Learning Progressions

Learning Progressions

Today, the Social Studies research and design team met after school. After a 10 minute introduction and demo slam (check out Google Earth for geography, history, current events exploration), we split up into our respective divisions and choose our own adventures.

The middle school team collaborated on writing a learning progression for 5th Graders using primary sources. It was a fun activity for me. I felt stretched, creative, frustrated, and accomplished at different points throughout the process. My colleagues felt the same, but we all stuck with it and the result is a very solid, first attempt at a learning progress.

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r and d


Developing and Using Learning Progressions as a Schema for Measuring Progress by Karen Hess

Learning Progression Ninja Jill Gough gave us some encouragement and feedback…
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What feedback would you give our team on this learning progression? 

R & D Stations

R & D Stations

R & D Stations

Today, the Social Studies Research & Design Team met (as did R & D teams from several other disciplines). Teachers were given 3 choices:

  • Pick something that interests you from last session’s brainstorm (related to the 4 guiding priorities)
  • Work on the 9th Grade Humanities pilot (learning outcomes, ideas, etc.)
  • Teach social studies through interactive tech (drone w/camera) and badges

Team members collaborated in small groups and as individuals, sharing out at the end of the session…

  • Humanities: who will teach it? will it just be a combo of lit and history or will it include other disciplines like arts, theater, etc.? idea for teaching through geographical areas, idea for have the mindsets be a stronger, guiding factor throughout the course.
  •  1st Grade – each week a new country featured in a key doc. this week, Burundi – they have NO schools, “hurts my soul” – gives new empathy and informs how I teach
  • 7th & 8th Grade – Assessing a new unit, looking at last year’s exam, revising, “when you don’t get to claim your ‘rights.’
  • Lower School revisions of curriculum maps
  • Lower School – finalizing government assessment & proficiency scales

While it is a busy time of year and few folks want to stay late, I am proud to be part of this team. Also, I am grateful for all of the people who worked behind the scenes to make this session happen. I am grateful for the rough drafts and iterations. I am grateful for the feedback and brainstorming. I am thankful for the minutes and hours spent in preparation, and most of all for the positive attitudes. Thank you!

Measuring R & D Priorities


Measuring R & D Priorities

This afternoon, the Social Studies R & D team convened for its 3rd meeting of the year. Our agenda was as follows:

3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. – Gallery walk: Small groups of 3-4 rotate among 4 posters. Each poster contains 1 of the 4 priority goals that every R & D team has been charged with accomplishing. On post it notes, team members write what each one means a) in his/her own classroom and b) for our R & D team at large.

The purpose was to
a) expose and remind team members to these priorities again
b) capture input and build common meaning among team members
c) generate ideas and obstacles as fodder for future meetings.

See the results below. (30 min)
4 cornersbraggpostitspostpost itNext, we used a “poll everywhere” to gauge how the team felt, in general, we were doing as a whole R & D team in regards to accomplishing these 4 priorities. Results are interesting, but scientific accuracy is disputable.Measuring R & D Prioritiespano4:00 p.m. – 4:35 p.m. – Discussions/Workshops: Team members choose 1 of the 4 that they are most interested in exploring in greater detail. They commit by writing their preference down. Two groups are designated as more “conversational” in nature, while the other two are classified as “workshops.” The goal was to try to manage expectations and help team members leave feeling like they ‘got something out of it.’ The feeling in the room was earnest dialogue and diligent production. I’m proud of this team.
4:35 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Share Out/Philosophy:  Finally, each group, pair, or individual shared out what they had accomplished or discussed. We ended by sharing the final draft of our co-written philosophy statement. Shelley read aloud…
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Here is the original draft of the plans for this meeting. We deviated a bit from our original timeline:

15 min – Gallery Walk
60 min – Discussions/Workshops
15 min – Share out/Philosphy


A Brief History of Social Science R & D

A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS

For five years, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the Social Science Research & Design Team at Mount Vernon with Head of Lower School Shelley Clifford. We have worked alongside the incredible teachers from Preschool through Upper School to create, iterate, and reimagine learning outcomes, as well as innovative instructional and assessment strategies. Here is a succinct outline of the highlights of our team’s efforts…

– Audit of current learning outcome practices
– Compare/contrast MVPS learning outcomes to Georgia Performance Standards
– Compare/contrast MVPS learning outcomes to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and others (no common core for social studies)
– Creation of World Impact Curriculum
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS

– Read “Being Global”
– Applied to 3 components of the School’s mission statement (college ready, globally competitive, engaged citizen leader)
– Discussed utility and significance of our learning outcomes (and overall program)
– Teachers shared strategies for infusing “globally competitive” into all classes
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS Screen Shot 2015-09-08 A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 10.52.05 AM2013-2014
– Reimagined what R & D could and should be at a school
– Middle School created and implemented two themed courses (Freedom & Conflict)

A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 2014-2015
– Split PS/LS and MS/US
– MS/US focused on defining units (UbD), simplifying outcomes and attaching essential questions to each unit
– All MS classes are themed (Pioneer Course and Passport/Human Geography)
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 2015-2016
– Stepping back from learning outcomes to clarify overall Social Studies philosophy at MVPS
– more TBD…

There are 4 over-arching goals or purposes for All R & D Teams at MVPS…

  • Foster a deeper, shared understanding and continued iteration of learning outcomes
  • Design and curate demonstrations of learning and evidence of understanding
  • Explore paths of implementation within respective discipline and make connections across disciplines
  • Utilize the Design Principles & Practice (Learning Essentials) from MV Continuum