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Reinventing the Rural Classroom

Reinventing the Rural Classroom

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Reinventing the Rural Classroom

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  1. Reinventing the Rural Classroom Exploring the Problems of Rural Education at the Classroom Level

  2. Problems facing rural education: George Norris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=I9cgWsR5i3U

  3. Introduction • In the age of consolidation, economic instability, and increasing urbanization, it’s easy to forget about our rural neighbors. • There isn’t just one definition for a “rural community.” They are as diverse and differentiated as our cities. • Since most rural areas are relatively small groupings of politically inactive communities, policy has failed to address rural education’s unique challenges.

  4. In this presentation: • Discuss PBL and recount a success story • Discuss community schools and give an example • Point out the common threads along with references for further reading. • Discuss the biases and lack of research in regard to rural education.

  5. Place-Based Education • Definition: • An educational approach that makes the school a vital resource for the community and, in this process, creates a new real-world context for learning. • Why rural schools? • Utilizes a strong local culture. • Fosters community involvement. • Addresses the unique problems rural communities face. (“Place-based learning offers,” 2011)

  6. PBL Challenges • Consolidation • Bussing students to more urban districts takes away the community emphasis needed for place-based education. • State-Wide Standards • Focus on a curriculum for all students takes away the context of the community and the school’s importance in that community. • Underfunding • Hard recruit qualified teachers. • Pay-for-performance initiatives make rural, underfunded schools with low test scores an unattractive option. (Jennings, N., Swindler, S, & Koliba, C., 2005) (“Place-based learning offers, 2011)

  7. Successful Stories:Rappahannock County High School

  8. Questions to ask before starting PBL. • “What are the needs and interests of the community? • How can the school meet them? • Can we meet them while teaching the required academic content? • Would the work be appreciated in the community? • Would the work be competitive with something else in the community?” (Making the school useful, 2006)

  9. What are the needs and interests of the community? • Desire to have more community involvement and a more connected society. • Push for going organic and supporting local farms. • A push for less tracking but more integrated vocational education. (Making the school useful, 2006)

  10. How can the school meet them? • Farm-to-Table • Culinary Arts • Geospatial Technologies Class • RCHS Greenhouse • EMT Training/Daytime Providers • Building Trades (Making the school useful, 2006)

  11. Can we meet them while teaching the required academic content? • School Day Structure: • 4x4 semester-long block schedule • Off campus in community sites part of every day • Extensive liability policies and parent involvement • Vocational Classes • “Integrated with academic content” • Reduced tracking because all students take vocational classes AND college prep courses. • The Teachers • Create curriculum hat focuses on needs of community • Extensive appreciation from community • Mini-grants from Headwaters to encourage innovative classroom initiatives and support professional development. (Making the school useful, 2006)

  12. What can other rural schools learn? • Open-mindedness • Community-school partnership needs collaboration from a lot of different kinds of people. • Expectations and Standards • Develop content applicable to the real-world. • Make standards high and give extensive support to ensure they meet them. • Teachers • Support them emotionally and financially whenever possible (Making the school useful, 2006)

  13. More on Project-Based Learning • The New Country School, Minnesota • (Not included in presentation because it is a charter school) http://www.whatkidscando.org/archives/portfoliosmallschools/MNCS.html

  14. Community SchoolsNot just a curriculum:a center for community life.

  15. Community Schools • They are schools that serve both the student body and the school. • Become a hub for community life through support programs and active investment. • Useful for rural areas because they are a place to congregate in a sprawling rural area. • A collaborative space between the community and the student-body. (Williams, D.T., 2010)

  16. Nobel High School, York County, ME

  17. What are the needs and interests of the community? • Poverty level skewed because of proximity to Kennebunkport. • 1070 students attending a school built for 550. • Sprawling land without enough transportation. • Lack of health care, early childhood programs, adult education. (Williams, D.T., 2010)

  18. How can the school meet them? • Planning committee decided to design a school that: • Builds a sense of community in the 8 towns it serves. • Emphasize community service • Provide education, child care, and health care services to all community members. • Create small work places that foster collaborative, project-based learning. (Williams, D.T., 2010)

  19. Can we meet them while teaching the required academic content? • Focus on Project-Based Learning • Teacher as a facilitator • Group work • Active inquiry and research • Provide real-world experience and academic credit in the established community programs.

  20. The Result • School contains: • Health care services. • Free early childhood programs • Culinary arts program including a 50 person restaurant open all day. • Adult education with free child care • Performing arts space • Curriculum: • Study opportunities at all of the above • 60 hours required community service • Project-based learning with presentations (Williams, D.T., 2010)

  21. What can we learn? • Could be a new turnaround plan for rural schools. • Emphasize community involvement including local teaching certification programs. • Joint ownership and membership of school by community creates a space in which everyone is invested. (Williams, D.T., 2010)

  22. So…why does this matter? • PBL and Community Schools are examples of successful initiative going on that directly address the problems that face rural education. • They also often include project-based learning, agricultural focus, and many other variables. • Rural schools are unique and the curriculum needs to address these local variations! • Not one size fits all!

  23. Common Threads • Keeping it small and in the community! • Collaboration • Strong leadership and openness • Emphasis on personalized learning • Emphasis on using the resources available instead of grappling with lack of resources.

  24. Common Threads: Community Involvement • See Studio H in Bertie County, NC: • http://www.studio-h.org/

  25. Common Threads:Leadership • See: Masumoto & Brown-Welty (2009) • This article investigates the effects of leadership in three high achieving, high poverty rural schools in California. • It discusses an approach to rural education that does not necessarily revolve around place-based initiatives. • Food for Thought: • How did these schools create an environment where leadership could thrive and become a productive force? • How do we get leaders to go to these communities and/or how do we get the leaders already in the community to stand up for education?

  26. Common Threads:Political and Local Agency Involvement. • See Jennings, Swindler, & Koliba (2005) • Discusses how multiple non-profits and other agencies used the standards movement as a way to institutionalized place-based education. • Food for Thought: • Since Vermont has a relatively large, politically active rural population, how can we use their example to help smaller, politically underrepresented communities characteristic of rural areas?

  27. What’s missing? • Quantitative research on the effectiveness of PBL and similar initiatives. • Extensive review of literature on PBL. • For some discussion of PBL literature see: Ball & Lai (2006). • Extensive review of rural research and scholarship in general. • For an extensive discussion of the state of scholarship in rural education see DeYoung, (1987) • Though relatively old, this article shows some of the historical trends in rural education research.

  28. References. Ball, E.L., & Lai, A. (2006), Place-based pedagogy for the arts and humanities. Pedagogy, 6 (2), 261-267. DeYoung, A.J. (1987). The status of American rural education research: An integrated review and commentary. Review of Education Research, 57 (2), 123-148. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1170233 . Jennings, N., Swidler, S., & Koliba, C. (2005). Place-based education in the standards-based reform era—Conflict or compliment? American Journal of Education, 112 (1), 44-65. doi:10.1086/444522 Johnson, J., & Strange, M. (2005). Why rural policy matters, 2005: The facts about rural education in the 50 states. Retrieved from Rural School and Community Trust website: http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=2092. Making the school useful to the community-- Rappahannock County, Virginia. (2006, April). Rural Policy Matters, 8(4), Retrieved from http://www.ruraledu.org/user_uploads/file/rpm/rpm8_4.pdf

  29. Masumoto, M., & Brown-Welty, S. (2009). Case study of leadership practices and school-community interrelationships in high-performing, high-poverty, rural California high schools. Journal of research in rural education, 24(9). Retrievedfrom http://jrre.psu.edu/articles/24-1.pd Place-based learning offers opportunities for high-poverty rural schools. (2011, September).Rural Policy Matters, 13(9), Retrieved from http://www.ruraledu.org/user_uploads/file/rpm/RPM13_09.pdf Williams, D.T. (2010). The rural solution: How community schools can invigorate rural education. Retrieved from the Center for American Progress website: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/pdf/ruralschools.pdf