Summit's Innovation project has two main components: conversion of the school library into a Self -Directed Learning Center and transformation of traditional classroom spaces into learning communities. Under the new vision, the library has been reimagined with attention to large and small group instruction zones, reading areas, distribution of personal technology devices throughout the space, reading/quiet study zones, collaboration spaces, and use of innovative furniture to support many learner styles. The learning communities provide a variety of pedagogical benefits which will improve teaching and learning. The project aligns with two of BVSD's Innovation Guiding Principles: "Learning is Personalized and Learner Led" and "Learning is a Social Process."

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Project Description

To develop the school's project, staff worked together to develop responses to the following guiding questions. 

1. Briefly describe the project that you plan to implement with your Innovation Funds.

Summit is transforming our school library into a Self -Directed Learning Center. This effort began in the spring of 2014 in collaboration with FNI in response to research into current designs and practices for 21st century media centers.  Research shows that libraries that transform to include media, learning, presentation, technology-rich, and collaboration-welcoming learning spaces are increasing student achievement and engagement.  At Summit, our library was created with traditional approaches to book storage and study areas.  Under our new vision, we are recreating the space with attention to large and small group instruction zones, reading areas, distribution of personal technology devices throughout the space, reading/quiet study zones, collaboration spaces, and use of innovative furniture to support many learner styles.  Our media specialist coordinates resource needs for teachers as well as collaborates with teachers, co-teaches lessons on technology tools, and facilitates student work and learning in the center. Attached to this proposal are two documents showing the library transformation concept including the library furniture.

Summit is transforming traditional classroom spaces into learning communities by affinity groupings: math/science, English/social studies, creation/innovation/gathering, and world language. The learning communities provide a variety of pedagogical benefits which will improve teaching and learning at Summit. The design also allows for structural benefits such as mitigating crowded hallways, dispersing lockers, increasing visual site lines for supervision, increasing teacher collaboration and cross-curricular learning and enhancing community connections.  Attached are documents showing our learning community design, our schematic design proposal and our final concept internal and external renderings.

2. How will you involve stakeholders in the decision-making process concerning the use of the innovation funds for your site?  

In collaboration with FNI, we have worked to involve stakeholders in decision-making through our formal Discovery Process, committee meetings, faculty focus groups, and work sessions as well as our collaborative DAT process. 

In our library transformation we have worked closely with the stakeholders most directly connected to the library and with all faculty who utilize the library. Students participated in focus groups and design sessions last spring.  In addition, students are being surveyed for input on learning zone spaces, furniture choices, and additional programming in the library.  Students are also involved in self-assessment of their growth in skills and work habits.  In our learning community design, we consulted our DAT as well as all teachers and administrators. Teachers were involved in numerous planning sessions regarding both physical space and instructional practices. Curricular mapping sessions and collaboration learning continue through this year to assist with teacher input and innovations in lesson and unit designs to maximize the space.

3. How does your project support The Success Effect? (BVSD's Strategic Plan-Mission/Vision/Goals)

As a charter school, our plan supports the Summit Mission and Strategic Plan. The library supports our rigorous academic program and provides a high-quality center for self-directed learning. Students learn and practice habits of scholarship in the library which will support success in all academic endeavors. The learning communities seek to enhance scholarly collaboration within and across core departments by utilizing affinity groupings rather than grade-level groupings. We are also greatly enhancing instructional opportunities in each learning community by providing access to a wider variety of learning zones to implement diverse and high-effecting instructional practices and to reinforce the learning opportunities that arise with our 1:1 setting.  We are designing and implementing teacher effectiveness training on instructional strategies such as visual learning modalities, use of rigor in the classroom, technology-enhanced lesson design, multi-media presentations, student input and technology-response systems, cross-curricular connections and growth mindset practices in our curricular mapping processes.

4. Review the Innovation Guiding Principles and discuss with your stakeholders. How will your project align to one or more of the guiding principles?

Learning is personalized and learner-led in our transformed self-directed learning center. Students advocate for their unique learning styles and needs. Students select challenging content and activities in order to stretch their skills. Teachers provide structure and guidance when needed.

In learning communities, learning is a social process. Students work respectfully, collaboratively, and effectively to meet instructional objectives. Teachers collaborate on activities with colleagues to improve collegiality and student learning conditions through shared decision making, ideas to improve teaching and learning, as well as by contributing to school goals.

5. Determine what your learning outcomes are for your innovation. What will happen as a result of this innovation?

Students will master competencies for self-directed learning as measured by our self-directed learning rubric. Student self-directed learning competency will improve outcomes in core classes by effective completion of homework, projects and assessment. Self-directed learning will be enhanced through the learning environment by learning zones, peer-to-peer interactions, new furniture, and student-to-teacher interactions. We expect to see student achievement rise, as indicated by classroom-based assessments and standardized tests.  In addition, we expect to see a rise in our habits of scholarship outcomes such as an increase in the non-cognitive skills in work ethic, student agency, responsibility, independence, and commitment to quality work.  Our innovative space provides opportunities for adult mentors (para-educators, student teachers, high school tutors, and others) to model and support students as they gain these skills.

In our learning communities, students will enjoy safer and smoother transitions throughout the building, better locker access zones, and a more scholarly, developmentally appropriate middle school learning environment. Students will experience a greater variety of learning modalities in their core classes as afforded through learning community structures including common space and learning studio space. These learning modalities will demonstrate advanced 21stcentury learner structures, such as technology-enriched collaborative learning structures, student-led demonstrations and critiques of learning, relevant and meaningful community interaction in student learning, performance-based assessments, and independent learning.

6. Determine how you will measure the progress towards and achievement of your learning outcome. What is your plan for gathering data to show that the change is positively impacting learning at your site?

For the library, we will be collecting feedback through:

   1) Student and teacher self-directed learning assessments
   2) Student and teacher surveys
   3) Student academic achievement in core subjects
   4) Focus group feedback from students and teachers
   5) Librarian input and feedback on use of collaborative space and co-teaching with Summit faculty

Our measurement of progress and achievement of learning outcomes for our learning communities will be collected in similar ways (student, parent and teacher surveys, evaluations of student achievement in coursework, and focus group input).  In addition, we will be looking at teacher effectiveness and growth in instructional practices that will be required in the new space.  We will have teacher growth goals in areas such as cross-curricular learning models, student-directed and problem/project-based learning designs, varied, meaningful and “real-world” assessment practices, and student improvements in self-direction, quality work and habits of scholarship.
In addition to quantitative data, your plan may include: anecdotal or narrative data, survey data, observations, etc.

We continue to reflect on changes that are arising from our Self-Directed Learning space in conversations and exchanges at our team and department meetings, professional development sessions, and faculty meeting time.  In addition, students will be collecting data and writing about the changes and perceptions in our student newspaper.

Throughout the implementation of our new learning communities, we will be collecting anecdotal and narrative measures of growth through our teacher reflective practices, staff and faculty team meetings, input sessions, and post-PD surveys.  We will also be keeping a close eye on professional learning experiences (in and out of house) that our faculty participate in as they grow in these areas. 

7. What professional learning and support might your staff might need in order to reach the desired learning outcomes for the space?

During our collaborative time and professional learning time, we are (and will be) implementing the following learning workshops and support structures:

Indigo Assessment: Faculty input tool used to determine individual motivations and preferences in 21st working skills and strengths.  We are using this tool to build collaborative spirit, self-reflection, goal-setting, and team norms with our faculty.

Interdisciplinary Curricular Planning:  We are mapping curricular practices in nonfiction reading and writing and will continue to create bridges between disciplines, challenging our faculty to find meaningful connections in their unit plans.  We will challenge each grade level team to plan and build cross-curricular units of study for implementation in the 2015-16 school year.

Focus on Academic Excellence:  Workshops to include “What Rigor Looks Like in the Classroom,” “Teaching Talented and Gifted Students,” “Growth Mindset Language and Practices in the Classroom,” “Student-Directed Learning,” and “Visualization in the Classroom,” among other workshops.

Summer Professional Learning: A team of teachers will be attending the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE 2016) conference this summer, with goals to continue to innovate in our technology learning designs.