Schools across the country are transforming education through blended learning. Whether they have been built explicitly from the ground up or are introducing blended learning within existing walls, these institutions are united by a common desire to share their journey with and to learn from the wider community.
The schools listed below are the voices of the BlendMyLearning blog. Contact us if you'd like to contribute too!
Achievement First (AF) is a non-profit charter management organization (CMO) that operates a growing network of high-performing, college-preparatory, K to 12 public charter schools in Connecticut and New York. The mission of Achievement First is to deliver on the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of America’s children. We believe that all children, regardless of race or economic status, can succeed if they have access to a great education. Achievement First schools will provide all of our students with the academic and character skills they need to graduate from top colleges, to succeed in a competitive world and to serve as the next generation of leaders for our communities.
Since August 2011, AF has piloted a variety of approaches to the thoughtful, rigorous integration of technology to enhance teaching and learning. The initial pilots began in K-5 and high school and used tools such as iStation, MyOn, ST Math, Fast ForWord, Headsprout, Chromebooks, and iPads to blend instruction. At our high schools, we leveraged Google apps in support of our evidence-based writing program and Camtasia with Google apps in support of a “flipped” biology classroom using teacher-authored videos. We are excited to continue exploring opportunities to further our mission in the digital age.
Alpha Public Schools
Alpha Public Schools opened its first campus, Blanca Alvarado Middle School, in the Alum Rock neighborhood of San Jose, California in the fall of 2012. Alpha aims for nothing less than to redefine the way we teach and learn in the 21st century. By using technology to empower great teachers and inspire active learning, Alpha Public Schools will not only change the educational and economic trajectory of our students’ lives, but also transform their surrounding communities. With technology tightly integrated into a supportive and personalized educational program, Alpha’s innovative blended learning approach will deliver outstanding academic results at a sustainable cost.
Aspire Public Schools
Aspire Public Schools, a charter management organization that operates 34 high-performing schools in California. Aspire is committed to transforming underserved communities and making college the expectation, not the exception. Aspire intends to open a K-8 blended school in Memphis, TN as part of the Achievement School District in 2013/14.
Bellows Free Academy - Academy 21
Bellows Free Academy 21 (Academy 21) is a member of the Franklin Central Supervisory Union. Academy 21 is an early college high school model that focuses on creating customized, flexible pathways that prepare all students for success in college and career. In Academy 21, students engage in a competency-based continuum to enable the acquisition and application of core content, skills, and learning dispositions based on readiness, not seat time. Students learn through interdisciplinary project-based learning with a deep focus on ELA and Math. Blended learning reinforces core content and provides opportunities for targeted instruction customized by learner profile and interest. Formative assessments allow for real-time adjustment of a student’s program. Presentations, internships, and capstone projects capture and allow for the demonstration of authentic learning. Students and teachers monitor and manage progress through an LMS-based, customized learning plan.
Cornerstone Charter Health High School
Cornerstone Charter Health High School opened in Detroit on August 2012. It's mission is to prepare students for success in life by ensuring all students are prepared for college, careers with an emphasis on health careers, and community service. Cornerstone Charter Health High School employs a blended learning model that combines an online curriculum with 21st century, small-group, classroom instruction in order to allow each student to study at their own pace and move on to the next level once they have achieved mastery in a subject.
Da Vinci Schools
Da Vinci Schools operate two small, college-preparatory charter high schools: Da Vinci Science and Da Vinci Design, and a K-8 blended learning model: Da Vinci Innovation Academy in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. As evidenced by its name, Da Vinci Schools are defined by innovation. Through a highly personalized program that integrates Blended Learning, Early College and Real World Experiences, students will engage in authentic project-based learning, college courses, internships, tinkering labs and more. Da Vinci believes the means to effect transformative, cost-effective change in public education is to leverage technology and collaboration to support highly qualified educators. By providing hands-on, “real world” opportunities, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and become more engaged, motivated, self-confident and successful in college and beyond.
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School was founded in 2004 and has a program based on nationally recognized best practices for advancing student achievement. E.L. Haynes’ mission is that every E.L. Haynes student of every race, socioeconomic status and home language will reach high levels of academic achievement and be prepared to succeed at the college of his or her choice. The school is the first year-round public school in Washington, DC and is named for Dr. Euphemia Lofton Haynes, the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics, a teacher in the District of Columbia’s school system for 47 years, and the first woman to serve as President of the District of Columbia Board of Education.
Blended Learning at E.L. Haynes will promote learning and close the achievement gap, ensure student mastery of 21st century skills and establish E.L. Haynes as an innovation site for harnessing technology for learning. Blended Learning at E.L. Haynes includes use of LearnZillion, a tool that contains videos made by outstanding teachers and short assessments; online subscriptions and other online resources; interactive technology; and a student portal that allows students to set goals and track their progress.
Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF) program
CityBridge Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund launched the Education Innovation Fellowship (EIF) program in 2013 to support an annual cohort of excellent Washington, D.C. public school teachers seeking to drive innovations in personalized instruction through blended learning. With the support of a $1 million grant from the Microsoft Corporation, the Fellowship will expand in 2014 and 2015, launching classroom and school-wide innovation in dozens of Washington, D.C. schools. The Fellowship is a strategic investment in great teachers—the classroom leaders who can become natural change agents for their schools, using digital content and tools to drive instructional innovation.
At Envision Schools we believe the current achievement gap reflects a systemic failure to understand how kids learn, what motivates them to learn, and what they need in order to learn well. We employ the best practices of high school design —rigorous college-preparatory curricula, small and personalized learning environments, and a focus on measurable results—and add a truly innovative model that emphasizes project-based learning, development of Deeper Learning skills, integration of arts and technology into core subjects, real-world experience in workplaces, and a uniquely rigorous assessment system. Each for the four Envision schools employs specific learning tactics built upon the four key R’s: Rigor, Relevance, Relationships, and Results. Vibrant learning communities apply compassion and high expectations to inspire and empower students. Our approach is specifically designed to increase student engagement, deepen integration and understanding, promote active learning, and ensure college success.
FirstLine Schools operates five open-enrollment public charter schools in New Orleans, LA. Its mission is to provide a caring community where students acquire the academic foundation necessary for success in high school, college, and beyond. FirstLine Schools has been committed to leveraging charter school independence to implement best practices in education and incubate innovative projects that improve school effectiveness. The Personalized Learning Project aims to improve student achievement through computer assisted instruction in the school day to provide more personalized learning experiences for students.
High Tech High
High Tech High began in 2000 as a single charter high school launched by a coalition of San Diego business leaders and educators. It has evolved into an integrated network of schools spanning grades K-12, housing a comprehensive teacher certification program and a new and innovative Graduate School of Education. High Tech High has begun experimenting with blended learning in a variety of ways: some teachers are “flipping” their classrooms using Khan Academy or Brightstorm, others are integrating software like Aleks and ST Math, and some students will be taking an online computer science course while meeting face-to-face a few times a week with a teacher.
KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy
KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy (KIPP Adelante), an affiliate of the Knowledge is Power Program charter school network, aims to serve those students in Southeastern San Diego (grades 5–8) who traditionally have not had the resources or opportunities to pursue higher education. KIPP Adelante is a public charter school authorized by the San Diego Unified School District and its mission is to ensure that its students develop the academic skills, intellectual habits and character traits needed to succeed in top-quality high schools, colleges and the competitive world beyond. The school uses the Spanish word “adelante,” which translates to “forward,” as part of its name to instill in students and families that everyone will be focused on getting ahead for college and life. KIPP Adelante creates an atmosphere geared toward the goal of constant learning: students know that there is not a moment to waste. One of the most frequent comments visitors to the school make is about the powerful culture of high expectations and strong support. As a result of such a learning environment, students walk and speak with confidence, they value and take advantage of every opportunity, and they talk not about “if” they will go to college, but when they will graduate.
KIPP Chicago, an affiliate of the Knowledge is Power Program charter school network, is a network of public college preparatory schools serving the Austin, Garfield Park and North Lawndale neighborhoods on Chicago’s West Side . The KIPP Chicago network currently operates three schools: KIPP Ascent Middle (opened in 2003), KIPP Ascend Primary (opened in 2010) and KIPP Create College Prep (opened in August 2012). KIPP Chicago’s mission is to empower each student to develop his or her academic and character strengths in order to have the knowledge, skills and traits necessary to create his or her path to college. KIPP Chicago will reach this mission by blending instructional technology with high-quality KIPP teaching methods to meet the academic needs of every child.
Match Education is a national education nonprofit operating two high-performing charter public schools in Boston, MA. Match Education plans to open a new 6-8 school, Match Next, in inner-city Boston in the fall of 2013. Match envisions its new school as a technology research platform that can generate reality-based knowledge about which technology and tools work best with low-income, inner-city students—kids who must make rapid academic gains to reach grade-level proficiency (and then excel further).
Perspectives Charter Schools
Perspectives Charter Schools is a network of five schools on the South Side of Chicago, serving nearly 2,300 students. Perspectives teaches a rigorous college-prep curriculum based on the 26 ethical principles of A Disciplined Life®—principles which help students develop positive self-perception, healthy relationships, and personal productivity. Our mission is to provide students with a rigorous and relevant education, preparing students for life in changing world and helping them further become intellectually reflective, ethical, and caring people engaged in a meaningful life.
Over the past two years, we have been blending skill-building programs like Accelerated Math and Odyssey Reader into our instructional model, helping us meet the diverse needs of all our students.
Rocky Mountain Prep
Rocky Mountain Prep is an innovative elementary charter school in Denver. Our vision is to close the opportunity gap through a rigorous & personalized academic program, character development and individualized support necessary to succeed in a four-year college and life. We are a values-driven organization and live by our PEAK values of perseverance, excellence, adventure and kindness. We are exploring plans to develop a network of high-performing charter schools in Colorado.
Schools for the Future
Schools for the Future (SFF) was founded by Ephraim Weisstein, creator of Diploma Plus, a nationally acclaimed alternative high school model operating 30 schools in eight states and serving 4,000 formerly disconnected youth. SFF opened its first pilot school in Jacksonville, FL in August 2011 and has recently opened its first school in Detroit, MI in August 2012. SFF serves students who are about to enter high school and are two or more years behind academically, regardless of reading and math skill levels. SFF's goal is to graduate 100% of its students, including those furthest behind academically, within five years or less, ready to succeed in postsecondary education/training and careers without the need for college level remediation.
SFF combines cutting edge practices in five domains: competency-based progression to graduation; use of a unique blended curriculum that addresses skill gaps while simultaneously challenging students with higher order thinking and college style tasks; an explicit affective program to build cognitive confidence and self-efficacy, real-time student performance analytics; and a "limitless campus" of extended online and community-based learning opportunities supported 24/7 through mobile tablet technology.
Summit Public Schools
Summit Public Schools is a leading charter management organization serving Silicon Valley’s diverse communities. It operates four charter schools that enroll 1,200 students. Summit’s mission is to ensure that every student has the opportunity to not only attend, but succeed in, a four-year college or university. Summit’s flagship school, Summit Preparatory Charter High School, opened its doors in 2003. Overwhelming community demand led to the opening of Summit’s second school, Everest Public High School, in the fall of 2009, as well as Summit Public Schools’ Rainier and Tahoma in San Jose in the fall of 2011. Over the next decade, Summit will grow to serve 6,000 students through 14 schools across Silicon Valley, forming Summit's transformative College Ready Corridor.
Summit is currently piloting a deeper integration of its blended learning math program, called Optimized Learning, in two of its schools. Summit's Optimized Learning Environment included a blending of technology and face-to-face learning experiences for students, competency-based progression with the opportunity for students to master individual passions and a focus on personalization through self-directed learning. Summit will be opening two fully Optimized schools in the fall of 2013.
Venture Academy is a new public charter school network that will operate secondary (grades 6-12) blended learning schools, beginning with the opening of Venture Academy in Minneapolis in August 2013. Venture’s mission is to inspire passionate and purposeful college- and career-ready entrepreneurial leaders able to imagine opportunities, take initiative and create solutions. Its personalized approach leverages digital learning, expert teacher coaching, experiential learning, real-time feedback and a pervasive school culture of entrepreneurial leadership to prepare urban children—including English learners and those with learning disabilities—for college-level, college-credit learning by their high school junior year and lifelong roles as innovators. Venture will motivate young people to achieve the dramatic learning gains needed to reach these goals by putting them in charge—of discussions, projects, public presentations, school support teams and their own learning.