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NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies. Future State Design. i Zone 360. Our school is part of a community, called iZone360, which is reimagining the traditional school model in order to address the needs, strengths, and motivations of each student. Why We Need to Change.

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nyc lab school for collaborative studies

NYC Lab School for Collaborative Studies

Future State Design



Our school is part of a community, called iZone360, which is reimagining the traditional school model in order to address the needs, strengths, and motivations of each student.

why we need to change
Why We Need to Change
  • A number of alumni are coming back, saying that they aren’t ready for college, particularly around executive functioning: time management, persistence, developing habits of mind to be successful students.
  • Growing pockets of student disengagement are troubling to students, teachers, parents, and administration.  
  • Student – teacher ratio within classroom context, and entire milieu doesn’t allow for the personalization to which teachers aspire and children deserve.   (Students are not being challenged appropriately and students are voicing that some classes are geared toward the low end, and also the equally upsetting, why do I have to do this, and/or I can’t really do it.
  • We keep grafting innovative ideas onto the traditional model, but we have reached a tipping point where the strain of running the school and accommodating innovation is leading to teacher burnout – so we are now actually meeting student needs less well.  
  • Kids are trying to get over.  “What is the least that I have to do to keep my grade up; How can i cheat my way around; how can I make it seem that I am engaging with the work, while not actually struggling through...."
  • We have the lens to look at and unearth social/emotional issues, but don’t feel like we have the resources to truly address the depth of student need.  Students are in crisis in myriad ways; we want to respond and support both primarily and as a means of clearing the path for academic learning.  
  • There is a gap between the mission and the classroom experience – how can we analyze the gaps and tighten up the classroom experience so that it reflects the mission of the school?  While many isolated programs, practices and rituals very much reflect and reify the mission, the daily classroom experience is less explicitly aligned to our core mission and to the habits of lab learners.  
a new approach to school
A New Approach to School
  • Students take responsibility for their school--their Lab School--as an overarching collaborative project.
  • Lab school is wholly mission-driven: notions of "soaring intellectually and acting bravely” are taught into, practiced, assessed for, and reflected at every turn—curricularly and otherwise.
  • Students recognize Lab Life as Life! Not an artificial construct with little relevance to aspirations without.
  • We foster mastery of academic skills and also mastery of skills that nurture social emotional development. To this end, staff and students both work explicitly and continuously to develop self and social awareness.
  • Systems are in place to bring staff together in meaningful and deliberate collaborative configurations .
  • Scheduling allows for students and teachers to meet in targeted and varied ways.
  • Student work experiences are designed—by students and staff—to facilitate collaborative inquiry.
  • Every student is seen and known by the adults in the building; educators use systems and structures to see and know the specificity of student experience, need, and passion.
  • Teachers internalize the values of standardized exams to which our students are subject and then translate these expectations into collaborative, critical pedagogy.
  • Every teacher is a literacy teacher; every teacher is a technology teacher; every teacher is a champion of social justice; every teacher is a detective of the human soul, guiding students on paths to wellness and actualization.
  • Students and teachers engage in regular reflection on individual and collective learning experiences.
  • Students with academic prowess on entry—conventionally defined—thrive in a non-competitive supportive environment that values more than test scores—as evidenced in our full inclusion program, mission-driven praxis, and Habits of Lab learners.
  • 21st Century Skills and College readiness are understood in terms of self-and social awareness, physical/social/emotional health, a sense of belonging to a universe of obligation alongside scholarship and intellectualism.
next generation curriculum assessment
Next Generation Curriculum & Assessment

How can we re-imagine and transform curriculum and assessment to help all students meet or exceed the Common Core Standards and other rigorous academic standards?

  • An overarching welcoming culture of care so that all students trust and take the responsible risk of engaging in the work.
  • Teaching methods across the school are based upon the broad pedestal of Inquiry; methods may include Authentic Tasks, Project Based Learning, Problem Based Learning, Socratic Seminar. This focus on inquiry will provide rich opportunities for robust discourse and deeper learning.
  • Technology, integrated arts and alternative and varied physical education and physical activity work in the service of student engagement, joy, and achievement.
next generation curriculum assessment1
Next Generation Curriculum & Assessment

How do curriculum and assessments need to change to prepare students for dynamic and demanding colleges, careers, and communities?

  • We further unpack, operationalize and measure progress in students’ development of the Habits of Lab Learners. All teachers at Lab systematically teach, assess, and grade skills that endure, and serve students in the post-secondary environment: Collaboration, Work Ethic, Critical Thinking and Communication (Writing and Speaking).
    • Teachers use common rubrics across the school as a way to track mastery of the skills.
    • Inquiry as a ubiquitous classroom mode creates an environment where these skills are integrated into daily instruction and assessment rather than treated as a supplementary skill set.
    • Skills of social emotional learning are integrated into daily instruction and assessment rather than treated as a supplementary skill set.
personalized learning plans and progress
Personalized Learning Plans and Progress

How can students work together with staff and their families to create a personalized learning plan that helps them reach mastery at their own pace?

  • Students develop, starting in the 9th grade year, a Reflective Portfolio/ “IEP” specific to Lab School that students use to set learning goals, and populate with artifacts of their personal work including various benchmark inquiry projects.
  • Personal work around inquiry over the course of 4 years culminates in Keystone Project and presentation in Senior Year. Family and community members are involved with the process serving as expert advisors, members of the oral defense panel and as audience members at the Senior Expo celebratory demonstration.
personalized learning plans and progress1
Personalized Learning Plans and Progress

How can students receive frequent and detailed feedback on their progress toward mastery?

  • The process of developing portfolio and Keystone is scaffolded over 4 years, and includes expositions at each year as benchmarks of progress toward Keystone.
  • Time in our new master schedule is allocated to allow for students to meet with teachers in smaller groups for enrichment opportunities and/or targeted support.
  • Time in our new master schedule in which for academic departments to collaboratively analyze student work. This analysis will inform feedback at the individual and collective level.
  • Progress Reports are issued 6 times a year detailing not only empirical status, but next steps in leveraging strength areas to build areas of struggle. Progress Reports will explicitly distinguish academic performance from contributing factors (such as compliance matters). Further, evidence of progress/performance in overarching competencies will be communicated alongside academic skills.
new staff and student roles
New Staff and Student Roles

How will students take ownership of their learning and learn how to work in a variety of live and virtual settings?

  • Through projects and authentic tasks (designed to meet Common Core standards), students work collaboratively to identify what they need to know and do in order to complete tasks/projects; teachers respond dynamically to meet the varying needs of students. Collaborative group work is explicitly taught into so that all students participate effectively.
  • Teachers explore and students experience blended models through online instructional resources. Math XL, for languages, Khan Academy and various other programs and platforms will comprise our foray into blended learning.
  • Students work to teach each other and the adult learners at Lab how best to leverage social media and online resources in the service of collaboration, communication and inquiry. A reverse-mentoring model.
  • Students—as well as teachers—work as producers (not only consumers) of curriculum and assessments: determining how they will develop and demonstrate understandings.
new staff and student roles1
New Staff and Student Roles

How will staff take on new, flexible roles as coaches and facilitators to guide student learning? How can alternative staffing models help meet each student’s needs?

  • A new schedule creates time for the teachers to collaborate and share best practices, particularly around the teaching/assessing/grading of enduring skills and Habits of Lab Learners.
  • Inspired by the power of collaboration, staff members come together during protected time in various configurations to share promising practices, trouble critical incidents, co-plan, collaboratively analyze student work, and engage in courageous conversations about race, class, gender, sexuality and the politics of identity that so often keep us at a distance from one another.
  • Advisory classes push teachers into roles of not just academic content area experts, but also mentors and care-givers.
  • Peer Advisory Program positions exemplary seniors as “peer leaders” and allows for older students to provide orientation and ongoing support of younger Lab Learners.
  • As principal teachers, school leaders teach students directly (in elective classes, required classes, advisory settings) to cultivate and maintain relationships with the student body, to enrich the administrator\'s role, to experience teacher expectations, and to provide model/master sites of instruction for teacher learners.
  • A structured accountable small group instruction setting positions teachers to intervene in the face of gaps in students’ demonstrated skills and understandings. This intimate setting and kind ratio allows for a different quality of targeted and supportive interaction.
  • Teachers offer “intensives” in their areas of greatest passion and expertise. These deep dives into ideas and into the world both inspire students to further explore such topics and model for them what it means to care deeply about and pursue questions pertaining to a given subject.
flexible real world environments
Flexible & Real World Environments

How can we create flexible and real-world learning environments by re-imagining our use of technology, scheduling, and community/home resources?

  • Use of online platforms (D2L, Jupitergrades, Google class pages, possibly echo) allows for access to curriculum, grades, and online work any time, anywhere there is internet access…for teachers, students, and parents.
  • Use of laptops: both collaboratively to facilitate group projects and in an eventual one-to-one ratio to allow for student goal setting, portfolio processes, individual research, and negotiating the college application process.
  • Projects take students into the community, requiring interaction with professionals as content experts and as assessors of student work. Developing local partnerships include: Google, the Highline, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
  • Community expositions of portfolio progress invite parents into learning, and highlight student mastery of subject matter and the inquiry process. Students hone their skills around representing their own work processes and learning outcomes: to use language to let someone else know where they have been intellectually and what they have gained.
  • Seniors experience externships that get them working outside of school, applying those competencies mastered, especially as they transition to living out their post-secondary plan.