Education Resources Consortium: April in New Mexico

Taking a trip to the Southwest in April was not only a change in weather, but in educational climate for ERC co-founder Dr. Larry Myatt and Consulting Practitioner Katrina Kennett. The pair traveled to Albuquerque in April to work with a network of schools as they expanded their work in performance assessment and student resiliency.

Day 1 was spent working with the Health Leadership High School, set to open in Fall 2013. Gabriella Blakey, the principal, opened the day by explaining the tri-fold system of planning in the new school: systems, clients, and determinants. These three lenses will provide students with a fluid understanding of the impact on the health care field while giving them expertise in one of the areas. The school will be partnering with UNM to provide access to clients, resources, professionals, and systems, and has established an ongoing module series to introduce students to core topics such as Nutrition, Behavioral/Mental Health, and Decision- Making. These modules will delve into a focus on the human body in the students’ sophomore year. Ms. Blakey reflected after that the students and community partners “don’t have to be in our school to be a part of our school.” Her focus on having students cultivate as much quality time with professionals as possible will make their acquisition of mastery that much faster and more meaningful.

Dr. Myatt continued the student-focused orientation of the day by demonstrating the importance and design of a 3600 Pillar for Student Resiliency, a framework that outlines the demands of teacher skills, administrative platforms, and student culture building. Ms. Kennett followed by introducing a ‘technology toolbelt’ and how to approach the wealth of tools, apps, platforms, and resources available to educators.

Thursday morning started off with Ms. Kennett consulting with the Architecture, Construction, and Engineering Leadership High School, or ACE Leadership HS, created in 2011, conferencing with teacher teams to incorporate technology and digital platforms into their projects. “Students show high levels of engagement with the ACE projects, so the question posed was how to be more strategic and intentional in leveraging technology to capture and share their work with other students, parents, and the community?” Projects such as considering the effect of trade routes and relocation of businesses, or the natural watersheds of New Mexico, could use platforms like Google Maps, Prezi, and Pearltrees to collect, present, and archive student work.

Thursday afternoon was a highlight of the trip, with the New Mexico Performance Assessment Network convening for their fifth session. With over 30 representatives from local schools such as Amy Biehl HS, Cottonwood Classical, Native American Charter Academy, Albuq. Sign Language Academy, and ACE. Dr. Myatt pulled everyone onto the conversation with a protocol designed to explore the rationale for authentic assessment, and Ms. Kennett then took over to present on ‘Performance Assessment in the Humanities’. Her presentation considered performance assessment in units, across years, incorporating technology, and the curriculum planning frameworks. As a high school English teacher, Ms. Kennett incorporated her own technology classroom practices into the presentation, allowing participants to use live polling, iPad workflow, and on-the-fly blogging to make the afternoon engaging and hands-on.

To round off the trip, Dr. Myatt and Ms. Kennett participated in the brainstorming and planning session for the upcoming Technology Leadership High School. In a day-long event, they aided over 20 participants from across the vibrant technology sectors in and around Albuquerque, in brainstorming the knowledge, skills, and attributes of a successful person in their field of expertise. The ERC duo was joined by Tim Kubik from Kubik Perspectives and Michael Soguero from the Eaglerock Professional Development Center. The participants then worked to construct sample projects that would embed the knowledge, skills, and attributes within their design. On the following day, using the artifacts that participants created, a smaller advisory prototyping team, included Kennett and Myatt, solidified a fundamental technology design workflow into a framework for teaching and learning, resulting in a core educational paradigm for the school that borrows from the fluid nature of technology creation while giving students a supportive model to take risks and succeed within. In mapping out their work, the group constructed a short video that shows the core of the project developing along the design paradigm, followed by the knowledge, skills, and attributes they would develop if they completed the project.

Overall, a busy week-long trip to the Southwest that will reverberate through the three high schools, and the New Mexico Performance Assessment Network.