I spent a day with the NYC iSchool co-principals thinking about a middle school design. Not surprisingly, we decided it should look at lot like iSchool: engaging integrated projects with individualized online learning. Other design elements we discussed included:
· A month long ‘welcome to middle school’ block emphasizing study skills, organization, project management, and working in teams
· Ungraded divisions with gateway performance demonstration gateways
· Less time online than upper secondary with a more structured day
· Long day with before/after school supervision/activities from 7am to 6pm
· Four 10 week quarters with two week breaks that include extra time/targeted assistance and enrichment (192+20 days)
· An Advisory session that meet at least twice a week with a structured curriculum and time for 1:1 progress checks
· 1:1 access to a combination of thin client netbooks and desktops at school and a desire to use iTouch as soon as apps develop (we discussed a 24/7 1:1 program but expressed concerns about safety/security)
Because iSchool blends projects with online learning and gives students a variety of choices, it presents the most complex scheduling challenge I’ve ever run into. They need a powerful and flexible ERP package and a couple computer science grad students to figure it out.
I really appreciate education pioneers like Mary and Alisa that are figuring out what the future looks like for the rest of us.