Joel Rose, founder of the School of One, is leaving the New York City Department of Education
The founder of the School of One, one of the city's most touted educational innovations, will expand that model nationally — by leaving the city Department of Education that helped him create it. The founder, Joel Rose, announced his move in an email to colleagues this morning.
The School of One is part of a national effort to re-imagine how teaching and learning happen at schools by taking advantage of technology. At the three schools that work with the School of One model in New York City, teachers still lead instruction, but they do so with the aid of a "learning algorithm" that creates a personalized program of study for every student.
The idea is to free educators from the more rote elements of school and let them, as Rose put it to us in 2009, "focus on is the hardest part of the equation, which is delivering great lessons." In the first pilot of the program, a summer math program launched in 2009, School of One reported that its students learned significantly faster, citing externally commissioned research.
The three schools will continue to operate under the guidance of the Innovation Zone, or iZone, team inside Tweed Courthouse. But with Rose's departure, the national apparatus around School of One — from press attention to large foundation grants — will leave the Department of Education and follow him to a new nonprofit he plans to create.
The move raises questions about New York City's capacity to act as an incubator for educational innovation. For one, will programs incubated by the iZone stay in New York City for the long haul? Or will they follow the School of One's path: attracting national attention for a few years and then seeking another home?
Collin Lawrence is a former New York City teacher who is recounting his four years working at a Brooklyn high school. Read Collin’s previous posts.
After my project-based learning experiment failed to produce significant gains in my students' understanding of history, I changed course for the second semester. I adopted a highly structured curriculum, built around one-week mini-units, covering a chronology of world history from the Enlightenment through the Cold War. My tenth-grade students would take the Regents exam in global history at end of the school year, and I needed to make up for a lot of lost time with them.
Each mini-unit focused on an era (the Enlightenment, World Wars) or a theme (industrialization, imperialism). I created a packet for each one, and handed it out to the students during class on a Monday. The students would have four class days to work through the packet before being assessed on Friday.
I spent hours creating those packets. Each one asked students to define and use key vocabulary, answer comprehension questions about main ideas, and reflect on connections between the topic and their own lives. I also offered "extension" exercises to higher-level students who finished early. The packets represented my best attempt to satisfy competing demands: differentiated instruction, student-centered learning, covering content, and forging the path of least resistance in terms of my own classroom management.
The students responded positively.