Executive Director of Instruction Mollie Sharrar, along with a contingent of educators, presented a summary of the Summit Basecamp Learning pilot program for grades six, seven, and eight to Dexter Community Schools Board of Education. The summary reviewed the program’s first year with a recommendation to continue the program for a second year, the 2017-18 school year.
Summit Basecamp is an educational platform that provides educators with the resources they need to bring personalized learning into the classroom. Personalized learning is instruction customized to meet students’ individual needs and interests. With support from adults, students develop the ability to connect their ambitions and aspirations to their daily decisions and behavior. Educators help students figure out what they need to be doing in order to make their dream a reality. And as the student’s dream shifts, the plan for learning shifts too.
Over the past few years, a group of educators from Dexter Community Schools have been collaborating on a vision for more personalized learning experience for their students. With support from the Board of Education, Summit Learning was implemented as a pilot program for the 2016-17 school year.
The Summit Learning Platform was developed to utilize students’ individuality and strengths in their own learning process. The curriculum is customized by a corroboration of the teacher, student and the student’s parents. The student works at their own pace with short-term goals which lead to long-term goals. Assessments along the way measure progress. In this position, teachers take on more of the role of a coach or mentor – encouraging the individual as they apply themselves in a way that fits their personality.
The mission of Summit Learning can be found on their website (http://info.summitlearning.org/):
“Since our founding, we have remained steadfast in our mission – to prepare a diverse student population for success in a four-year college or university, and to be thoughtful, contributing members of society. We believe that every student is capable of college and career readiness.
While some students will select career paths or community colleges, the process of preparing to attend a four-year college helps young people avoid the academic and skill deficit that results from placement in a non-college prep, high school diploma program.”
Innovative programs such as Summit Learning reflect a growing awareness that students’ educational experience is greatly enhanced when the students themselves are involved in structuring their own educational process. And regardless of their path in life, the program seeks to prepare them to be active and productive citizens.
The point was made in discussion by the Board that technology has made information immediate and the goal of education is shifting from the acquisition of information to what to do with all the information that is now so readily available. A growing consensus is that “Anything that can be Googled isn’t worth spending time on” commented one educator. The future of education is seen as teaching students to become self-directed learners applying critical thinking to customized projects in their area of interest.
These projects allow the students to apply their knowledge and skills to authentic challenges connecting school time to real life. It teaches kids how to process information and sharpen their communication and problem-solving skills.
There were parents present endorsing the program and encouraging the continuation of Summit Basecamp. High School Teacher David Teddy has a son in the program. He shared with the Board how excited his son has become about school with his son telling him, “We’ve only got two months of school left and I don’t want this to end.”
Board member Daryl Kipke has two children in the Summit Basecamp program. One absolutely loves it and “it has been all positive” he says. His other child however prefers a traditional learning structure over personalized learning which only emphasizes the point that individual students respond best to programs they can relate to. The continuation of the Summit Basecamp program was for discussion only at the Board meeting and will be voted on for continuation at a later date.
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