Instructional vision for high schools shared

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Principals Jill Gurtner (CSCS) and Peg Shoemaker (MHS) and Director of Secondary Education Laura Love reported on the redesign process for high school teaching and learning at the Board of Education meeting at the District Services Center on Monday, May 10.

MHS social studies teacher Andrew Hartman and MHS band teacher Doug Brown also participated in the presentation.

Love opened by showing a short video about what is possible for high school learners. She then reviewed the redesign timeline, noting in 2017 the focus was on what should learning look like, 2018 included collaborative visioning for building design, the next two years were spent visiting schools with a focus on learning design and 2021-22 are being spent developing multiple pathways for innovation.

Gurter noted the redesign journey has included conversations with leaders, architectural plans for the building, and this past year building a new reality. Students have been involved throughout the process, she said, including reviewing this presentation. MHS and CSCS staff have also been involved throughout along with a community survey with more than 1,250 respondents. The redesign team visited seven schools and also consulted local and national experts about what is possible, Gurtner added.

Shoemaker noted best practices are moving away from a teacher-centered focus to learner empowerment. Other goals include making content relevant and accessible anytime and anywhere, and socially embedded and competency-based.

She noted there is an emphasis on student choice and voice in learning with interdisciplinary learning strands. Nine proposals were submitted by teachers but haven't determined which ones will be implemented. Partnerships are involved in every strand.

Hartman and Brown then shared details on a new hip-hop cooperative, which is one of the strands that will be offered. Hartman, who started teaching at MHS 10 years ago, was part of the visioning team.

"I was blown away by what was going on in other places and I was ready to jump into whatever Peg wanted me to do,'' Hartman said.

Hartman and Brown noted MHS has run a semester-long hip hop class for the past two years. The plan is to provide an alternative form of education that serves students, especially those who might not currently be engaged to the level desired. The five pillars of hip hop were used to encourage academic literacy and creative thinking while still being rigorous.

Brown noted the four core strands will include fine arts, social studies, English and wellness. He reviewed which students might participate and also indicated there will be an opportunity for credit recovery for students who currently are struggling.

Hartman noted the rollout will occur over the next 3-4 years. The plan is to cap the hip hop cooperative to 60 students in Year 1. Current freshmen will sign up first.

Some learning strands will go for one year, while others may go for two years. The educators also believe this may lead to more students taking a CSCS seminar.

"We have to do more than build a new building,'' Shoemaker said. "We have to come up a different way for teachers to teacher and for learners to learn. We are excited about what the new school has to offer.''

Love also noted success will be measured through student self-reports, teacher reports, and other data, such as student attendance and mastery transcript and grades.