*School Reform in Northern Minnesota through Reflective Professional Development

Authentic Intellectual Work with MREA in Northern Minnesota

A partnership between five schools, the Center for Authentic Intellectual Work, the Minnesota Rural Education Association, the NW Service Cooperative, and the Blandin and Northwest Minnesota Foundation was established in Fall, 2012. Dr. Fred Nolan, MREA Executive Director, and Dr. Dana Carmichael, Center for AIW, worked with the five district superintendents to write a two-year grant for AIW professional development at the secondary level.

The goal of this initiative is to increase student learning by engaging students in authentic intellectual work. Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is defined by three criteria: construction of knowledge, through disciplined inquiry, to produce discourse, products, and performance that have value beyond school.


                                                                                     Article Submitted to two NW MN newspapers

Local School Districts Receive Grant for Professional Development

Teams of educators from five rural school districts in Northwestern Minnesota, including Bagley and Clearbrook-Gonvick, have received two-year grants from the Blandin Foundation and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation to study Authentic Intellectual Work. Four Bagley teams and two teams from Clearbrook-Gonvick gathered with five other teams from Fisher, Laporte, and Kelliher districts on August 23 for their first meeting. Over 60 teachers and administrators assembled in Bagley for the AIW Kick-off, an introduction to Authentic Intellectual Work.

During the next two years, the teams and their AIW coaches will meet in their individual districts to examine and improve teacher lessons, student work, and classroom instruction. Through reflective professional development, these five districts will equip their students to address the complex intellectual challenges of work, civic participation, and managing personal affairs. Over the grant period, the schools will develop the capacity to sustain the reform effort with guidance, coaching, and support from the Center for Authentic Intellectual Work, The Minnesota Rural Education Association, the NW Service Cooperative, and the Blandin and Northwest Minnesota Foundations.

A similar statewide effort in Iowa has shown significant growth in students’ achievement scores in mathematics, reading, science, and social studies over the past five years.