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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

School Of The Future

Grades 6-8 | New York City, NY

Strategic Goals: Formative + Summative = Rigor

Rigorous expectations yield impressive results at New York's School of the Future, where regular assessments help keep students on track, and teachers strive to tap into students' true interests to bring out their best work.
Transcript

Strategic Goals: Formative + Summative = Rigor (Transcript)

John: We very much know that authentic assessment is having a positive impact on the students for the simple reason they know where they are at any given time. Whether it's a project-based assessment, a performance-based assessment, these are very much more authentic and kids find it much more difficult because we're asking them to not learn a procedure and spit it back out again, but to understand a concept that procedure represents.

Andy: Exhibitions are an exit requirement at School of the Future, and the idea of the exhibitions is to write eight to ten-page papers that use the habits of mind to make informed arguments about a particular topic. So for instance, a math student might write a math exhibition looking at the geometry of bridges. A social studies student might write an exhibition on analysis of advertising towards children. Whatever they do, it always has to have these habits of mind, point of view, evidence, connections, significance, alternative points of view. What we're really trying to do in each subject is to teach these habits of mind through this authentic process of writing a paper. So for instance, Esther, who's the ninth grade teacher, has incredible exhibitions that come regularly out of her class. Things that you would be shocked. These are ninth grade exhibitions that are extremely well-written, 15, 20 pages exploring controversial, thought-provoking stuff in rigorous intellectual ways.

Esther: So if we're doing exhibitions, first obviously we work on essential question, thesis, outline, but then they write the first argument and then we revise the first argument until it's ready to go. Second argument, third argument, and then at the end of the year, you obviously have the whole paper. And in the same way, if we're doing graphic novels, first they'll write a story, and then they turn that into a script so they have all the dialogue ready, and then they do a storyboard, and then they make the actual graphic novel. All those things in between will grade the script that they write, and will give a little grade to the storyboard. We'll see how they're progressing in these skills, but it's all towards the same final piece.

David: There was a particular unit that she did in ninth grade where her teacher had students do a graphic novel just to see how my daughter could take that assignment and create something of enormous beauty and force both intellectually and artistically was just-- it really just amazed all of us.

Andy: That's where I sort of see all of the art of what we're trying to do at the School of the Future, which is to constantly stay within the domain of the students' authentic interest, but to help them ramp up that interest in those intellectual skills so that they can achieve more powerful things than they would have been able to do just left to their own devices.

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Credits

This installment of Schools That Work was produced in collaboration with The Digital Learning Group.

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