Recommendations to achieve Applied and Engaged Learning

The critical learner outcomes are driven by a desire to raise achievement and learning for all Wisconsin students to world-class levels in reading, math, and science so they are second to none. Students must communicate and collaborate effectively, do research, think critically and creatively, and solve problems that address the future needs of our global society, anywhere and anytime. Students must be prepared with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and careers where they are launched into the world with the ability to pursue his/her dreams. Recommendations in support of this vision follow.
Pedagogy and Instruction
  1. Students
    1. Students will use technology to engage in solving real-world problems, self-directed research and student choice. Students will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of technology tools to support their learning.
    2. Students must be given online opportunities to communicate and collaborate with peers both locally and globally as well as with field experts. These are the elements which set apart the Common Core State Standards from previous curricular standards.
    3. Project based learning activities should motivate students to think critically and creatively express their ideas.
  2. Teachers
    1. Teachers should no longer be required to be the source of knowledge.  Instead, they should be guides and facilitators for learning. Teachers will move in the direction of creating project/problem based learning lessons.
    2. Curriculum development must be made more efficient for educators so that they can devote more time to teaching. Teachers should be connected to a statewide educational resource portal and the statewide student information system to provide a space for all stakeholders to exchange ideas and resources, and avoid redundant work. The portal should include specific models of best practices along with practices that are not encouraged. Teachers should be allowed to define quality by leveraging their voices in rating shared curricular resources through “crowd-sourcing” methods found in popular social networks and media, e.g., “likes,” “1+,” or star ratings.
    3. Specific strategies must be planned and implemented to actively engage participation by all Wisconsin educators in a statewide Professional Learning Commons accessible on the statewide education portal for the purpose of establishing professional learning networks and communities.
    4. Teachers should have access to technology that allows them to eliminate time spent on administrative tasks, e.g., photocopying instructional materials, calculating scores for certain tasks, and compiling data into spreadsheets.  Technology tools must be adopted to assume these tasks, freeing teachers to perform more important tasks such as diagnosing instruction, conducting personal assessments, and guiding and facilitating learning.
    5. Classroom management in the age of digital learning is fundamentally different than when students are in rows of desks utilizing textbooks. Teachers need professional development in order to learn new strategies for behavior and learning management in the classroom utilizing a variety of technology tools.
    6. The traditional paradigm of assessment needs to change. Purposeful assessment should drive instruction and should facilitate allowing for the students’ voices in the assessment of their learning.
    7. Two engaged challenge-based learning models adopted by some districts around the state are Problem Based Learning and Challenge Based Learning. Teachers are also including Curriculum Framing Questions from INTEL to guide higher level learning. They are also following the American Association for School Libraries Standards for the 21st Century Learner as they plan and implement challenging units that require the use of technology.
  3. Schools
    1. Will modify their technology goals to include individualization.
    2. Include physical space changes that facilitate project-based and collaborative learning.
    3. Through the statewide educational resource portal, DPI should provide professional development modules for best practices to allow and encourage schools and districts to provide ongoing coaching.
  4. Administrators, Districts, and Schools
    1. The current traditional 180-day school calendar does not facilitate digital learning.  We must seriously explore how to redefine instructional time to maximize flexibility.
    2. Schools should resemble learner-centered environments equipped with technology and learning resources.  
    3. Administrators, principals, and school board members should participate in a statewide Professional Learning Commons accessible on the statewide education portal.
Curriculum and Assessment
  1. Project and interest-based units of study demonstrating a commitment to design, develop, collaborate, problem solve, think critically, and peer review, within the context of scaffolded instruction, offers students skills necessary to compete and succeed in the 21st Century.
  2. What it might look like: inquiry-based units of study, game-based learning, and learning opportunities offered through organizations such as Illustrative, iRemix, Institute of Play, and Quest Atlantis.  
  3. Administrators need to assess teacher effectiveness differently in a new digital learning environment.  Define best practice digital tools for this purpose that might be made easily accessible across all districts.
Professional Learning and Leadership
  1. As a shift occurs in both the content and delivery of professional learning, schools and districts need to begin to focus on long-term, job embedded professional development for teams of educators with the goal of assisting them to re-envision their role as 21st century learner-leaders. This can come through the use of coaching, mentoring, co-teaching and other strategies/programs, aligned to state initiatives, which are adopted, and possibly adapted, to meet local needs and circumstances in this digital learning age.
Data and Information Systems
  1. Within the statewide educational resource portal, leverage Web 2.0 features to create a statewide Professional Learning Commons that grows virtual professional learning networks and communities.
  2. Within the digital portal include a linked Professional Development Plan for each educator including a portfolio space and links to opportunities for improving skills on the teacher and administrator standards.
  3. Explore options for statewide implementation of specific digital curriculum and assessment tools that would lessen the burden of managing such system at the local district and school level.
Policies and Procedures
  1. Competency based progression will increase the likelihood that students not only master knowledge and skills, but application of the acquired knowledge and skills will be generalized to various problem solving concepts and situations.
  2. By implementing and utilizing the iNACOL standards, Wisconsin online courses will include active and student-engaged learning.
  3. Offering flexible digital learning will increase the opportunity for students to be actively engaged and will best meet their needs and their individual lifestyles.
  4. Districts incorporating digital learning will address teacher professional development needs as an ongoing and regular practice.
  5. Districts will redefine the school day and the school year for increased and more productive professional development.