The following represents the vision of student school life in action:
All students attend Monroe Christian High School five days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. for a full day of learning. A typical high school student – let’s call her Melinda – arrives at school just before 8:30 am for the day. She greets the principal and her teachers, sees some friends talking about last night’s TV show and finds her spot at a table in the learning commons area where she does her best work. Melinda pulls her laptop out of her backpack and logs in to review the class schedule and any announcements for the day. She checks to see if she has any new email messages from her teachers. She sees that her online science teacher scored the environmental science lab report that she submitted last Friday. She quickly clicks on the course Grade Book to check her overall course progress and is excited to see that her score is going up.
Melinda’s day officially starts with a brief advisory meeting led by her advisory teacher. This meeting includes school announcements and some sharing time among classmates.
The advisory includes opportunities for Melinda and her classmates to think about the skills necessary for academic success. Today’s discussion addresses “college readiness.” Melinda’s portfolio task is to consider her own skill development in relation to her personal learning plan and what colleges are looking for in new admits. In what areas does she still need to grow?
During the next learning session, which usually lasts 60 minutes, Melinda stays in the learning commons area to continue with her online Spanish and Environmental Science classes. She gets to choose which online classes to do when – and which ones she would rather work on later at home on any given day. Melinda knows that her teachers have access to a learning management dashboard that indicates how often she is logging on to her courses, how long she is persisting in the work, and how she is progressing through the class.
At 11:00 it is time for Melinda to attend a learning seminar for her class on social justice, so she grabs her laptop and books to go to the learning seminar classroom. The objective of today’s session is “practicing empathy.” This is a topic that she has been discussing with her friends for the last few days. Her teacher reviews some interesting insights with the class and then asks the students to begin working in small groups to develop a workshop for the Junior High students of the school. Clarification and a goal-setting exercise for the project ends the learning session time.
After the learning session, Melinda and a few of her classmates head out to the learning commons to begin some research on this project. They have been assigned the 6th grade class and are considering developing an age-appropriate video for students to access as a library resource. Together, they begin brainstorming ideas and develop a plan.
At 12:00 Melinda takes out a healthy snack for lunch with her friends. They choose to sit at a table by the window in the sunlight. They tell her that a guest instructor, a local Department of Fisheries scientist, will be coming to school next week to give a special presentation on stream reclamation. This promises to be exciting!
After lunch, Melinda returns to the learning commons with her laptop for some focused time in her International Business class. This was an elective that she had chosen for autumn semester. She had been emailing some ideas for a project with students taking the same course in South Africa and in the Philippines. Melinda really enjoys collaborating with classmates from other high schools around the world that are taking the same online classes. She likes it when the teacher breaks the students into virtual groups for some specific assignments. In fact, they have been wanting to arrange a time to Skype together so they can discuss some final ideas for their project.
Later in the afternoon, Melinda logs on to her math course and completes an assignment to assess concept mastery. She has trouble understanding this particular concept and checks in with a learning coach. Together they review a Khan Academy video about the properties of exponents, and the learning coach confirms Melinda’s understanding.
Melinda’s last class is English, which is a core course on-campus. She has been struggling with the current novel she has been reading and asked her teacher for some help. Her teacher noted that many students are having the same problem and has called an impromptu learning seminar for students to review the elements of irony in the text. That was very helpful!
At 3:10, Melinda packs up her bag and makes a few plans for the evening. Once at home, she will probably have another two hours of school work to complete, including her favorite class, International Business.