"The Coolest School in America": How Small Learning Communities are Changing Everything

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Doug Thomas, Walter Enloe, Ronald J. Newell
R&L Education, 2005 - Education - 164 pages
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Imagine a school with no classrooms, bells, or textbooks where students work at their own pace, are not graded, and are able to decide what to study. Have you ever heard of a school where teachers have control of the learning program, the hiring and retention of personnel, and are responsible for the success of the school? This book, based on a little school in a rural town of Minnesota, describes the creation of and development of learning communities that are changing the conversation about what schools can be and do. The book is divided into three sections: the founding of the Minnesota New Country School, a world renowned small learning community that created a student and teacher ownership model that is being replicated, collected essays by extended community members, contributing consultants, and interested parties that have been influenced by and have influenced the development of new learning communities based on the model, results from some of the learning communities. For teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, or any educator interested in taking reform to another level.

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Little Did We Know
Putting Ideas to Work
Student Ownership Teacher Ownership
The EdVisions Project Approach Facilitating Student Choice
Building the Learning Community
Building a Learning Community The Conscious Pursuit of an Idea
Democratic Circles
Experiential Learning Why ProjectBased Learning Works
Some Results of the Learning Communities
MNCS Graduates Telling Lived Stories
Constituting a Democratic Learning Community The Avalon Experience
Why Are These Schools Cool? Voices of the Students and Parents
About the Editors

Teaching Excellence through PlaceBased Projects

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About the author (2005)

Doug Thomas has been the director of the Gates-EdVisions Project since the reception of the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to replicate the MNCS and EdVisions model. Walter Enloe is a teacher in Hamline University's Graduate School of Education. He has been a consultant with EdVisions since 2000. Ron Newell is presently working with the replication efforts of the Gates-EdVisions Project. Previously, he taught high school history and social studies for 25 years.

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