Virtual School Meanderings

December 8, 2019

Sharing Pathways To Personalization In Scottsdale

A weekly newsletter from a US-based blended learning organization.

Highlander Institute

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Sharing Pathways to Personalization in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Thank You for your Giving Tuesday donations!
  • EduvateRI releases partner stakeholder videos
  • Seeking: NYC Project Lead/Educational Strategies Specialist
  • Congratulations to Forbes 30 Under 30 winners Kiara Butler & Octavia Abell
  • CYCLE is hiring for 2 new roles

Sharing Pathways to Personalization in Arizona

This week, our Chief Education Officer Shawn Rubin traveled to Scottsdale, Arizona for the Renaissance Advisory Board meeting. While there, Shawn delivered a keynote presentation and led a Q&A discussion focused on our Pathways to Personalization framework for school change. Thank you to this incredible group of thoughtful district leaders doing their best to create rigorous and humanizing learning experiences for students!

Season of Giving

Thank you to everyone who donated to Highlander Institute this week as part of #GivingTuesday. Our work would not be possible without the committed community of educators, students, families, partner organizations, and friends who consistently offer their support. If you’re interested in helping us improve educator and system capacity to provide personalized experiences for every learner, there’s still time to contribute. Click the button below for more information.

Dana Borrelli-Murray Featured in EduvateRI Partner Video Series

Our Executive Director Dana Borrelli-Murray is one of the community partners featured in a new series of short interview clips on the EduvateRI website. EduvateRI, the state’s education innovation cluster, brings a diverse set of stakeholders together to network, surface, and solve persistent problems in education. Wicked problems require system solutions, so we know this is an ecosystem effort. To learn more, click the button below.

Highlander Institute is seeking a NYC-based educator to lead school change efforts at two schools. If you are passionate about empowering students and leveling the playing field for all learners, we want you on our team. We are seeking a leader who has a vision for what liberatory classroom practices, assessment, and curriculum can and should look like in any classroom.

The NYC Project Lead-Educational Strategies Specialist is responsible for supporting classroom, building, and district level educators in the planning, design, and implementation of high quality, culturally responsive personalization efforts through the Institute’s Pathway Schools redesign process.

To apply, please send resume and cover letter to Kaiya Letherer, Chief of Staff, at kletherer@highlanderinstitute.org

From Other Organizations

Kiara Butler & Octavia Abell Named to 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Lists

Kiara Butler of Diversity Talks has been named to the Education list! Congratulations on this achievement and all of the work you and your staff have done to facilitate critical conversations about cultural responsiveness, race, and equity among educators in our state.

Congratulations to Octavia Abell, co-founder of Govern for America, on your inclusion in the list focused on Law & Policy! Octavia, a former colleague at the RI Innovation Office, project managed the CS4RI initiative. Now, she and Kyleigh Russ work with partners across the country to increase diversity in public sector jobs.

Now Accepting Applications for 2 New Roles

The Center for Youth & Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE) team at Roger Williams University in Providence continues to grow. There are currently two open positions: 1) OurSchoolsPVD Community Organizer; and 2) Associate Director of Youth Leadership. Each is an exciting new position for people looking to roll up their sleeves for educational equity and social justice.

Candidates with backgrounds in the fields of social justice education, positive youth development, community organizing, movement building work, and/or community-engaged research who are grounded by critiques of structural oppression and dreams of freedom and liberation for oppressed peoples are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications received by December 20, 2019 will be reviewed with priority. Please click below to learn more and share these opportunities with your networks.

December 3, 2019

Support Teaching And Learning This Giving Tuesday!

A #GivingTuesday solicitation from a K-12 blended learning organization.

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Help us improve educator and system capacity to provide personalized experiences for every learner.

Today, 143,000 students will be educated by 14,000 teachers in 332 traditional public, public charter, and state-run schools in Rhode Island. Their experiences will vary greatly. Each day, the inequities of school systems become magnified.

In 2019, Highlander Institute hit a new milestone: we have now worked with every public school district in Rhode Island. Through this work, we saw the following trends:

  • There is a growing disconnect between the traditional school model and the demands and opportunities of the evolving workplace
  • School reform attempts typically produce a few model classrooms but an overwhelming lack of sustained positive change

To counteract the gravity of these trends, Highlander Institute embarked on a long term project across a set of urban elementary schools to increase parent, student, and teacher voice in school improvement efforts. Our goal: establish an ongoing process for the school community to own changemaking.

Recently, a parent of a student in one of our pilot classrooms wrote to us and said “To see such an enthusiastic, engaged, and deeply committed group of 9 and 10-year-olds take ownership of their learning was astonishing.”

Your contribution helps us to provide this “pathway to personalization” framework to schools each day. Please help us as we work to change the way teachers teach and students learn.

We thank you wholeheartedly for joining us on this mission.

Wishing you peace this holiday season,

Dana Borrelli-Murray, Executive Director

John Muggeridge, Board Chair

A non-profit organization based in Providence, RI, Highlander Institute partners with communities to imagine and create schools that are more equitable, relevant, and effective. At its core, Highlander Institute focuses on creating student-centered, personalized learning environments, particularly for historically underserved student populations.

Highlander Institute has provided thousands of hours of embedded coaching supports in hundreds of classrooms across every district in RI as well as MA, NY, IA, NE, NJ, TX, and CA. Last year alone, Highlander Institute supported 621 RI teachers across 81 RI schools, totaling 27,200 students. Last year, 97% of teachers coached by Highlander Institute demonstrated a marked change in their pedagogical practice, resulting in a statistically significant improvement in student interim assessment scores. Most interestingly,  Black, Latino, economically disadvantaged, and ELL students in a pilot group of Highlander Institute-supported classrooms where teachers received minimal coaching still showed more growth than control classrooms in the same district.

November 26, 2019

Giving Thanks

A note from a US-based blended learning organization to finish the day.

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At Highlander Institute, our sustained and scalable efforts for creating more empowered classrooms, adaptive schools, and liberated systems are tied to the hard work and dedication of teachers each day.

Highlander Institute is demonstrating what is possible when stakeholders of school communities thoughtfully set their own agendas, continuously leverage evaluation data to course-correct, and scale best practice demonstrated through educators elevated by their own growth to the role of lead change agents at their school and district.

On behalf of the entire Highlander Institute family, we thank the educators:  it is with you that we will create equitable and effective educational systems for all students. 

Dana Borrelli-Murray, Executive Director

A non-profit organization based in Providence, R.I., Highlander Institute partners with communities to imagine and create schools that are more equitable, relevant, and effective.   At its core, Highlander Institute focuses on creating student-centered, personalized learning environments, particularly for historically underserved student populations.

The Highlander Institute has provided thousands of hours of embedded coaching supports in hundreds of classrooms across every district in RI as well as MA, NY, IA, NE, NJ, TX and CA. Last year alone,  the Highlander Institute supported 621 RI teachers across 81 RI schools, totaling 27,200 students. Last year, 97% of teachers coached by Highlander Institute demonstrated a marked change in their pedagogical practice, resulting in a statistically significant improvement in student interim assessment scores. Most interestingly,  Black, Latino, economically disadvantaged, and ELL students in a pilot group of Highlander Institute-supported classrooms where teachers received minimal coaching still showed more growth than the control classrooms in the same district.

November 23, 2019

We’re Hiring!

An item from this US-based K-12 blended learning organization.

Highlander Institute

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Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • We’re hiring a NYC Project Lead for our Educational Strategies Specialist team
  • Spotlight on our Culturally Responsive Teaching working group
  • Personalization 2020 promo video
  • From RIDE & PPSD: multiple ways for parents & community members to get involved
  • Save the Date! Achieving Excellence, Together educator conference on March 21

Starting in January 2020, we will embark on a multiyear project with two NYC schools committed to designing and implementing through a new model of change management that emphasizes continuous improvement as a means to more efficiently and effectively drive personalization efforts for students and families.

Highlander Institute is seeking a NYC-based skilled educator to lead these efforts. If you are passionate about empowering students and leveling the playing field for all learners, we want you on our team. We are seeking a leader who has a vision for what liberatory classroom practices, assessment, and curriculum can and should look like in any classroom.

The NYC Project Lead-Educational Strategies Specialist is responsible for supporting classroom, building, and district level educators in the planning, design, and implementation of high quality, culturally responsive personalization efforts through the Institute’s Pathway Schools redesign process.  This staff member is responsible for leading the school redesign efforts across two NYC schools.

To apply, please send resume and cover letter to Kaiya Letherer, Chief of Staff, at kletherer@highlanderinstitute.org

A Closer Look at Personalization 2020

Culturally Responsive Teaching Working Group November Meeting

On Tuesday, November 19, members of the Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) Working Group gathered at our office for a meeting led by Malika Ali, Melinda Lopez, and Gigi DiBello. This initiative is a partnership between Highlander institute and Providence Public Schools to develop culturally responsive practices and strategies and to build shared learning through collaborative explorations. In addition to group learning, teachers receive classroom-level embedded coaching support. This week’s convening brought together 15 educators from ASF at Broad Street Elementary, Classical High School, Juanita Sanchez, Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School, Mount Pleasant High School, and West Broadway Middle School.

Teachers explored how to build student capacity to carry the cognitive load by evaluating thinking routines for problem-solving. They built structures using a thinking routine and reflected on how they could develop problem-solving strategies in groups, demonstrating a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. The big idea was to disrupt the “banking model of education”, showing that the teacher’s role is to bridge students’ prior knowledge and interest about a topic to new knowledge. The team then reflected on how to apply these concepts of constructivism to teachers’ own content areas, asking “How do you introduce thinking routines with low-stakes tasks and then apply these same strategies to standards-aligned lessons?” These activities and conversations were facilitated through our Culturally Responsive Teaching Framework.

From Other Organizations

Last Call for Community Design Team Nominations

Today is the last day to nominate someone to participate in a Community Design Team (CDT). RIDE is looking for parents, students, and community leaders to join one of the teams that will help design the Providence Schools Turnaround Plan. For more information about these CDTs, go to www.4pvdkids.com/engagement. Best of luck to all of our nominees. We look forward to working with you.

Rhode Island Parent Advisory Committee

For parents of students across the state, RIDE is seeking parents and families to join our monthly statewide meeting with Commissioner Infante-Green. These meetings are a great opportunity to share your experiences and challenges with the commissioner to help inform education policy. Please mark your calendars for Monday, November 25 from 5:00 – 6:30pm for the upcoming Statewide Parent Advisory Committee. The meeting will be held at RIDE, 255 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903, and parking validation will be available at the RI Convention Center South and North garages. We had a very productive first meeting last month, and we are excited to see you all again.

Seeking Community Advisory Board Members

Chris Sanacore, Innovation Specialist at the Providence Public School District, is seeking community members, students, and parents to work with principals and district staff to create school improvement plans for historically underserved schools. You can find more information and session dates on the website. The deadline is Friday, December 6, but feel free to reach out to Chris directly at Christopher.Sanacore@ppsd.org if you’d like to connect with him in-person or would like him to give a presentation on school improvement work. He’s also happy to answer questions and receive your input.

November 16, 2019

Spotlight On Quabbin Regional School District

An item from a US-based blended learning organization.

Highlander Institute

No Images? Click here

Join the conversation as we partner with communities to design and implement school-based change.

In This Week’s Issue

  • Spotlight on our partnership with Quabbin Regional School District
  • Purchase tickets to our Personalization 2020 Conference
  • Check out Promise54’s newly released DEI in Action case studies
  • Submit your event for Remake Learning Days Across America

Spotlight on Quabbin Regional School District

This week, Melinda Lopez and Kara O’Connell from our Implementation Team facilitated a full day of design activities at Quabbin School District in Barre, Massachusetts. This professional development is part of our larger partnership with the district, with 6 schools taking part in district-wide design work to create a guiding vision and priority practices. There are 22 teachers taking part in the pilot phase, which will focus on rigor and mastery with students. Thank you to the entire Quabbin team for your engagement, curiosity, and enthusiasm!

Registration Open

Our Personalization 2020 Conference is coming up on April 2-4, 2020. Join us in Providence for 3 days of learning – from site visits, to workshops, to symposium sessions. Early-bird pricing is available before February 1. Save an extra $50 when you purchase a 3-day ticket bundle.

From Other Organizations

DEI in Action Case Studies

We are excited to announce that DEI in Action: A Radically Human Approach to Case Studies is now live! We hope this resource serves as a valuable learning tool for the sector as we explore the complex, challenging, rewarding, and ultimately human process of engaging in DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) work.

These are not the case studies you’re used to. Check out “DEI in Action,” Promise54’s new series that follows Blue Engine, College Track, and TNTP’s multi-year efforts to deepen their organizational commitments to – and actions around – diversity, inclusion, and equity. These stories are a radically human alternative to the run-of-the-mill case study, reflecting the messy reality of progress made and missteps along the way.

Remake Learning Days Across America: Seeking Rhode Island Pop-Up Events 

Remake Learning Days Across America (RLDAA) is a learning festival that celebrates the many learning opportunities in a community. This celebration highlights innovative experiences and opportunities for youth to develop their sense of creativity, perseverance and curiosity. A variety of organizations — such as schools, museums, libraries, after school organizations, early child care centers, universities, media centers, tech startups and more — open their doors and host events for families to learn together.

Organizations in Rhode Island with events happening April 23 – May 23, 2020 can participate in RLDAA by submitting their hands-on learning family-friendly events to the RLD website as a Pop-up Event. Click below for more information.

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