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Designing a New Learning Environment

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Mark Engstrom

on 25 January 2013

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Transcript of Designing a New Learning Environment

What kind of education do we want for the next generation? One where students are told what to learn or get to choose what they want to learn?

One where teachers primarily give lectures or one where students work with knowledgeable adults on how to proceed with their projects?

One where the staring at the clock is the primary pastime or where finding new exploratory groups is the norm? “The mission of ExCEPtional Schools is to create a joyful learning community where students have a choice in what and how they learn, have real life experiences, understand the purpose of what they are doing and the value of their education.” A Joyful Learning Community ExCEPtional Schools partner with families to create an environment and schedule so that students can set academic goals and pursue those goals in a manner that suits the students’ interests and learning style.

Families can choose which programs their individual children will take part in.

Students can choose what, how, and with whom they would like to learn. How are we different? Deep, authentic learning requires shared ownership of the process by teachers, students, and families. Shared legal and financial ownership, in some contexts, may be an important tool to build this shared ownership of learning.

Learners’ own interests and passions are central to authentic learning. But it is a false choice to claim that passion-based learning is incompatible with deep and broad mastery of a set of essential knowledge, skills, understandings, and dispositions. A joyful learning community helps learners make connections between their own passionate interests and a high-quality curriculum. Core Beliefs Core Beliefs Deep, lasting learning is active, not passive. Activity may be overt or covert, but passive learning is an oxymoron. With our deep commitment to active learning and personal involvement, our students will retain, regain, or rebuild a sense of personal agency that is often lost through participation in factory-model schools. Our approach to project design, assessment, and classroom management will stress personal responsibility and the development of a growth mindset. We aim to learn from mistakes, not punish students for making them.

One of the best ways to learn is to build something meaningful with what you are learning. Interest- and passion-based projects, designed and built by individual learners or groups of learners, are at the core of our approach to learning. These projects will normally involve the wider community and external experts, both in the design of the project and in its eventual real-world use. What does a student's schedule look like in the Middle School? MS students will participate in a schedule that is a balance of introductory units, exploratory options, asynchronous collaborative engagement, and targeted individual goals. Mornings will include two separate math and
language blocks with the afternoon a combination
of student led and teacher led blocks of learning. What does a student's day look like in
Elementary School? We believe that these steps will lead to happier and healthier students and families. Want to find out more? Visit:
https://sites.google.com/site/exceptionalschools/ Constructivist- students get to "construct" a majority of what, and how, they learn.

Experiential- there are planned times in the school calendar where experiencing the world is the primary focus.

Purposeful- students will both understand the purpose of their learning and when possible, student work will be used for the betterment of the school, local, and global communities. What does CEP in ExCEPtional stand for?
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