Junior Academy Introduces Summit Learning

Junior Academy Introduces Summit Learning
Posted on 09/18/2018
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For 7th-8th grade students at HSSD Junior Academy, Summit Learning has been introduced as the new learning platform for English, math, science and social studies. Summit offers a unique approach for educators because it enables students to learn academic content at their own pace, and provides data-driven feedback to teachers about how to make lessons and projects more tailored to individual student needs. More than 330 schools nationwide (in 2017-2018, 70% were public schools) are Summit Learning Program participants. The focus of the program is student learning, rather than student grading, and represents an entirely different approach to learning and to teaching.

7th grade science teachers Mrs. Lara Veazey shares her experience as a Team Lead for Summit Learning: “The educational needs of students are constantly changing. Educators need to be able to change with education in order to meet those individual needs. Traditional classrooms were cookie cutter, where every student was doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. Students learn in different ways and at different intervals of time, therefore they need to be able to move on if they know the material and they need to be able to have help and slow down if they do not. In order to make sure all students are challenged and master content, we need to be able to modify and extend lessons to meet those needs. Summit Learning is perfect for that,” she said.

“Students can choose how they want to learn academic content. Teachers are more free to work one to one or in small groups with students, pushing them to excel. With Summit Learning, gone are the days of pass/fail. Students are in more control of their grades and are given opportunities to be successful. They are able to go back at any time and make corrections to projects or assessments as they delve deeper into cognitive skills, setting ALL students up for success,” she said.

Summit represents cutting edge technology for Garland County students, and developed its online Summit Learning Platform with help from the engineers of Facebook and other leaders in the technology industry. The Learning Platform is the primary tool used by teachers and students to set and track student goals, learn content at an individualized pace, and complete deeper learning projects that focus on real-life experiences. Students choose how to learn from playlists of videos, animations, exercises and texts.

The Summit Learning program does not take the place of teachers. Students build content knowledge by working at their own pace and take assessments on demand via a personal computer. The base curriculum in Summit is aligned with state-required standards for Arkansas students and required standards for International Baccalaureate students by HSSD teachers. Each course includes meaningful projects, playlists of content and assessments, all of which can be customized. Teachers can adapt or create new playlists and projects to meet their students' needs. Most importantly, teachers are able to let Summit handle core lessons so that they can focus on creating customized instruction, memorable projects, and engaging mentoring opportunities to shape the specific needs of students.

Summit Learning does not create a classroom of students engrossed in computer screens all day. Educators focus their classroom time on facilitating hands-on projects, and the teaching of cognitive skills that matter to students in real-life such as asking questions and engaging in dialogue, speaking, listening, notetaking, deriving meaning, thinking critically, and working as part of a team. Teachers access student data on a daily basis and make adjustments to their lessons based on student progress through the curriculum. The data-driven feedback allows for teachers to make the most efficient use of their lecture and project time, and create content and presentations that are most relevant to student learning needs and interests.

Parents stay connected to student progress through the Summit Learning Platform. The goal of the Summit program is for students to become self-directed learners over the course of a school year. Through a log-in, parents can track student progress through material and understand problem areas as they arise. Parents also quickly learn about how to help students navigate the learning options and assessment options available through the platform. Students have all year to revisit assessments and materials that they could improve upon. Students can choose by playlists how they best learn from content offered, with choices to receive lessons through videos, podcasts, animations, and more.  The Summit Learning Platform can also send bi-weekly text message updates to report on student performance. Parent involvement and encouragement is vital to making this new program succeed for students.

Mrs. Veasey describes a Summit assignment in a Junior Academy Classroom: “When I begin a new project, I show them what the final product will look like. Students begin with the end in mind.   We start out all together when I push out the first assignment or checkpoint. As students work through the first assignment, individual needs start to emerge. If I see students struggling, I can pull a small workshop to help them to be successful. If students are doing great and are ready to move on, they can do so,” she said.

“Since I teach science, there are labs throughout the project that students can explore. Students are also given adequate time for Student Directed Learning (SDL). They are exposed to objectives and are given resources based on different learning styles. Students can then choose which way they like to learn the core content, whether that be reading, video or interactive games. The hands-on portion is implemented through lab stations,” she said.

Learn more about Summit Learning, here. Learn more about Hot Springs Junior Academy, here.

Find Summit resources for parents via the Summit Learning Blog:

  • Article - Hear from a parent about how she supported her son’s journey with Summit Learning, here

  • Article - Learn more about the history of Summit Learning, here

  • Video - Hear from Parents about why Summit Learning works for their children, here.

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