Lincoln Schools Implement New Curriculum Program
SUMMIT LEARNING SELF-PACED, MORE RIGOROUS
LINCOLN — On the outside, Lincoln High School and Lincoln Middle School look the same. But on the inside, teachers and staff are using a new curriculum that personalizes learning for each student and pairs students with a mentor or advisor to help them stay on track.
In the past, the schools have used several programs to meet their needs and their goals.
The platform Summit Learning has everything in one place, said Courtney Jones, high school principal.
“We have been looking for a curriculum that personalizes learning and is rigorous for the students,” Jones said. “Summit Learning does all this in one place. It provides resources for teachers, is rigorous for students and allows students to get help as needed or move ahead to other areas.”
Jones first heard about Summit Learning from the principal at Siloam Springs High School. Lincoln sent two teachers to a presentation in Siloam Springs and both came back saying they liked the program and thought it would work in Lincoln.
Jones and Michele Price, middle school principal, then went to presentations on Summit Learning and the decision was made to implement it for the 2018-19 school year.
Price explained that Summit is actually a school in California with its own buildings, own curriculum and teachers. A principal in California wanted to personalize learning for her students and began working toward that goal.
According to the Summit Learning website, more than 72,000 students, 3,800 teachers and 380 schools in 38 states are now part of the Summit Learning community.
Summit Learning has three components: mentoring, cognitive skills and habits of success.
Jones said the platform has everything Lincoln needs for instruction and students. The program has resources and lessons for teachers, hands-on projects, assessments or tests and allows students to be self-directed and work at their own pace.
For example, Price said, a standard is taught to students. Some get it and some don’t. Those who need extra help can meet in small groups or one-on-one with a teacher or another student during personalized learning time. Those who mastered the standard can delve deeper into the subject through online resources.
Years ago, this time for more work and for help was called “Study Hall,” Price said.
“In this case, personalized learning time is where they can get support for help they need or where they can be challenged to move on,” Price added.
At the middle school, students have regular classes Monday through Thursday. On Friday, students meet with their mentors or advisors and have personalized learning time.
The high school embeds its personalized learning time throughout the school day, Jones said. Students still go to class but they’ll have advisory and mentoring time every day. They may meet in small groups during the regular classroom time.
At the high school, 9th and 10th grades are involved in the Summit Learning program for their core classes - social studies, science, math and English. The plan is to add 8th grade and 11th grade in 2019-20 and 12th grade in 2020-21.
At the middle school, fifth-seventh grades are part of Summit Learning. The school will add fourth grade to Summit Learning in 201920.
All grades, however, are involved in the advisory and mentoring part of the program.
Jones acknowledges it is a shift in learning.
Students set their own schedules for the week as far as their goals and mentors work with them on meeting those goals.
As an example, when studying reading strategies, students first take a pre-test after the lesson and that lets them know if they are ready for the assessment or need to work on it some more. If they need more work, Summit Learning provides resources the students can go to before taking their test.
They also work on projects that go with the content and the objective of the lesson.
Another benefit of the program is that teachers can pull up a student’s data and look at how he or she is doing on all the standards. To master a skill or lesson, a student has to make 80 percent or better on the assessment before they can move on. The program allows any teacher or administrator at the school to see how any student is doing.
“The data tells us where the gaps are and then lists resources that students can go to for help on those gaps,” Price said.
Another part of Summit Learning is that parents can sign up to see their child’s progress. Parents signed up will receive text messages during the week with reminders about what’s going on. For instance, if a child has a project due, the text will tell the parent about the project and then suggest a few questions that the parent can ask their child about the project.
Parents also have access to resources and they can watch videos or go to other sites to help their child in any problem areas.
Price said this is another way of communicating with our parents.
“I’ve never had a program where you get so much information on where your kids are and gives them resources to help them. It’s amazing. It’s the best thing I’ve seen in years,” Jones said.
Price added that she has students at the middle school who have already finished their work for the year in one core area and they are being challenged in other ways.
Two high school students asked about the program said they like it, though they admit it’s a lot more involved than what they’ve done in the past.
The one difference, said 10th-grader Audie Ramsey, is that he has to work to keep up with all that’s going on.
“I have to stay on top of my work,” Ramsey said.
He likes Summit Learning because the program is split into steps and each assignment has resources available to help him understand the lesson or standard.
Hannah Noyce, also a 10th-grader, said her grades are better this year and she attributes that to Summit Learning. She said she has to be more organized with the new program but it also encourages her to “dig deeper” into what the class is learning.
Jones said “100 percent” of the students complained at the first of the year about Summit Learning. The most common complaint was that students said they did not have any down time because “there was always something to do next.”
Master Teacher Sarah Simmons said Summit Learning is “just a different way of learning” that is more rigorous and places more responsibility onto the students.