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System-wide H.S. Schedule Nears Reality

The purpose of the Academy Based Learning Standing Committee is: “To collaboratively study academy-based learning, make recommendations to the Superintendent/Cabinet and formulate related communications. Currently focused on high schools with middle school and elementary schools to follow.”
The District defines academy-based learning as an instruction model that “provides a relevant and captivating education for all NCSD students, ensuring they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to compete successfully in a global economy. Academy learning engages our students, teachers, parents, community, industry, and higher education in an authentic and innovative learning environment. This provides students opportunities to become independent lifelong learners, digitally literate, inventive thinkers, effective communicators, highly productive, and healthy stewards. Academy learning gives them a seamless preparation from high school graduation into college and a career.”

On October 9, Kelly Hornby, Executive Director of Curriculum & Instruction, led the meeting and asked for any comments from association representatives. Erica Peterson, an NCEA rep from Dean Morgan Junior High offered the lone comment. She told the committee that she hasn’t heard anything regarding academy-based learning, positive or negative at her school. Hornby said that soon, representatives from the middle school level will be more involved.

KWHS Principal Brad Diller and NCHS Principal Dean Kelly reported on their visit to the Omaha Westside school district, where they were observing a system-wide high school schedule. The schedule at that district featured 14 flexible blocks of time, which can be broken into large, small, or lab groups. The schedule allowed for more individual time between teachers and students. Kelly stated during the presentation that this type of schedule, with built-in flexibility would work well for an academy system. Kelly also stated that this type of schedule is a very student-friendly schedule.

With a focus on the following six criteria for developing a system-wide schedule the group then began discussions regarding our own scheduling needs:

  • Schedule accounts for students needing concurrent and dual enrollment courses.
  • Collaboration time is available for academic departments, academies, and between schools.
  • Schedule is flexible (activities & jobs), allows for combined blocks for different course lengths, possible to offer early or extended day courses, and opportunity for integrated curriculum.
  • Schedule has a focus on academy learning – engagement time included for internships/ job shadow/ work study/ partnerships/ and capstones.
  • Schedule provides opportunity for proactive and reactive intervention/acceleration for all students. (Example, ZAP programs)
  • Select a schedule that minimizes travel, transitions, and provides efficient movement of students and teachers. (Attention to resources and purity).

To begin the discussion, two of the academy coaches (Molly Voris and Patti Kimble) presented the pros and cons of each of the three system-wide schedule options that the committee is analyzing. After Voris went through the three schedules she shared with the group that the coaches prefer the “Schedule #1” option. (See image.)

Schedule 1

This schedule has components of both block and module schedules. The schedule offers opportunities for collaboration time, larger blocks of time for integrated academy-style learning, and time for student intervention periods. The module portion of the schedule allows for flexible chunks of time that can be flexed or arranged within the block schedule.

The committee then split into groups to discuss and possibly prioritize a schedule. After discussion, all of the three different groups were in favor of “Schedule 1” with the Omaha Westside-style modular blocks. Members of the committee will report on their scheduling work, including the “Schedule 1” consensus, during the Board of Trustees Work Session on October 14.

The next work will focus on sharing the proposed schedule, including the rationale behind why the particular schedule was pushed to the front. This work includes communication to teachers, a study of the impact to students, a look at staffing needs, a look at collaboration across all grade levels (K-12), and a drafting of formal communications of the work that has been done. Operational components of the schedule will also be discussed soon.

 Attendance: NCASE: Chad Sharpe, Danna Anderson, Kent Thompson, Kathy Neely, Brad Diller, Valerie Braughton, Amy Rose, Ralph Obray, Shawna Trujillo, Chris Tobin, Dean Kelly, Nicole Rapp, Scott Winter; NCEA: Patti Kimble, Jennifer Leimback, Erica Peterson; HR Division: Verba Echols; C&I Division: Kelly Hornby, Cheryl Gettings, Molly Voris, Mance Hurley; Communications: Allen Bruggman; Recorder: Sarah Prosinski



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This entry was posted on October 10, 2013 by in In Focus.

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