded, skyped, or in person depending on the feasibility. Furthermore, the students would report specific findings to both the teacher and hospital professional. Many teachers are already incorporating such interactions intermittently, but Lead Highs goal is to provide these interactions in every learning experience and subject to consistently foster interaction with the world outside the classroom. During their Junior and Senior years, some graduation requirement courses are converted into applied courses in which the curriculum is converted into problem/project based classes that require extensive internal and external collaboration. These classes fulfill the states graduation credit requirement, but in a more interactive way. For instance, the senior level applied math/science/government course will revolve around helping current businesses, government entities, and community organizations plan for a real or hypothetical future development. Students will have revolving roles to conduct environmental studies, economic forecasts, zoning and planning considerations, cost and revenue analysis, among other

IDEAL SCHOOL: LEAD HIGH SCHOOL

categories. In doing so, theyll have to communicate with stakeholders to develop a comprehensive plan over the course of their studies. Plants for Structural Change: In order to accommodate the changes in curriculum and nature of increased travel and external communications, certain structural changes must be made. First, the school will operate in a block schedule which will allow more flexibility for teachers and interaction with the public. The school year will be extended by 4 weeks to provide each semester with an additional two weeks. This is intended accommodate the complexities of a more interactive program and allow for site visits, guest speakers, and planning time. Students will take applied classes during their first two blocks and traditionally taught block classes for the last blocks of the day. The applied classes consist of a combination of guidance time, independent study, and project time. The students are divided into operational groups for 10 weeks at a time four times over a year. Students report to a teacher group advisor, but will often gravitate to teacher subject matter experts for more guidance. There is no change to the hours in a day and extra-curricular activities are managed in a traditional manner. The most significant and challenging aspect of the program will be the community and business networks and commitments required by the public. Many organizations will participate willingly, but a process of screening, project development, dedication level, and time management will affect the success of the program and an organizations motivation to cooperate. Incentives for involvement could include tax breaks, free promotion of the organization, perspectives of youth, and the value of public image. Relationships and

IDEAL SCHOOL: LEAD HIGH SCHOOL

involvement must be well planned in advance and clearly defined to prevent the interruption to individuals and organizations daily operations. Statement of Expected Pedagogical Results: The intended result of Lead High is to provide students with a high school experience they trust reflects the realities of society and nature of its interdependence. By using the concepts of Bill Daggerts framework of Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships, Lead High expects to cultivate the motivations of students through the most meaningful learning of their lives. Also Lead High expects to produce long term educational results through extensive use of Project Based Learning (PBL), which has shown to increase long-term retention of content, help students perform as well as or better than traditional learners in high-stakes tests, improve problem-solving and collaboration skills, and improves students' attitudes towards learning (Strobel & van Barneveld, 2009; Walker & Leary, 2009). One of the ultimate goals of LEAD High is to change peoples perspective on compartmentalized versus interdependent learning. Students learn best from each other.

IDEAL SCHOOL: LEAD HIGH SCHOOL

Citations Kane, M., Berryman, S., Goslin, D, & Meltzer, A. (1990). Identifying and Describing the Skills required by Work. They Secretarys Commision on Achieving Necessary Skills: U.S. Labor Department. Retrieved from: http://wdr.doleta.gov/SCANS/idsrw/idsrw.pdf Strobel, J., & van Barneveld, A. (2009). When is PBL more effective? A meta-synthesis of metaanalyses comparing PBL to conventional classrooms. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 3(1). Retrieved from : http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/ijpbl/vol3/iss1/4 Walker, A. & Leary, H. (2009). A problem-based learning meta analysis: Differences across problem types, implementation types, disciplines, and assessment levels. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 3(1): 12-43. Retrieved from: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/ijpbl/vol3/iss1/3