Learning Strategies

Schools Put 21st Century Learning into Action

Across the country, teachers are unleashing student potential through 21st century learning strategies. Educators are testing these 21st century practices as technology becomes more accessible, and demands for an innovation-based economy increase.

Each technique (such as blended learning, project-based learning or flipped learning) is rooted in the 21st century learning emphasis on the 4C's: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. These new pedagogical methods lead students through deeper learning experiences in thought provoking ways.

For many K-12 schools, the results are promising: students are engaged in a never-seen-before way, graduation rates are increasing, discipline rates are decreasing and more.

Here's a closer look at schools embracing 21st century learning concepts with compelling results:

Clintondale High School

Clinton Township, Michigan

Clintondale High School claims to be the world's first "flipped" high school. A flipped learning approach allows students to watch video classroom lectures at home on a computer. In the classroom, students spend time doing "homework" that gauges their lecture comprehension. Students collaborate, and teachers get more one-on-one time with them.

Clintondale began this approach in 2010 with 140 freshman. Now, all Clintondale High School classrooms are "flipped."

The academic results for students at this school are impressive. In its first 18 months the school's failure rate - or percentage of students failing each class – went down significantly.

In English, the failure rate went from 52 percent to 19 percent; in math, 44 percent to 13 percent; in science, 41 percent to 19 percent; and in social studies, 28 percent to 9 percent, according to the school's principal. In addition, the attendance rate has increased while the discipline rate has decreased.

In September of 2011, the entire school began using the flipped instruction model, and already the impact is significant. During its first semester of implementation, the overall failure rate at the school dropped to 10 percent.

Innovations Early College High School

Salt Lake City, Utah

Innovations Early College High School was founded in 2012 for students who had trouble learning in a traditional high school setting and were at risk of dropping out.

Innovations Early College High School focuses on blended learning, which mixes online teaching with in-person teaching within a brick-and-mortar classroom. Through blended learning, the students spend part of each class in traditional lecture-based instruction.

After lecture, they work individually or in groups on computers solving problems. Throughout the day, students can work on assignments as they choose and spend as much or as little time as they need on a particular assignment.

Students can work six and a half hours each day, but can come in when they want. The school day is from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The approach is working. From 2014 to 2015, the school's graduation rate rose 4 points to 93 percent, while the state average remained nearly steady at 84 percent.

Francis Hammond International Academy

Alexandria, Va

Francis Hammond International Academy uses group learning to tackle an ongoing challenge in diverse school districts: teaching immigrant students from vastly different cultures. The middle school academy, founded in 2015, takes a project-based learning approach to teaching students. The Academy is open to students who have been in the country less than four years. Its 160 students come from more than 26 countries, and speak more than 20 different languages at home.

Classes are held in English and students work in groups to complete projects using both language and problem-solving skills. In an effort to allow students to learn from each other, students at varying English language proficiencies work together.

Francis Hammond International Academy is one of nearly two dozen International Networks for Public Schools. It's the first middle school in the network.

Though the school is currently collecting data, there are promising results from other schools in the network. For instance, when compared to similar English Language Learning students in other New York City public schools, high school students in New York International Academies have a 27 percent higher four-year graduation rate, and a 24 percent higher six-year graduation rate.

Schools like these are on the cutting edge of 21st century learning. There is no one way to teach using these techniques, and the learning outcomes are still being measured. Still, these techniques show the evolving nature of education in a more sophisticated and technologically advanced world.

(2012) "Clintondale High School - Our Story." http://www.flippedhighschool.com/ourstory.php

Green, Greg. (Jan. 18, 2012) "My View: Flipped classrooms give every student a chance to succeed." CNN http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/01/18/my-view-flipped-classrooms-give-every-student-a-chance-to-succeed

Jacobs, Joanne. (2016) "High School of the Future: Cutting-edge Model Capitalizes on Blended Learning to Take Personalization Further." Education Next. http://educationnext.org/high-school-of-the-future-innovation-early-college

(2006) "Proof Points: Blended Learning Success in School Districts INNOVATIONS EARLY COLLEGE HIGH SCHOOL Salt Lake City, Utah." Evergreen Education Group. Web. http://www.christenseninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Innovations-Early-College-High-School.pdf

(August 2016) "Francis C. Hammond Middle School International Academy Community Collaboration Commitment Brochure." http://blogs.acpsk12.org/hammondia/files/2016/08/FCH-International-Academy-Brochure-2016-1-uiyv3m.pdf

(2013) "Internationals Network for Public Schools: Results" http://internationalsnps.org/results/student-results/

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