Friday, July 14, 2017

Finding Real World Partners is Key to Real World Student Learning Projects Success

Wonderful piece from edutopia... 

"Partnership Strategies for Real-World Projects

Students gain by taking on interdisciplinary projects with community nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies.
Giving students opportunities to tackle real-world problems is a surefire strategy to increase engagement. Yet many teachers struggle to design academically rigorous projects that connect students with the world beyond the classroom. How are they supposed to engage with community partners, recruit content experts, and enlist authentic audiences—all while attending to student learning goals?

Iowa BIG, a public high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has taken the mystery out of real-world learning. The school’s competency-based model emphasizes passion, projects, and community rather than a packaged curriculum. Students learn across content areas by choosing to undertake interdisciplinary projects with community nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies.

In recent projects—all aligned to Iowa CORE state standards and Next Generation Science Standards—students have advised city officials on how to improve their use of social media, created a dance therapy curriculum to promote inclusion for people with special needs, investigated the use of drones for agriculture, and engineered a plan to redevelop an abandoned meatpacking property for recreational use.
To help grow this break-the-mold high school, which draws students and financial support from several districts in the region, XQ: The Super School Project has awarded Iowa BIG $1 million in grant support.

Engaging With Stakeholders

I had a chance to talk with the founders of Iowa BIG while researching All Together Now: How to Engage Your Stakeholders in Reimagining School.
Trace Pickering, Iowa BIG’s executive director and cofounder, and Troy Miller, the school’s director of strategic partner development, shared practical insights about building effective partnerships. Here are the highlights.

Bring partners into school change conversations. Iowa BIG came about through creative community outreach. Before even starting to design the new school in 2012, Pickering and Iowa teacher Shawn Cornally invited adults from the community to go back to school for a day and then discuss the experience. Some 50 citizens of diverse ages and backgrounds took part. Their unanimous conclusion: Traditional high school was leaving too many students bored while doing too little to prepare them with the skills needed for college, careers, and citizenship.

Those conversations informed the Iowa BIG model, which deliberately takes down content silos and removes barriers between school and community. Having stakeholders in on the conversations from the beginning has garnered broad support for bringing innovative ideas into public education.
Find the sweet spot for collaboration. “The new curriculum is community,” explains Miller. “Our community has enough problems and opportunities for students to have an endless number of things to do.”

Read the full article at its source:

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