NextGen Cohort Resources

This NextGen Cohort webpage includes resources developed by individual Cohorts and/or their school. Cohorts are invited to use freely the resources provided here. Proactive collaboration by all Cohort members will assure continuous performance improvement by individual students, individual teachers, and individual principals which will lead to individual and collective school improvements.  When these resources are modified by NextGen Cohort members to create derivative works, the Cohort expects the derivative works be contributed to the Cohort for others to use, including descriptions of changes made.  Cohort resource contributions will be posted here, along with contributor recognition.

High School: Big Picture Learning 

Big Picture Learning’s mission is the education of a nation, one student at a time.  As a non-profit organization dedicated to a fundamental redesign of education in the United States, Big Picture Learning’s (BPL) vision is to catalyze vital changes in K-Adult education by generating and sustaining innovative, personalized learning environments that work in tandem with the real world of their greater community.   At the core of Big Picture Learning’s mission is a commitment to equity for all students, especially underserved urban students, and the expectation that these students can achieve success.  Big Picture Learning designs innovative learning environments, researches and replicates new models for learning, and trains educators to serve as leaders in their schools and communities. In order to create and influence the education of the future, Big Picture Learning must continually reflect on and improve our practice and research to provide the results to leverage our influence in policy decisions and educational systems at the state, national, and international levels.

Learn more and access their extensive resources at the Big Picture Learning website.

Student-Centered Learning k-8: Cedar River Academy, Enumclaw, WA

Core Student-Centered Education Principles

The CRA Student-Centered Education model (SCE) includes core non-negotiable principles or common agreements are described below. These principles are grounded in the best practices identified through educational and psychological research. The principles described here form the basis for daily coaching, planning and collaboration among teachers and curriculum specialists at schools that apply SCE.

  1. All students must feel safe and valued.

If students are to take risks in their learning, they need an environment where they can feel supported and safe as they make attempts to learn new skills and knowledge.

  1. Active planning, participation, and reflection by students is necessary for learning.

Active-learning is based on the belief that children construct knowledge from their own experiences and has been supported by well known learning theorists such as Piaget, Vygotsky, and Gardner.

Teachers using the SCE focus on children as learners who plan, carry out, and reflect upon their own experiences. Students are given the time needed to ensure they are able to complete their work. Teachers observe, support, and extend children’s work. They arrange the classroom to support independent learning as well as small group instructional experiences based on student needs. The focus on students as learners allows teachers to become researchers, examining student work to determine progress in relation to standards-based continuums that are assembled to describe typical student learning patterns.

  1. Meaningful, integrated instruction allows students to see the real world applications of their knowledge and skills.

Recommendations from professional educational organizations included characteristics or principles of Best Practice Learning1 that were endorsed by most organizations. These characteristics included authentic, experiential, holistic learning that allowed students to learn by doing, to see the whole context of their tasks, and to appreciate the real applications of their learning. Best practices for today’s students include the opportunity to make choices and to collaborate within the learning environment.

The SCE incorporates these best practices in all content areas. Students use reading, writing, and math to research, analyze and share their learning with others. Beginning in pre-kindergarten, students make choices and plan their activities. Aligning pre-kindergarten with a comprehensive educational model can reduce differences for English Language Learners as they enter school.2

Teachers help children to extend their learning by asking questions and providing information when needed. The SCE instructional program utilizes integrated, thematic units based on student interest and need. Students help plan field studies, gather information, and analyze, organize, and present their findings to others. Students assemble portfolios to describe their work. By experiencing real world applications, students understand how academic learning applies in the real world.

  1. Student-centered instruction requires on-going assessment and instructional adjustments.

When examining program effectiveness, we examine our goals, instructional procedures, and outcomes to see what we have accomplished. Studies have shown that aligning these components of the curriculum can have a significant positive effect on student achievement3, even canceling out some negative predictors.

Educators need to know when a child can apply a skill or knowledge in the appropriate context consistently and effectively and, if the child cannot do that, they need to know what parts of the task the child has mastered and which need further instruction and/or support. Summative assessments measure the end points. Formative assessment measures the progress along the way and guides us as we make adjustments to the instructional path.

  1. Collaborative action research process helps teachers evaluate student work, examine instructional effectiveness, and develop plans to support student learning.

Marzano4 identified collegiality and professionalism as school level factors impacting student achievement. Collegiality is the sharing of successes and failures and the constructive analysis and criticism of practices and procedures to promote improvement. Teacher discussions and advice positively impact student achievement. Professionalism, including pedagogical knowledge, has also consistently shown to impact student achievement.

Applying SCE, teachers meet daily to discuss observations and to analyze how to guide students to deeper levels of understanding. By recording current levels of performance in NextGen, teachers are able to generate profiles that allow analysis of both individual and classroom performance.

  1. Parent and community involvement are critical to learning.

Parent and community involvement are also identified as school level factors contributing to successful student achievement.5 Effective communication and opportunities for participation and involvement in governance decisions are the three key areas mentioned.

Early Childhood programs in Reggio Emilia, Italy, incorporate parent observations of student learning as part of their assessment process. By expanding the documentation of learning to include observations outside of school, teachers and parents are able to collaborate to support student learning.

1Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde. Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools, 1998

2Applied Survey Research, 2010

3Mitchell, 1999, District Administration, 2004

4Marzano, What Works in Schools 2003

5Marzano, 2003

SCE Model Element Descriptions

The Cedar River Academy SCE is based in brain research defining how humans learn. Research demonstrates that the richness of our environment effects human mental development, especially during a child’s early life, and physiological changes occur as a result of experience. Neuroscience indicates that affective learning environments must be meaningful to the learner. The greater the number of association that the human brain elicits, the more firmly the information is “woven in” neurologically.”  This results in a larger quantity of meanings and more associations and depth per meaning. The descriptions of these SCE model elements are offered here: CRA SCE Element Descriptions.

Curriculum Development Plan

Cedar River Academy uses the learning standards defined by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as its curriculum, including the Common Core Standards. CRA teachers imbed appropriate elements of these standards in integrated thematic learning units they create that are focused on individual student interests.  This curriculum development process is outlined in this document: CRA Curriculum Development Plan.

Behavior Management Procedure

Cedar River Academy has designed a student behavior management procedure that is aligned with its SCE model and leveraging NextGen automation service facilities. This procedure is outlined in this document: CRA Behavior Management Procedure.

Teaching Practice Evaluation

The CRA team believes teachers should be evaluated on their professional skills and abilities to practice the defined education model adopted by their school. If teachers are effectively executing the adopted education model, and student performance does not improve, the responsibility for this result should be placed on the school’s administration and directors with the expectation that the education model be adjusted to improve its effectiveness for the target student population.

Cedar River Academy has designed a teaching practice development procedure that is aligned with its SCE model and leveraging NextGen automation service facilities. This procedure is outlined in this document: CRA Teaching Practice Evaluation.

Teacher Recruiting Procedure

CRA teachers must hold a Washington State teaching certificate, hold a degree from an accredited college or university, and demonstrate an understanding and commitment to a constructivist education model.

CRA is committed to provide our students with exceptional opportunities to learn broadly and deeply while meeting and exceeding state standards. We understand that continuing to meet this objective is dependent on our ability to find and hire exceptional teachers and administrative staff. It is, therefore, CRA policy to manage the recruiting and hiring process to assure the addition of only the highest quality members to our school. The CRA  defined teacher recruiting procedure is outlined in this document: CRA Teacher Recruiting Process.

SCE Program Description

CRA’s Student-Centered Education model is different in most ways from traditional education models. To describe the SCE model to its community, CRA publishes this document: SCE Description.

MathQuest Description

CRA’s MathQuest activities provide teachers opportunities to observe and assess student understanding of math standards while students are engaged in solving math problems, writing about their solutions, and building a representation of the problem/solution(s). This document includes an introductory MathQuest process description: MathQuest Description.

Cedar River Academy Handbooks

The following CRA handbooks are provided in PDF format. To request any of these documents in other formats any Cohort member may indicate their preferred format in a Contact message.

Parent Handbook 2013-2014

Volunteer Handbook 2013-2014

Teachers’ Handbook 2013-14

Health Policy

Being There Request