Transform Middle Grade Education–Apply to Summit Basecamp

Summit Public School, a small secondary school network in the Bay Area, is doing the most important and innovative work in the country. Using lean startup strategies, the talented Summit team is iterating on their school model and their platform–combining organization design and technology development (OD+IT) and using new tools to leverage great teaching and improve the learning (and teaching) experience.
In a detailed model description Alex Hernandez said, “Students are responsible for independently mastering basic content, freeing up teachers to spend class time on projects and other tasks that promote deeper learning.” The model is based on four core ideas:

  • To succeed in college and in life, students must be self-directed learners.
  • In addition to basic content knowledge, students need to develop high-level cognitive skills like inquiry, listening and analysis.
  • Students should have personalized learning paths so they can learn content at their own pace and in ways that work best for them.
  • Teachers have the most impact by leading interdisciplinary projects and other rich performance tasks that help students weave together content knowledge and high-level cognitive skills.

What makes the Summit approach the most innovative in the country is the way they use personalized digital playlists to prepare for challenging projects. Summit’s Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) software is the learner interface that tracks progress and launches playlists. When a student clicks on a content knowledge standard, the PLP launches a playlist including a diagnostic assessment, digital resources, practice opportunities, and a final assessment.
The PLP is currently powered by Illuminate Education for on-demand assessmentsActivate Instruction for playlists and ShowEvidence for projects. Summit is committed to making all their resources freely available.
Apply to Basecamp. Summit has invited teams of teachers with students 6-9 grade to apply to be be part of the Basecamp Program which provides training, technology and other support to a small set of schools across the United States, enabling them to learn, launch and improve core aspects of next-generation classrooms for the 2015-2016 school year.
As part of the Basecamp Program, schools will participate in a comprehensive and rigorous 2-week training program (Summer of Summit) where they will have the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of next gen learning, create next gen classrooms, and join a like-minded community of educators. Schools will receive individualized support throughout the 2015-2016 school year.
Thanks to ongoing support from a handful of engineers at Facebook, Summit has been able to dramatically improve the PLP and schools participating in Basecamp will now be able to customize it for their specific needs.
Summit is not limiting their pool geographically but applying schools should have a focus on project-based and self-directed learning, a 1:1 environment (or plan to get there), and a supportive administration.
This is the most important work being done in secondary education today–and you could be part of it by applying to the Summit Basecamp Program.
For more on Summit, see the Getting Smart features:

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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