Engaged Learning ModelFrequently Asked Questions
Why has Alvin ISD implemented the Engaged Learning Model?
Alvin ISD is a dynamic learning organization committed to excellence for all students and every program. As such, our goals for our students extend far beyond the walls of a classroom. We want them to be successful thinkers, innovators, and problem-solvers in a global, ever-changing marketplace. Top employers and universities care about content knowledge, but their ideal applicants also possess other critical soft skills. As we commit to prepare all of our students in the endeavors they desire for their future, it is vital that we adopt a model that considers how we can develop those attributes, along with meeting the standards set forth by the state of Texas in every subject.
What is the Engaged Learning Model?
The Engaged Learning Model in Alvin ISD represents our core beliefs. We believe positive, appropriate relationships form the foundation of everything we do. We believe designing engaging lessons begins with considering our students and their unique skills and interests, which leads to more profound learning. Aligning the work we design to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) will lead to higher levels of student achievement. We believe student success, both now and in the future, depends on facilitating the development of skills identified by the Alvin ISD community in the Learner Profile.Is the teacher important in Alvin ISD Engaged Learning Model classrooms?
In an Alvin ISD classroom, the teacher is a critical part of the learning process. Teachers work individually and in teams to design work that will engage the learners in their classrooms by appealing to student strengths and building on student weaknesses. Teachers carefully consider the standards outlined by the state and ensure that the designed work allows our students to master the standards. Throughout the learning process, teachers must continually assess students to keep track of individual progress, as well as identify those times when work should be redesigned or modified because students have not yet mastered the standards. The teacher's work in every Alvin ISD classroom is much the same as a teacher's work in a classroom that is implementing project-based learning. No matter how the classroom is structured, the teacher plays an important role in the success of all students. Teachers also work to foster positive, appropriate relationships using the structured Capturing Kids’ Hearts model with each student because students are at the heart of what we do. When your child knows he or she is cared for and valued at school, it greatly enhances his or her ability to learn, perform, contribute, and succeed.
What standards does the Alvin ISD Engaged Learning Model refer to?
The term standards is another word for learning objectives. In Texas, all educators teach the content outlined in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), which identify specific objectives for each grade level and subject. Click here to view the TEKS for each course
What programs does Alvin ISD use to support the components of Design, Standards, and Relationships?
The Schlechty Center: Working on the Work, Coaching for Design
AP Institute at Rice
Dual Credit program
Building Academic Vocabulary
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)
English Language Proficiency Standards
Capturing Kids’ Hearts
Donuts with Dad/Muffins with Mom
What exactly are these soft skills they are using and learning about?
Alvin ISD hosted a series of Community Education Summits in the Spring of 2014. Parents, business leaders, elected officials, students, Alvin ISD teachers and staff reviewed various resources and research relating to the skills that will be most critical for our students to possess. Through their work, an "Alvin ISD Learner Profile" was developed and includes the following skills:
Statement: The future ready learner is a strategic communicator. They understand the importance of and can demonstrate effective communication in a variety of contexts. They effectively communicate orally, in writing, and nonverbally. They embrace the role of effective communication in learning, collaboration, sharing, and leading:
Statement: The future ready learner assesses problems, develops solutions, and acts to achieve results.
Statement: The future ready learner will develop innovative ideas by expanding the boundaries of creativity.
Problem Solves, Analyzes Data, and Thinks Critically
Statement: The future ready learner will be inquisitive, ask critical questions, collect and evaluate data in order to improve learning, and apply knowledge.
The future ready learner is aware that the world is changing at a fast pace. They recognize the necessity to innovate and adapt to various settings while becoming college and/or career ready.
Statement: The future ready learner is empathetic. They exhibit qualities such as compassion and open-mindedness. They value the feelings, thoughts, differences, and experiences of others.
Statement: The future ready learner is ethically minded. They demonstrate qualities such as honesty, integrity, and respectfulness.
Statement: The future ready learner is ready for a global workforce. They have respect for various cultures and appreciate linguistic diversity. They have the opportunity to explore various career options without the limitations of a language barrier.
Project-Based Learning Specific Questions
What is Project-Based Learning?
Project-based learning (PBL) is a method of instruction that asks students to learn through completing authentic challenges, for a real-world audience, through a teacher-designed standards-based unit. Teachers clearly identify learning objectives and expectations based on the appropriate rigor of the standard or topic. Then, students form teams and set their own team norms and expectations, and take on important roles to facilitate the team's success in the challenge. For example, one student might fulfill the role of a "project manager" while another takes on the task of managing effective communication within the team. Through these roles and challenges, students not only gain critical content knowledge, based on the TEKS for the subject, they also build and refine important skills, like critical thinking and communication. Teachers design PBL units to include all of the resources, research, direct teaching, and activities seen in a traditional classroom, but students have the opportunity to spend some of their time learning in a way that suits them best.
What are protocols and what do students do in each of the protocols?
PBL in Alvin ISD has a defined set of protocols (Launch/Team, Plan, Research/Work, Create/Crit, and Share) to guide the students through the challenge, and each protocol offers an opportunity for feedback from the teacher and peers, as well as periods of assessment to ensure students are gaining the required knowledge.
Launch/Team - Students will be presented a real world, authentic problem to solve. They will work with their team to create team norms and expectations. Once the group develops their team norms, the group will sign their team contract.
Plan - Under the direction of the teacher, students will analyze the challenge brief and rubric. They will develop a list of “knows/need to knows”. Students will also develop research questions that drive their research. The teacher critiques the research questions to make sure the students addressed all of the project requirements to ensure the questions lead to the desired learning outcomes based on the standards in the unit.
Research/Work -Students will research their questions. They will participate in teacher directed workshops, and DIY’s. During research/work, students seek answers to their questions through teacher-given resources, such as websites, the textbook, articles, etc. Students share their research with the group, and all students in the group are responsible for knowing the answers to all of the questions, not just the ones they answered. The teacher actively monitors and re-directs students through this process.
Create/Crit - Students will create their product and receive warm and cool feedback from their peers and/or teacher.
Share - Students will share their product with an authentic audience.
Is my student learning everything on his or her own or from other students? Is the teacher, who is an expert in the subject, still going to teach my child?
While at first glance it might seem as though the students are entirely responsible for their own learning, the teacher is constantly delivering knowledge and instruction directly to the student. Each unit has a list of resources hand-picked by the teacher, to direct students to reliable, appropriate research sources that support the TEKS/standards the students are expected to master. These resources include all of the tools students and teachers have always used in the classroom, such as the textbook, video clips, articles, web sites, etc. The teacher also delivers workshops to small groups of students in a variety of ways from selecting students to attend based on needs, to offering it to those who want to attend, as well as teaching whole-class workshops when the need arises.
In addition, the teacher designs and selects do-it-yourself activities (DIYS) that reinforce the learning in a similar way to the traditional classroom through independent practice, drills, note-taking, etc. The benefit of DIYs, over traditional classroom activities, is that a student gets immediate feedback on his or her learning, without the need to wait for a teacher to return graded papers. Tutoring is also available for students who need further help mastering the standards.
The primary difference in a PBL classroom is that students are expected to take on more responsibility for tracking their learning and making some decisions about what they need to master the standards. This allows students to evaluate how they learn best, then incorporate those sorts of activities into their learning process.
In a PBL classroom, do all students in the same group receive the same grade?
No, not at all. All students in all classes are assessed on their own knowledge and receive grades accordingly. Specifically, in a PBL classroom, there are graded individual progress checks and other assessments in place throughout each challenge so that the teacher can gauge the effort, learning, and mastery of each student on his or her own merit.
In a PBL classroom, does one student do all the work?
Based on the way PBL is designed in Alvin ISD, it is impossible for one student to do all the work while others "coast" by. Each team member has a clearly defined role, and units are designed in such a way that maximum participation from every team member is vital for success. In addition, each student on the team is responsible for all of the knowledge and information gathered during the scope of the unit. Because the teacher continually assesses student learning, kids who aren't working are quickly identified and redirected. Finally, PBL in Alvin ISD includes guidelines for team members to document the actions of anyone who chooses not to participate appropriately. The teacher helps mediate these issues, but if they persist, there is a protocol in place that allows team members to to be removed from the group, which results in those students being required to complete the entire project on his or her own.
What is done for special student populations in the PBL classroom?
Teachers will continue to modify curriculum and accommodate the needs of all learners, just as they have always done in any model. Students receiving accommodations through special education will receive all of the accommodations and modifications that have been determined to allow them to achieve success.
PBL sounds like a lot of “fun”, but how is it preparing my student for real work? What about testing?
PBL units tackle real-world problems and issues, and the questions your student will work to answer in each unit require them to think much more critically about open-ended, difficult questions than they would be expected to in a traditional classroom. Not only will your child gain a deeper understanding of the subject's content, he or she will also build skills that are vital and applicable to success outside of high school.
In regards to testing, your child's teachers will design units that specifically address the standards set forth by the state of Texas. State testing is based on these standards, so your child will have the content knowledge he or she needs to do well. In addition, your child will still be exposed to the format and language of the standardized tests through progress checks, warm-ups, end of class quizzes, and full-length tests that mirror STAAR and EOC exams.