Summit’s mission has always been to prepare a diverse student population for success in a four-year college, and to be thoughtful, contributing members of society. However, we found out in 2010 that only 55% of Summit’s first graduating class were on track to graduate college in 6 years or less. To help students develop the skills, habits, and knowledge to help them not only TO but THROUGH college, Summit began on a journey to create personalized learning environment for students that would support them to be self-directed learners.
We encourage schools looking to implement Summit Personalized Learning to build grade-level teams so that students take ownership of their learning environment in all their core classes at once. The grade-level team arrangement also fosters collaboration among teachers using a new method for the first time. We also suggest one school leader champions personalized learning with parents and the wider community.
In a Summit Personalized Learning environment, a teacher plays multiple roles:
As coaches, Summit teachers get to know their students well. Specializing in one subject but often co-teaching another, Summit teachers use a project-based learning approach that emphasizes hands-on, inquiry-based learning that is inspired by and connected to the real world. As such, Summit teachers focus more on cognitive skills and Habits of Success than on content (which is addressed in a different part of our day and week, Personalized Learning Time).
In addition to their teaching load, every Summit teacher also serves as a mentor to a group of 15-20 students, with whom they will meet consistently over the course of their middle or high school years at Summit, as a group as well as one-on-one and with their families. As coaches and mentors, Summit teachers are not only responsible for teaching a subject and set of skills to their students – they get to know and support a group of students through their many academic and developmental hurdles, as well as through the college application process (in our high schools).
Summit teachers have access to an extraordinary amount of professional development -- at least 50 days a year.
-Eight weeks of professional development on campus, while students are immersed in Expeditions. Teachers take a step back to reflect on their growth and learning related to the long-term goals they set for themselves for the year. This allows teachers to maximize time with students when they are on campus, and use the Expeditions time to process and plan, both independently and with their coach.
-Two weeks of organization-wide professional development during the year, which brings all Summit teachers together for collaborative PD and to work towards collective goals.
-Up to 30 days of paid professional development during the summer, which they can choose to attend.
This professional development time is modeled after the way our students learn. Just like Summit’s students, teachers have access to a coach, with whom they meet weekly to set goals and sort through challenges. Some coaching and professional development addresses the teacher’s skills and experiences in teaching their project-based class, while other times the teacher may focus on their role as a mentor.
Summit teachers also use a version of the Summit Personalized Learning Platform (www.summitlearning.org) to manage their own goals, plan their professional development time, access resources related to their own knowledge and skill needs, and track progress.
Summit schools tend to enroll students whose knowledge and skills are below grade level, yet, during their time at Summit, these students tend to outperform their peers in nearby public schools and statewide. Over time, we also find that Summit students from low-income or minority backgrounds are closing the achievement gap with their more affluent peers as well.
Not only are all students prepared for college with rigorous coursework and AP classes and exams (more than half of Summit students pass at least one), 99% gain acceptance to at least one four-year university, and more than half earn a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrollment – double the national average. After our transition to our new instructional model, we have seen promising college persistence data with 96% of college freshmen staying in college.
We are building a community of over 100 schools who are implementing Summit Personalized Learning and collaborating and learning together in the process.
This program provides teachers and schools across the country with the resources they need to bring personalized learning into the classroom, including:
-Access to the Summit Personalized Learning Platform, an online tool that powers personalized learning
-Curricula and assessments for English, math, science, and social studies (grades 6-12) made by teachers, for teachers that schools can adapt to fit their needs
-In-person professional development on personalized learning to plan for the change management process to adopt personalized learning
Ongoing support and mentorship to help teachers and school leaders implement Summit Personalized Learning
In addition to the benefits for the partner schools, this program is also helping Summit to improve our approach to personalized learning, and helping their engineering partners at Facebook refine the Summit Personalized Learning Platform so it works well across schools. Summit's ultimate vision: to empower any and every teacher in America to bring personalized learning into their classroom.
Focus Areas: Personalized / Competency-based PD, Getting started with blended learning