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Thinking Critically about Our Practices, Part I: The Collaborative for Innovative Education
Dianne Willoughby

Nueva prepares students to be citizens of the world, to think and act globally with empathy and understanding. This commitment is central to three exciting initiatives underway: the Collaborative for Innovative Education, Global Online Academy, and Mastery Transcript.

These three initiatives, both intertwined and distinct, demonstrate Nueva’s 50-year commitment to serving gifted learners through curriculum development, instructional practices, and assessment. Over the coming months, Nueva Digest will take you behind the scenes of these exciting endeavors.

The Collaborative for Innovative Education
On February 26, Nueva faculty and administrators, spanning three divisions and multiple disciplines, will attend a workshop for the Collaborative for Innovative Education (CIE). CIE is a global group of six forward-thinking schools: Cary Academy (North Carolina) and Nueva from the United States, American International School of Johannesburg, American School of Bombay, Frankfurt International School, and the Singapore American School — the hosts of the upcoming CIE workshop.

CIE’s mission is to “connect innovative schools and educators who are like-minded in vision, thought process, quality of program, and ambition to share thinking, practices, and resources around the future of innovative education … to maximize the growth of every student in their care.”

Nueva has been a member of CIE since 2016, but the seeds of collaboration began many years ago through Diane Rosenberg’s participation with the Academy for International School Heads. Nueva’s CIE faculty members span divisions and disciplines: Alegria Barclay, PreK–12 Equity & Social Justice Coordinator; Zac Carr, Assistant Head of Middle School and Middle School Humanities Teacher; Mike Peller, Assistant Head of Upper School for Student Life and Director of Global Initiatives; Jennifer Perry, Middle and Upper School Writing Teacher; Lora Saarnio, Lower School Math and Technology Specialist; Megan Terra, Lower School Division Head; and Claire Yeo, Upper School English Teacher.

The Global Citizen Task Force and CIE
The CIE partnership is tied to the work of the Global Citizen Task Force, chaired by Robert Frank, a Nueva trustee and parent. This task force is currently in the “mapping phase,” investigating and documenting the elements of Nueva’s PreK–12 program from a global citizen's point of view. The team is examining the key themes, capstone projects, and studies that are woven into curriculum at every grade. “Developing students who think and act globally is what Nueva does all through the grades,” said Robert. “Documenting it with a long view, we will define what it means be a Nueva global citizen.”

Being engaged in this dialogue at the classroom and grade level is creating an important frame of reference, and, through CIE, Nueva and the five partner schools are further developing global perspectives. “There’s a direct road from the task force’s mapping work to CIE,” said Robert. “In many ways, CIE has inspired our team to look end-to-end at our global citizenship program, and then to use this lens to both incorporate and share best practices.”

CIE at Nueva, October 2017
CIE meetings are held throughout each year, hosted by member schools. Nueva hosted a CIE workshop in October, immediately following the 2017 Innovative Learning Conference. Over four days, participants considered leading research in individualized learning, reflected on their own schools’ practices and values, and visited a number of Bay Area organizations, including the d.School, Brightworks, Lick-Wilmerding, CK-12, the Kahn Lab School, and AltSchool. The research and visits provoked thinking that was further cultivated during working sessions on the Hillsborough campus. Attendees had time both to collaborate with CIE members and to work as a Nueva team.

Areas of Focus
The work of CIE is still in early stages, with members developing a shared understanding of objectives and terminology. All six schools are focusing on how they personalize learning, also known as “stage, not age” instruction. Their work is deeply academic, incorporating four main areas of attention:

  • Learner Profiles: Tools and processes to develop profiles for students that consider passions, strengths, needs, and identities
  • Multiple Learner Pathways: Differentiation of curriculum co-designed by educators and learners to promote learner ownership and independence
  • Mastery Progression: The development of assessment language and tools that meet students where they are in skills, competencies, and values
  • Flexible Learning Environments: Embracing the flexible use of both space and time as learning dimensions to be student-centered, encourage engagement, and support asynchronous development

“This focus of looking deeply into personalization of learning is a natural fit for us at Nueva,” said Zac Carr, Assistant Head of Middle School and Middle School Humanities Teacher. “As faculty members, we innovate every year. CIE gives us a formal structure to reflect on what we do and to think bigger. Working across Nueva divisions and disciplines and with innovators in education from around the world is sparking wonderful new possibilities."

Bringing It Back
The CIE collaboration with global thought leaders and fellow Nueva faculty members has been mind-opening and immediately valuable. Nueva’s CIE faculty participants quickly brought new ideas and techniques back to their classrooms and colleagues, and several initiatives are underway.

For example, Lora Saarnio, Lower School Math and Technology Specialist, is already changing how Nueva personalizes learning in math. She is piloting new methods of capturing, sharing, and analyzing data to allow fluid and flexible instruction and student grouping. Her work has also sparked longer-term thinking around how to schedule classes and teachers to enable greater differentiation, additional approaches to acceleration, and cross-division transitions. Nueva faculty will continue their work on personalization of learning through intensive collaboration at the CIE workshop later this month.

This important work is underwritten by Nueva’s Neiman Scholars’ Fund, whose founder intended to ensure that Nueva would have essential research monies to pursue innovate programs while in the formative stages without impacting ongoing operations.

Rooted in Our Past; Essential for Our Future
Diane Rosenberg expressed her support for the work of the Global Citizen Task Force, CIE, and our Nueva participants, and reiterated Nueva’s commitment to advancing excellence in educational practices. “Nueva is involved in CIE because personalizing education for every student is a cornerstone of who we are as an organization. Since our founding as a lab school, we have been at the forefront of innovating in curriculum design, and it is deeply embedded in our 2017–2022 Strategic Plan: To boldly innovate new learning opportunities and expanded outreach. CIE is one way we are building upon our commitment to develop global citizens while both sharing with and learning from global leaders in innovative education.”

Next up, we will describe Nueva’s involvement with Global Online Academy. Watch for the story in Nueva Digest next month.

 


 Dianne Willoughby, Editorial Manager

February 14, 2018



Read More

Thinking Critically About Our Practices, Part II: Global Online Academy

In the recent article, “Thinking Critically about Our Practices, Part I: The Collaborative for Innovative Education,” readers learned about three initiatives in educational practice currently underway at Nueva. In this article, we explore Global Online Academy (GOA) and how it is being used to advance the global engagement of Nueva students. Next month, we will share the innovative ways faculty are using GOA to enhance their teaching practice and bring new opportunities to their students.

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Nueva prepares students to be citizens of the world, to think and act globally with empathy and understanding. This commitment is central to three exciting initiatives underway: the Collaborative for Innovative Education, Global Online Academy, and Mastery Transcript.

These three initiatives, both intertwined and distinct, demonstrate Nueva’s 50-year commitment to serving gifted learners through curriculum development, instructional practices, and assessment. Over the coming months, Nueva Digest will take you behind the scenes of these exciting endeavors.

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