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Future of Learning
A newsletter from The Hechinger Report
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Dear Reader,
Today is the second day in our three-day national fundraising campaign for nonprofit journalism in response to the coronavirus crisis. This week also marks Hechinger’s 10th anniversary and we hope to raise $10,000 to continue our essential reporting during these challenging times. And so I am asking for your help.
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Tara García Mathewson

By Tara García Mathewson
When Classical Academy High School Personalized Learning Campus had to close because of the coronavirus, students and teachers alike were largely ready to transition to full-time, remote learning.
“We’ve been training for this for so long, not knowing this type of event was going to happen,” said Stacey Perez, the charter school’s principal.
Classical Academy High School serves 400 students from 33 cities in Southern California. Even during normal times, students don’t come into the school building every day. All students create their own schedules when they enroll. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, teachers offer workshops, and on Fridays they hold office hours. When students aren’t meeting with their teachers directly, many of them work from home.
For the last two years, Classical Academy High School has used the Summit Learning Program’s model, which includes a raft of online materials in English, math, social studies and science housed in the Summit Learning Platform. The model also prioritizes teacher-student relationships through mentoring and emphasizes student empowerment and self-direction: students set their own learning goals and work through academic content at their own pace.
Summit’s model and Classical’s blended learning setup combined to make the high school one of the few nationwide that could make a fairly smooth transition to schooling under quarantine.
Nicki Chase, whose daughter is a junior at Classical Academy High School in Escondido, California, has been amazed by the smooth transition. Chase said that her daughter has capitalized on the self-directed learning skills she has been practicing through Summit for years. Even without direct instruction from teachers, she knew how to start a new lesson on her own, take a diagnostic assessment to get a sense of her strengths and weaknesses, click through the learning materials to learn more about the topic, take notes along the way, reach out to peers as a first stop for help and communicate with a teacher through the platform when necessary, Chase said.
Chase’s home has internet access and enough computers to go around, so her daughter has also been able to join video conference sessions with her teachers and classmates when they’re offered. Her daughter’s mentor has checked in multiple times to make sure she is staying on track.
“I’m not worried there’s going to be a gap in her learning,” Chase said. “It’s really amazing as a parent to get to know that that part is covered.” 
About 400 schools use Summit around the country and there has been a good deal of diversity in their readiness to teach remotely. While Summit has prepackaged learning materials that students can access online, the model emphasizes screen-free class periods heavy on student collaboration and direct support from teachers. But students in Summit schools are at least familiar with online learning and the platform itself is accessible from any device with an internet connection, so signing in from home is a viable option. And the relationships developed through Summit’s focus on mentoring have helped schools keep track of students after their buildings closed.
I spent the last year learning everything I could about the Summit model, its strengths and weaknesses, the challenges of implementation and the reasons why some schools see such success with the model and some don’t. Interested in what I found out?
Read the in-depth story.
And let me know what you think!
Send story ideas and news tips to Tweet at @TaraGarciaM. Read high-quality news about innovation and inequality in education at The Hechinger Report. And, here’s a list of the latest news and trends in the future of learning.
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The Shortlist 
  1. 1. Steps for schools this year and beyond. KnowledgeWorks and Transcend, two organizations that support education innovation, have released reports offering advice for long-term responses to the coronavirus. The KnowledgeWorks report, “Restoring hope and seizing opportunity in the face of crisis,” includes state policy recommendations that have to do with student supports, human capital and infrastructure, evidence of learning, and system accountability, all geared toward helping school systems better weather future crises, improve services and expand educational equity. Trancend’s report, “Responding, Recovering, Reinventing,” offers schools and districts a guide to avoid returning to the status quo once buildings reopen.
    2. More resources for remote learning. PBLWorks has a new guide for educators interested in facilitating project-based learning while school buildings are closed. It has project ideas, program and app recommendations vetted by teachers, an overview of best practices for remote project-based learning, and ideas for making projects accessible to all students. The Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University released a free suite of literacy activities in American Sign Language. Faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are curating curriculum ideas and professional development resources for teachers through their LearnAway website. And LEAP Innovations is starting a free, six-week remote learning seminar series today with sessions every Wednesday through June 10. Read about the seminar topics and register here.
    3. The promise and peril of AI for schools. The Consortium for School Networking has a new report about artificial intelligence in schools, explaining where AI already exists, outlining three areas of concern for AI use and expansion, and identifying AI’s real potential for education. The three areas of concern are student privacy, bias in the underlying algorithms that power artificial intelligence and a lack of algorithmic literacy among administrators, teachers and students who may need to challenge AI in the future. CoSN identifies AI’s key potential to be as a tool to enhance the work of great teachers (rather than replacing them) and create new learning opportunities for students that specifically take advantage of human relationships. Read the full report here.
    4. The case for more experiential learning. Uncharted Learning, a nonprofit that runs student entrepreneurship programs, connects the types of real-world learning experiences it facilitates to student motivation to be lifelong learners and innovators in a new report. “Learning with a purpose: preparing today’s students to navigate an increasingly ambiguous future,” profiles entrepreneurship programs at Uncharted Learning’s partner schools around the country and outlines an opportunity in the Every Student Succeeds Act to expand programs like them.
More on the Future of Learning 
Why are some kids thriving during remote learning?” Edutopia
How 3 techniques from cognitive psychology reinvigorated my math classroom,” EdSurge
Distance learning: Let’s not reinvent the wheel,” The Clayton Christensen Institute
Survey: Teachers favor moving on to next year's content in the fall,” Education Dive
Radical connectivity: a potential big win for educators from COVID-19,” Next Generation Learning Challenges
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