Carla’s Curriculum

Carla’s Curriculum

Let’s talk about a student named Carla. Carla is currently a sophomore. Carla lives in the Bronx and goes to high
school near her. She has always had a love of technology. She was constantly asking for the latest video
game for Christmas, for her birthday. Carla’s day starts early. She’s at school by 7:30 every morning. She goes through a series of six-hour long
courses with a lunch break in the middle of her day. Teachers for the most part, are giving a lecture,
assigning homework, and Carla’s able to complete that homework in sort of free time at the
end of class. Anyone? Anyone? Carla is doing fine in school, but school
is something that is something to be gotten through. She has very little desire to go to college. Right now, she’s hoping maybe she can get
into a retail job doing something that is in and around electronics. So let’s back up a little bit. Let’s instead, think about a different sort
of education model. Beginning in middle school, students were
asked two to three times during the year, to take on a project and identify something
that they wanted to work on. So Carla decided to participate in that. The school had developed a program where they
had connected to a number of the tech firms in New York City, they had developed a project-based
coding program. That was the best part of Carla’s middle school,
and so she worked with her family to choose a high school that was organized around experience-based learning. So when we look at the five days that Carla
has in high school, she spends two of those days actually onsite working with a technology
firm. In terms of her core skills and making sure
that she’s got the range of things that she’d need both to continue in that work and also
be ready for college, the school has an individualized curriculum. What that looks like is students working through
their work, grouped into subject areas with teachers acting as coaches. She spends a day and-a-half doing that and
then we’ve got about a day and-a-half left, and that’s where she engages in a series of
projects with individual students where they are in the school working in a project-based
way to actually get that deeper learning. In this school and in this work, feedback
is a very consistent, so when Carla gets back a paper, she’s not getting a grade, instead
what she’s getting is thoughtful feedback on where she still needs to improve. So she knows what she’s going after, she understands
what it is that she’s doing well and then she works with the teacher in an area that
she still needs to develop. What the report card looks like is a growing
portfolio, that shows the sorts of work she’s done to actually demonstrate that she has
achieved each of those skills. As she is considering post-secondary options,
she, frankly, is hoping that she can continue an internship with a couple of the firms that
she has been talking to. She is no longer intimidated or sees that
as something that other folks do. For Carla, school has gone from being something
she needs to get through to something that’s really allowing her to deeply pursue her deepest
passion and is transforming her vision for what life after high school looks like.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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