10 Steps to Smarter Schools

Dennis Littky is co-founder of The Met school in Rhode Island, Big Picture Learning and College Unbound. If you don’t know about these projects, you should!

Here’s a current article of his in the Rhode Island Monthly –  Ten Steps to Smarter Schools

10 Steps . . . for smarter schools
“If you’re not standing on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” – Dennis Littky, Big Picture Learning

1)  Create individual learning plans.
The basics of reading, writing, math and scientific thinking apply to any discipline, so let’s build lessons around each student’s interests and goals. When students are motivated and engaged, they stick with school.

2)  Involve families.
Parents are a child’s first teacher and know their student best. Schools need to do all they can to get parents involved – and not just when something is wrong. Parents will make it a priority. They just haven’t been asked.

3) Focus on real-world learning.
Memorizing facts is the lowest level of learning, yet it’s what we ask our students to do most . . .

4)  Foster questions, not answers.
Curiosity is a powerful motivator. . .

5)  Evaluate skills.
Answering a, b, c, d, or e on a standardized multiple-choice test doesn’t reflect a student’s ability to put knowledge into action. . .

6)  Use technology wisely.

7)  Support great teachers.
We must work hard to have only the very best teachers in our schools. Teacher training colleges need to get future teachers thinking innovatively about what school should be, not preparing teachers for the schools of yesterday.

8)  Focus on college completion.

9)  Make schools, not districts, accountable.
Teachers, principals, parents and students know their school the best. They should have enough control to design some of the measures  . . .

10)  Do everything at once.
Tweaking around the edges hasn’t created noticeable change or narrowed the achievement gap in our country.  We must reinvent.
I especially like #10 – “Do everything at once.”