Living in Beta: New Advisory Program Helps Teens Learn With Purpose

Living In Beta

What if high school was a place, a community, that equipped you to fully express yourself with confidence? What if high school helped you pursue your passions and live and learn with purpose and intention?

It happens for hundreds of teens every day at One Stone in Boise. The student-driven lab school and after school programs feature hands-on community connected learning experiences. Making it all possible is a relationship with a mentor and an advisory program called Living in Beta.

Through a series of short activities, usually in a small group setting, One Stone’s wayfinding program invites students to explore their personal values and passions and discover their purpose.

Living in Beta is based on the One Stone commitment to design thinking and takes inspiration from the popular course and book Designing Your Life by Stanford’s Burnett and Evans.

“To live in beta is to accept the idea that no one is ever complete,” said Chad Carlson, Director of Research & Design. Inspired by iterative “beta testing” of technology applications, the Living in Beta program reflects a belief that “we’re always growing, learning, and adding to ourselves.”

“As we test new ideas, learn from experiences, iterate on who we are, and choose to live with a greater sense of purpose, we are living in beta,” added Carlson.

Living in Beta runs on ThriveCast, an innovative mobile learning application from Arizona State University that makes learning experiences easily accessible via a laptop, computer, or smart-phone and connecting students with their peers and mentors.

Living in Beta moves through cycles of exploration, discovery, purpose, and self-actualization. The program could be as part of a 9th grade advisory curriculum and could be repeated in 11th grade as the learner is developing their postsecondary plans.

The exploration phase moves through a series of activities that help learners identify and explore their passions, interests, curiosities, and skills. Students gain an understanding of how to leverage their unique strengths and talents to make a difference.

In the Discovery stage, learners test out themes within their passions through real-world experiences. They may come to find that interests or expectations were not really their own but imposed by others. They discover the values and interests that are most important in life.

The Purpose stage provides a deep community connected opportunity to explore their passions through meaningful and relevant experiences. They actively design and engage in growth experiences and articulate their purpose in a powerful “WHY” statement and connect their WHY with their personal and professional values.

The Curation of Me is the result of a process of deep reflection. Learners tell their growth story including challenges, successes, and revelations along the way.

“Upon completion of their One Stone experience, students present The Curation of Me, a cumulative portfolio of work and reflection of growth. Their stories are heartwarming, deeply emotional, and powerful. Each presentation is unique, but they are all filled with pride, gratitude, hope, and vulnerability. The Curation of Me is the ultimate display of student voice,” said Teresa Poppen, One Stone Executive Director.

Listen to learner Chloe French’s video about her Curation of Me for a firsthand account of how the work of Living in Beta influenced her. She was able to work through the challenges of a traumatic brain injury, feel supported and find value in her community.

Pilot Living in Beta

One Stone recently opened a Request for Application for a pilot of the Living in Beta program.

Starting in January 2021, five schools or youth-serving organizations will receive the opportunity to participate in a six-month free pilot program of Living in Beta. Each pilot site should have at least 12 participating learners. One or two advisory groups or a class of 20-30 students would provide adequate representation. Mentors will receive valuable orientation and support during the pilot program.

Check this out to learn more about piloting Living in Beta.

For more on One Stone, see:

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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1 Comment


"They discover the values and interests that are most important in life." That's great as long as those values and interests help sustain and enrich their lives, the lives of others and the planet. Those students also need to develop the necessary and sufficient critical thinking skills that will help them determine fact from fiction, reality from fantasy and pursue their dreams with passion and purpose beyond themselves. There are values and interests contrary to positive and constructive behaviors and students are capable of understanding the conflicts between different sets of values.

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