Competencies, today I am a believer.

Competency-based initiatives have been around a while now, and to be honest they were sort of something I treated like new math.  I’ve been waiting them out.  They require a design process change, the require policy change, they require change in the machine…

I was never really against them, but I wasn’t really for them either.  Until today.  I sort of had an epiphany really about the disservice we do kids when we focus on credits and course descriptions instead of learning targets and goals for competency.

Part of it is probably that I found I was giving some teachers too much credit, assuming they had the same end goals as I did, and so competency basis was happening anyway.  Instead today I learned that at least some teachers still think they are teaching subject matter that can and should only be assessed once on a specific day in a high stakes manner.  No opportunities for growth and redemption is a punitive system which sows the seeds of hopelessness and fruitless endeavour in our kids.

Competencies offer instead endless hope.  Teaching and reteaching opportunities, and a attitude that outcomes matter over methods.  They offer a way out of a nightmare for our kids who are most at risk.

So now that I get it, really get it, the question is, how can I help get others off the fence?

Bridging the gap- middle school update

This article is a update on an earlier post about a middle school turning credit recovery on it’s head.

I have been so impressed by schools and their creative uses of the materials we originally thought of as for remediation to instead use it as a leg up for students trying to get ahead.  One group recently decided to use the courses as a intensive freshman summer camp by selecting 2 courses students work over one week.  Their goal is to score the highest point total in the most units, for which there are prizes.  The catch – the more lessons they test out of, the more units, but fewer points are earned.  Not testing out means they have to move more slowly and may not get as many units.

Bring Your A Game FHSPrizes include – Getting dibs on the earliest section of driver’s ed, a parking space, choice of locker, $50 gift cards to local shops and restaurants, waved sports fees, and a season pass to all home games.  Students select their preferred prize when they sign up for camp.  The top 3 scores in each prize pool win.  The camp’s name – “Bring your A game.”

Please share your exciting, fun, innovative uses of online learning.