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Model Overview

Program Overview

Year Launched
9 - 12
Blended Grades

Implementation Q & A

When you first implemented blended learning, why did you choose that particular model? (has your model changed? why?)

In The U School's first years, stakeholders' vision of blended learning involved using software equipped with premade curriculum. This curriculum sometimes did not engage students because content did not feel specific to their interests. In-house, teacher-designed curriculum is now an essential element of learning at The U School, as teachers are able to create units in response to students' interests and passions. Students report greater engagement with teacher-designed curriculum, as well as a feeling of greater connection to their teachers. In the future, The U School will continue to facilitate teachers' development in designing digital, student-directed curriculum. Additionally in the coming years, U School administrators and teachers plan to evaluate and expand the current digital curriculum repository in service of increased student choice over content.

What was one of your biggest challenges when going blended, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge to going blended has been twofold: inspiring a mindset shift in both students and teachers around what learning can be. Many students have completed eight or nine years of school by the time they come to The U School, and consequently they have been socialized to view school as something very different than what we do here. It frequently takes a year or two years for students to feel comfortable with asynchronous, competency-based learning and with taking ownership of their own learning. Similarly, at more traditional schools, teaching may look very different. As the role of the teacher changes from "sage on the stage" to facilitator in a competency-based model, so too must the methods of using time and structuring interaction with students.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give to emerging blended-learning programs?

Know your context. It took us a long time to understand who we were serving and working with. Who are your students? Who are their parents? Who are your teachers? What does each group want? What are the strengths of each group? What is each group interested in? It sounds simple, but designing your systems to meet your context is an integral part of starting a blended program dependent on the participation and buy-in of multiple stakeholders.

Program Focus


School Overview

Founded in 2014, The U School is a competency-based public high school that empowers young people to demonstrate their learning through tangible performance tasks. The U School's instructional model centers on competency-based learning, personalized learning, design-based learning, and youth development. Learning goals are organized as competencies -- the knowledge and skills learners must successfully apply in order to solve real world problems. Learners are supported in developing personalized learning plans (PLPs) and in designing learning pathways to reflect their interests, needs, and aspirations. Students lead personal and team-based investigations around the "Great Challenges of Our Time," and develop key skills in research, problem-solving, communications, and taking action. Each student joins an advisory group ("Possi") with peers and mentors to support goal-setting, college and career planning, and social-emotional development. At the U School, all work is rooted in three values: "Love. Dream. Do."

School Contact

The U School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
19122 United States

Telephone: (215)-684-3266

The U School's Website


Total Students

Student Ethnicity

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Blended Program Launched 2014