Reimagining school to deliver awesome individualized education

Minnesota in July is especially lovely. While 2Rev was there earlier this summer to work with a large cohort of educators in our partnership with the Bush Foundation, we soaked in the explosions of color and shapes in the Hamline University flowerbeds, where our design institute was hosted. The diversity, energy, and beauty we found outside was mirrored inside, amid the teams of educators working to design individualized models of school in Bush’s new School Design for Individualized Learning initiative.

Flowerbeds decorating the walkways of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where we recently held a design institute with our partners at the Bush Foundation. 

Flowerbeds decorating the walkways of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, where we recently held a design institute with our partners at the Bush Foundation.

The goal of Bush’s initiative is to inspire, equip, and connect educators in the Minnesota/Dakotas region who want to reimagine the purpose and structure of school, so that they can, in turn, design individualized education opportunities that meet the abilities, backgrounds, and aspirations of all students. Over the past several months, we have partnered with Bush to make that goal a reality. Here are some highlights!

School Design for Individualized Learning: The Journey

Educators from around Minnesota, the Dakotas, and 23 Native Nation states were invited to participate in designing new individualized learning models. The graphic below illustrates the arc of the journey for participants. The work began with orientations around the region to spread the word and excitement about the promise and potential of individualized learning. From there, educators opted to participate in a series of design sessions. The first focused on the design principles of individualized learning and helped participants build their design thinking muscles. During the second session, teams dove into empathy and storytelling exercises, helping them to identify strengths and barriers inherent in their individualized learning models.

 

This graphic demonstrates the steps of the design experience for participants: beginning in April 2017 educators joined orientations, and then participated in a series of design sessions culminating in a design institute where they presented new ideas for individualized learning.

This graphic demonstrates the steps of the design experience for participants: beginning in April 2017 educators joined orientations, and then participated in a series of design sessions culminating in a design institute where they presented new ideas for individualized learning.

 

From Moorhead to Rochester and back to the Twin Cities, we found educators ready to dive in, with more than 100 participants opting into the design sessions.

From Moorhead to Rochester and back to the Twin Cities, we found educators ready to dive in, with more than 100 participants opting into the design sessions.

 

Teams had a chance to dig into design principles of individualized learning and were pushed to experiment with ideas they might not have thought possible.

Teams had a chance to dig into design principles of individualized learning and were pushed to experiment with ideas they might not have thought possible.

 

A pair-share between two teams to sharing their designs. This warmth and collaboration was the norm throughout the process. 

A pair-share between two teams to sharing their designs. This warmth and collaboration was the norm throughout the process.

 

The learning progression workbook served as a guide for teams to self-assess their strengths and growth edges.

The learning progression workbook served as a guide for teams to self-assess their strengths and growth edges.

 

There was such a bounty of creativity and energy amongst participants. This photo is of team members from Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a year-round, K-6 public charter with a Dakota and Ojibwe language immersion focus. Bdote uses project-based learning to teach the local history, landscape, ecology, and Native languages and cultures. The team joined the design initiative with the goals of increasing the rigor of instruction and personalizing that instruction to allow each student to be met and challenged at their individual level. They’ve since added the idea of removing grade-level divisions altogether to allow for diverse age-groups of learners to receive more personalized instruction appropriate to their level rather than their age or grade.

There was such a bounty of creativity and energy amongst participants. This photo is of team members from Bdote Learning Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a year-round, K-6 public charter with a Dakota and Ojibwe language immersion focus. Bdote uses project-based learning to teach the local history, landscape, ecology, and Native languages and cultures. The team joined the design initiative with the goals of increasing the rigor of instruction and personalizing that instruction to allow each student to be met and challenged at their individual level. They’ve since added the idea of removing grade-level divisions altogether to allow for diverse age-groups of learners to receive more personalized instruction appropriate to their level rather than their age or grade.

Design Institute & What’s Next

After this months-long design process and sessions, we all came together in mid-July (see flowers above!) for a final convening: a two-day Design Institute where participants refined their individualized learning models, and in Shark Tank-style presented their plans and received critical feedback to get them ready to apply for funding from the Bush Foundation.

It’s truly been a spring and summer of growth and beauty in St. Paul and beyond, colorful surprises and boundless energy. As teams begin to write their applications for funding, we are cheering them on. From what we have seen already, great things are growing in this region. Stay-tuned for more on this work!

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2017-08-10T17:10:10+00:00