THE FWSU STORY: Moving Innovation Forward

Get better every day.

Sounds simple and it is something FWSU strives to do. So how do we do it? There are many ways that we try to improve our system overall to make it more responsive to family and students. And also to make our schools as innovative as possible. One of biggest drivers of our school improvement efforts over the last several years is our membership in the Digital Promise League of Innovative Schools.

FWSU is one of 93 members in the League and one of two member districts in New England. League members are selected through a peer-reviewed application process. The League is an organization that brings together the most innovative schools in the nation to working together, to learn together on shared priorities, and to find solutions to make our schools better. League schools also partner with leading entrepreneurs, researchers, and educational leaders to pioneer innovative learning and leadership practices. These practices lead to improved outcomes for students that help prepare them for lifelong learning.

Since becoming part of the League, FWSU has continued to design, champion, and scale effective, innovative learning opportunities to advance equity and excellence for every student. The League has opened opportunities for our students, that would not have ordinarily been available to small rural districts. Here are a few examples:

  • BFA Fairfax Middle School participated in a unique research opportunity sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The NSF is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering. The project, Playing with Data, is a three-year research and development study to investigate how to support middle school science teachers in using data from students’ digital gameplay for formative assessment and differentiated instruction.
  • Students in Fletcher worked with Digital Promise Global on an initiative that supports innovation, by providing students worldwide with cutting edge technology to solve real-world problems.  The project was part of the Hewlett-Packard-Microsoft’s Reinvent the classroom initiative, which aims to provide and support next-generation learning, international collaboration and the “maker” movement in education.
  • FWSU has been named one of nine schools in the country to participate in a NSF Challenge Collaborative to help develop K-12 Computational Thinking Pathways. Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer can effectively carry out (i.e. – coding). Our system will share its knowledge, best practices, learnings, and frameworks around computational thinking with Digital Promise and other participating districts over the course of three years. What we learning and frameworks we establish will be published as part of a public-facing toolkit
  • FWSU was one of the League schools featured in published “playbook” that was shared with schools all over the country on implementing proficiency-based education.

Partnering with entrepreneurs, researchers, and leading education thinkers and serving as a test-bed for new approaches to teaching and learning has benefited our schools. Learning from the above experiences, as well as other League schools, has led to many innovative changes in all of our schools. Since joining the League each of our schools has established Innovation Labs, expanded computer science education, expanded our global education work and put a focus on improving outcomes for our students with the smart use of learning technologies.

Stay tuned for what is next for FWSU!

http://digitalpromise.org/initiative/league-of-innovative-schools/

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