Project Overview:
Our project has been to design a roll-out for implementing a senior capstone project that will use twenty-first century skills to focus on creativity and innovation, to establish a positive digital footprint to begin their college and later careers. The scope of this project is expected to touch every aspect of teaching and learning at the school. Over time, we hope that every grade level and possibly every course will contribute to building towards this culminating capstone experience in some way. We have already begun to invite faculty into discussions about implementation. The Class of 2011 will begin developing project ideas in May. Teachers and students will read Daniel Pink's Drive over the summer and comment on a blog about their responses to the reading, as well as work together at preparation meetings prior to the opening of school in August 2010. The Pilot Project will be launched for seniors in 2010-2011, combining a Senior Seminar with the senior-level Technology Applications II course. Faculty training will continue throughout the year. Students first projects will be produced in May of 2011 and archived digitally. An 8th-grade mini-project will be developed by middle-school faculty in the fall and implemented in the spring of 2011. Other teachers will be brought into the process as mentors and panel experts, which will pave the way for implementing further developments in the curriculum across all levels and courses in the following two years.

PLP Project: Define the Roll-Out of the Learning Edge Project for our Faculty and Students
1. Video/Trailer (Dale, Jeremy)
-- to be used at PLP presentation, as well as for an introduction to the faculty

2. Create Overview of Project (“Posters” for Display) – Dorothy, Susan
Philosophy (team to define -- see introduction)
Definition of problem (see introduction, condense)
timeline, growing faculty awareness and commitment (Ray, Susan)
outline of pilot project (Susan, Ray, Jeremy)
Research sample projects (Dorothy)

3. Begin to Grow Faculty Awareness and Commitment -- Susan, Ray
  • Planting the seeds: 2/5 Faculty MeetingAsked faculty to think about initial concepts:
    Martin Haberman, "The Pedagogy of Poverty vs. Good Teaching"
    external image pdf.png [[file/view/haberman.pdf|haberman.pdf]]
    Excerpts from students essays on "senioritis" (from Brian's Tech Apps II class)
  • Introduce to faculty via faculty meetings and in-service (see Timeline)

4. Implement Pilot Project (Spring 2010-May 2011)


Promoting Creativity and Innovation as a Focus of 21st Century Learning
Creativity and Innovation as a Means to Stimulate Student Motivation
Using a Digital Portfolio/Archive to Create a Positive Digital Footprint
Quid Pro Quo: Doing Something that Matters, Giving Back, Making a Difference

Defining the Problem

Synopsis: Senioritis is a symptom of a larger problem of student and faculty burn-out caused by a traditional teaching and learning environment where creativity and innovation are stifled. How can we break this cycle?

We have observed that our students are often lethargic, grumpy, and disengaged by the time they are seniors. Some may call this senioritis, but it seems to go beyond the usual itchiness to get beyond high school and start "real life." Chinquapin students, even before they are seniors, get run down from the academic grind on a regular basis. Their days are long and demanding, and they often question why they are making the personal sacrifices that are required of a them. While our students often thrive on the personal connections they make at our school, they do not embrace an academic life. They seem to lose interest in learning for its own sake and often settle for less than they can achieve. Except for a few exceptions, their curiosity and imaginations seem to become stunted the longer they stay at our school. How do we, thus, help our students re-engage with, even experience joy in, learning?

In addition, we realize that as teachers we need to re-evaluate what school is, what it can be, what it should be, in the 21st century. Creativity and innovation are particular qualities that seem to be devalued or overlooked in a traditional college preparatory curriculum. We believe this is truly what preparation for college (and beyond) means: preparation for one's life's work as an individual and as part of a collaborative effort sustained over a period of time.

This project will allow students to rediscover the joy of learning by re-inventing the concept of going to school. Teachers will need to model the behaviors we hope the students will adopt, and they will need to coach students as they find their way. We will need to re-teach the young people at our school how to be learners and how to take charge of their own learning. But we may need to re-teach and re-invent ourselves as well.

For our project, then, we envision creating a blueprint for designing and implementing a curriculum, as well as training our faculty, that we hope will be transformative for our school. The concrete goal will be to establish a capstone project for seniors in which they will produce and present in an authentic setting a substantial work (or body of work). While it may have academic components, this project will not be merely academic in nature. Students will explore mini-projects in middle school, learning how to learn beyond traditional school boundaries and raising expectations for their own efficacy and success. An eighth-grade project will be a primary entrance criteria for admission to the high school. During high school, students will refine their final project topics and undertake research, employ resources outside the school (anywhere in the world, really), use web 2.0 tools to share their work in a transparent way, and build towards a final project that will set them apart from their college preparatory competition -- our students will become leaders on the learning edge. Our ultimate goal for this project is to use the curriculum to change the culture of the school and recapture the joy of learning.

Begin to Grow Faculty Awareness and Commitment -- Susan, Ray
  • Planting the seeds: 2/5 Faculty Meeting, asked faculty to think about initial concepts:

Martin Haberman, "The Pedagogy of Poverty vs. Good Teaching"

Excerpts from students essays on "senioritis" (from Brian's Tech Apps II class)
  • March 26 in-service: video teaser; meet with US teachers (introduction by Jeremy and Susan); discuss ideas for implementation, pilot project
meet with 8th-grade teachers (introduction by Dorothy and Dale); discuss ideas for implementation pilot project

Discussion questions:
What do you think about senioritis?
What do you think about students' low standards and expectations for success?
How could students do more with their presentations (for example, on summer programs)?
How can we avoid having students burn out and tune out?
  • April 26 Professional Development: Faculty Conversations about 21st Century Learning Directed discussion of sample readings (excerpts from Sir Ken Robinson, The Element; Daniel H. Pink, Drive; Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, etc.)
    March 2010

    Goal: Awareness that this is an important issue for the school and that many people are going to begin looking at it.
    READ as a faculty: The Lost Opportunity of Senior Year: Finding a Better Way
  • June faculty meetings
All- school discussion of Pilot Project "senior capstone demonstration of learning" and 8th-grade mini-project
Introductory training and support of faculty mentors
Junior class presents "their idea" for pilot implementation of "senior year project." Tie the project to a earlier ending of classes for seniors e.g. May 14th (or after last AP Exam). Cannot graduate without completion of the project.

Timeline: Waves of Implementation
  • PLP Project Planning (Jan.-Mar. 2010)
  • Growing Buy-In from Faculty and Students
    • March 26th faculty meeting: presentation of PLP project and video
      • Description of PLP project year; video; discussion: "Is a love of learning alive and well at Chinquapin?"; overview of pilot project
    • April 26 faculty in-service:
      • discuss as a faculty: The Lost Opportunity of Senior Year: Finding a Better Way
      • watch: "No Future Left Behind" or TED Talk by Adora Svitak
      • discussion of senior culminating project: What do you think about senioritis? What do you think about our students' sometimes mediocre standards and expectations for success? How could students do more with their presentations (for example, on summer programs)? How can we avoid having students burn out and tune out? What would make such presentations meaningful for our students? Should students finalize projects after last AP exam and graduate earlier? Should the project be a graduation requirement?
      • presentations by PLP team members on the most powerful take-away from the PLP year (teasers for workshops during the August presentations). For example, Susan: blogging with students; Dorothy: letting go of the reins. Workshops to be repeated at fall in-service on Oct. 22.
    • Junior leadership retreat (May 7)
      • introduction of Pilot Project to students;
      • students begin developing ideas for their projects
    • Summer 2010
      • June faculty meetings: Move PLP teasers here? introduce summer reading assignments
      • Faculty to read Daniel Pink's Drive (along with the seniors) over the summer, participate in senior blog on Drive
    • August 2010 In-service Faculty Meetings
      • Faculty Retreat (August 9 or 13?): faculty to discuss Drive and brainstorm ways to implement Pilot Project
      • Senior Day during faculty in-service meetings: students field questions from faculty and state problems for research, choose faculty coaches
      • PLP Presentations on "best take-away" from project; hands-on work with faculty
      • FedEx Day for faculty to demonstrate autonomy, mastery, and purpose
      • may springboard from PLP presentations or take off in a new direction; 10-minute presentations after 24 hours
  • Implement Pilot Project for 2010-2011 (Senior Seminar + Technology Applications II)
  • Ongoing training
    • "Power" Meetings to Assess, Discuss, and Re-Charge Throughout the Year
    • Fall Faculty In-service (Oct. 22)
      • Repeat of PLP Presentations; faculty to choose a different workshop
  • Design 8th-grade mini-project (Dorothy, Dale and other 8th-grade teachers)
  • Alumnae survey
  • Incorporate into 10-year plan
  • Spring 2011
    • Senior Project week (May 7-14): students working independently on presentations
    • Graduation Week: best presentations on display before awards/graduation ceremonies. Tie best in show to scholarship awards from the school.
  • Post-assessment of Y1 projects, assessment of implementation
  • Year 2: Add 9th, 11th and 7th grade components; revise and improve others
  • Year 3: Add 10th and 6th grade components; revise and improve others

More readings:
Sir Ken Robinson, The Element
Here Comes Everybody, Outliers, or Flow.

Crazy Ideas Worth Considering:
Can seniors have their own schedule? (Autonomy – see Daniel Pink, Drive)
PLP and interns? Present the book? Use to ask questions about teaching and learning of the pros?

Research/Sample Programs

Laura Deisley, Architecture of Ideas. Blog. "Student Researchers: Looking for Authentic Audience and Expert Voices"

Students at the Lovett School in Atlanta use wikis and video to establish expert panels to review their research.

Other schools concepts
1)At Gateway School we offer a unique opportunity for students to take a mini-course of their
choosing between semesters. For a week and a half, they enroll in a class that meets for
the entire day. This schedule allows them to explore the course topic in great detail, and
each class finishes with a culminating project. Students receive 2.5 credits toward
graduation for successful completion of their Project Week courses.

2)Princeton day school
For the last six weeks of the third trimester, seniors are required to do a senior project. This is a wonderful opportunity to explore an academic or career interest. Students drop most classes at this time. However, graduation requirements may not be dropped, and AP classes continue until after the exam in mid-May.

The Senior Project Program is directed by Krissa Lebacqz. “I believe that the ultimate goal of education should be to create a generation of citizens who are engaged in and informed about the world around them and who have the skills to tackle the challenges ahead,” says Krissa. “My goal for students in the Senior Project Program is that they discover not only their passion but gain confidence in their abilities.”

Seniors at Dublin Scioto High School have the opportunity to take part in the Senior Project. This project is designed to allow the students to:
1. Immerse themselves in an area of personal interest
2. Extend their thinking beyond the classroom
3. Develop independent learning techniques
4. Develop self-direction, self-reliance, and self-confidence