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

Front Cover
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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Contents

Little Did We Know
3
Putting Ideas to Work
9
Student Ownership Teacher Ownership
19
The EdVisions Project Approach Facilitating Student Choice
29
Building the Learning Community
39
Building a Learning Community The Conscious Pursuit of an Idea
41
Democratic Circles
59
Experiential Learning Why ProjectBased Learning Works
73
Some Results of the Learning Communities
103
MNCS Graduates Telling Lived Stories
105
Constituting a Democratic Learning Community The Avalon Experience
121
Why Are These Schools Cool? Voices of the Students and Parents
133
Afterword
151
Index
159
About the Editors
163
Copyright

Teaching Excellence through PlaceBased Projects
85

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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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