Since its conception, Norris Academy strived to be radically learner-centric. It is for this reason that learners at Norris Academy have a tremendous amount of voice and choice in their educational experience. While rapid iterations and continuous improvement of Norris Academy's model have changed details of the program, the goal to be learner-centered has remained at the center of their work.
Every stage of implementation has had it's own challenges, Executive Director Johnna Noll says. One big challenge was building a culture of growth mindset and continuous improvement for adults. Another big challenge was shifting the mindset of learners to take agency in their own educations. It has also been a challenge to find ways for students to transfer and apply their knowledge in real-world situations.
Focus on the "why." Many schools jump to the technology itself rather than considering why they are using the technology in the first place. Build a model that is learner-centric, and keep this in mind with every improvement.
Norris has created a unique design process for creating and designing a school model. Also, its "plans and pathways" approach keeps learners' individual needs at the center everything. The school also has a strong focus on wellness and learner agency.
Norris Academy uses an extremely learner-centered model of education. Upon enrolling in the school, each student, aided by a specialist, takes time to reflect on his or her needs, interests, and academic goals, which Norris Academy refers to as the learner's "profile." Using this profile, specialists help learners to create their own academic plans in order to improve on the school's four competencies: academy, employability, citizenship, and wellness. Learners choose both the content they will learn and how they will learn it, which the school calls their "pathway."
Academic content may be learned through a teacher, through a mentorship, through an in-depth project, or online. Students regularly use content platforms such as Newsela, Khan Academy, and iReady. They then take assessments online in order to demonstrate their growth. Students are also encouraged to demonstrate their learning through a real-world project in order to demonstrate competency.
Norris Academy learners do not operate on a traditional bell schedule. Many learners come for a portion of the day or week, and many are completely remote. Learners each have their own iPad, which they use to create their own schedule, weekly, depending on which tasks they need to complete.
Contact: Johnna Noll
Contact Title: Executive Director
W247 S10395 Center Drive
Telephone: (262) 662-5911
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