So, if you’re like me, you might be interested in how learning works and what spaces are best suited for making learning valuable and suitable for all learners. Today, I am sitting in a conference about courses and tutorials involved with APEX learning. APEX is an online school but my school YSC Academy is embarking on a new venture that employs APEX curriculum with the benefit of our teacher-hood. For me, this whole adventure begins with how is learning defined by each teacher, how do the courses meet the student-driven and teacher-monitored opportunities, and how does the teacher orient him or herself to meet the needs of the 21st century skills.
One of the key words of this new model is “student-driven” learning. The structure of APEX is visual engagement around Units and Lessons. One of the first things I notice is a lack of the Goals and Mission for each unit connected with the Skills we really want students to learn. In other words, where is the peer-assessment and Socratic thinking / Reflection for the students and teacher to practice summary, analysis, synthesis, and the scientific method of producing a literary analysis paper. The marriage of “student-driven” and “teacher-monitored” learning is the community of learners sitting down and deciding what is worth learning individually and what is worth learning collaboratively for the sake of the community. YSC Academy believes excellence is worth pursuing, that learning happens anywhere and everywhere, and that students who graduate from YSC should be best prepared for the changing world. Flexibility, Grit, and Self-Assessment are crucial elements for the YSC learner.
If anything, we are going to realize the value of peer-to-peer assessment and collaboration as we come to define and redefine what learning looks like, and what are our students’ and our own habits of mind. Teachers tend to be adamant about the way they carry out their recipes; they are chefs who get really good at delivering ingredients (albeit the same ingredients) in different ways. This year, we will tinker with various ingredients, but the bulk and crux of our education will be when and how we communicate the challenges and achievements of this tool. APEX is a tool, content with a lot of data, and we as teachers will have to manipulate and whittle down what works for our community and our school. School and education should be aligned such as each assignment is an opportunity for students to reflect and learn about their own power and voice.