Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

School of One: Is This What "Blended Learning" Looks Like?

CJ Westerberg, December 24, 2010 10:57 AM


"New York City's School of One may turn out 
to be the single most important experiment 
conducted in education so far. It is the future."
--Arthur Levine, 
President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation 
President Emeritus, Teachers College at Columbia University

When Technology & Education Collide
Every "One" Has a Story
 Video below

by C.J. Westerberg

I will never forget seeing "A Chorus Line" on Broadway shortly after its opening.   It was, at the time of its debut, an extremely controversial show with breakthrough narratives of dancers sharing their unique life stories (and perhaps also becoming a defining moment in the history of  personal revelation sharing as a precursor to Facebook and Twitter).   The show became hugely successful, breaking many records, spawned a movie starring Michael Douglas, and is still dancing.

"I am smart.  I am not stupid."
                                      student, School of One

"I hope I get it."
                                       dancer, A Chorus Line  

A Chorus Line is like a traditional school - either you get it or you don't.   You are ranked and rated and sorted against other dancers . . .er . . . students.  Stragglers and those who don't quite fit the ideal go home.   Some of the dancers who didn't make the grade were "wrong arms Roy" and Frank, who looked at his feet when he danced, and Lois who danced the wrong way, like a ballerina.  Students who learn too fast or too slow or visually or prefer group learning or who enjoy on-line learning or who need tutoring are the outliers.  What's worse is they are pushed ahead to the next dance even if they didn't master the first one (unlike A Chorus Line).  But are they really outliers?
 School of One takes a different approach.  Excerpts for those unfamiliar:

"The School of One's mission is to provide students with personalized, effective, and dynamic classroom instruction customized to their particular academic needs, interests, and learning preferences.

 To organize this type of learning, each student receives a unique
daily schedule based
on his or her academic strengths and needs.
As a result, students within the school can receive profoundly
different instruction. Each
student's schedule is tailored to ability and
to the ways he or she learns best. Teachers acquire data about student achievement each day and then adapt their live instructional
lessons accordingly."

We've been following this School for some time yet felt this new video below was a good introduction and certainly less clinical than earlier versions.  Plus, we've included a couple videos from both the 2007 Tony Awards and the movie for those needing a nostalgia fix to remind us each "one" of us have something special to offer this world.

School of One is a much-watched maverick, being declared The Littlest Schoolhouse, named Time's magazine's top 50 innovations in 2009, featured by MSNBC's Education Nation's week-long event Changing the Equation, a Classroom of the Future School of One: The School of Tomorrow, and a futuristic initiative by Joel Klein, the former NYC school chancellor.

We'll be watching.

The other side of this coin?  If you have to spy on students . . .

Videos below:

#1:  School of One
#2:  A Chorus Line - Tony Awards 2007 featuring "I Hope I Get It" aka "I Need a Job" and "One
Singular Sensation"
#3 - "One Singular Sensation" - finale from the movie version
More related posts on The Daily Riff and links:

Life as a Learning Lab - "...we've spent hours and hours discussing how we can
help students follow their interests and passions, and also help students learn
powerful ideas and develop as systematic thinkers."

Alan November on Learning and Technology -  The Video:  Apprenticeship, Learning & Motivation

Differentiated Learning: Coming to Schools - Video

Fires of the Mind:  Youth Motivation and Mastery

Using Education Tech to Individualize Learning  - Education Week

All Together Now - Education Next



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School of One from NYC Public Schools on Vimeo.

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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
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