One of FSI’s innovative approaches to collaborative teaching and learning is our Literacy Lab. In the tradition of Expeditionary Learning, the Franklin School of Innovation involves students in the real work of scientists, historians, mathematicians, writers, artists, and musicians, while supporting them to think, solve problems, and communicate solutions critically, creatively and contextually in these disciplines. Literacy is a cross-curricular component in each discipline. Therefore, students are expected to read and to write works of fiction and nonfiction, including primary and secondary source documents, complex texts that provide facts and background knowledge in areas such as science and social studies. Students are challenged to interact with these texts, asking and being asked questions that push them to refer back to what they’ve read and to write effectively for a variety of audiences and purposes. Such active reading and writing necessitates critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are required for success in college, career, and life.
To support our students in mastery of literacy standards across the curriculum, the Franklin School of Innovation has developed a school wide course (per grade level) called Literacy Lab. Each student will meet weekly, according to their grade level schedule, with a Literacy Lab Leader. Our Literacy Lab Leaders will work with students, individually and in small groups, to facilitate growth through formative and summative tasks, including the Anchor Standards and Power Learning Targets for Reading, Writing, and Research across all subjects. Students and teachers will work together to identify specific tasks and projects for Literacy Lab that reflect the characteristics of Deeper Learning. FSI students are engaged in their own data assessment and practice self-reflection in setting SMART goals.
Literacy Lab ensures that all FSI students have the opportunity to:
1. Demonstrate independence.
Students are self-directed and can effectively solve problems and find resources on their own to produce quality work.
2. Build strong content knowledge.
Students work hard to learn about the world through careful reading, observing, and listening, and they study and research
3. Respond to the varying demands of audience, task, purpose, and discipline.
Students always think about the purpose of what they write and say—who who the audience is, what the purpose is, what kind of language they should use.
4. Comprehend, as well as critique.
Students keep an open mind, but think carefully about the truth and quality of what they read and hear.
5. Value evidence.
Students use evidence to explain their ideas, when speaking and writing, and look for evidence in the arguments of others.
6. Use technology and digital media strategically and capably.
Students thoughtfully use computers and other technology to learn and create, and they are careful to check information for accuracy and perspective.
7. Understand other perspectives and cultures.
Students appreciate and learn from people in other cultures and work to understand the thoughts and feelings of others, in the past and present.
FSI Literacy Lab curriculum maps are based on the Common Core Curriculum Standards for literacy skills across the content areas of Social Studies, Science, and Technology. Our Curriculum Coach, content area teachers, and our Literacy Lab instructors collaboratively use backwards planning to design projects, lessons, and assignments that support mastery of literacy learning targets. This collaboration alsoallows for greater differentiation and fosters Habits of Scholarship in all disciplines.
Criteria for tasks and assignments that foster Deeper Learning:
Learning is planned to meet and exceed standards
· The lesson is designed to address grade-level standards and learning targets.
· Students are working at tasks that are clearly aligned with these standards and targets.
Learning is purposeful and connected to the real world
· What students are doing is relevant for them because it is explicitly connected to authentic personal and/or societal questions and issues.
· When appropriate, the work students are doing simulates professional work that happens in this discipline or field.
· Learning often involves problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity
Learning is challenging, active, and engaging
· The work is cognitively rigorous as well as relevant.
· Students are applying, analyzing, evaluating, and/or creating during a significant portion of the lesson. They are not simply remembering or regurgitating textbook answers.
· Students are engaged in productive work throughout the class.
· The teacher regularly uses techniques that encourage all students to participate and be accountable for learning.
· Student achievements and quality work foster pride in their accomplishments.
Learning involves making mistakes and revising to improve
· The lesson makes room for students to struggle individually and collectively.
· The lesson provides space for uncertainty, puzzling, and/or playful exploration.
· The teacher explicitly and implicitly communicates a growth mindset to students.
Learning results from reading, thinking, talking, and writing
· Teachers and students ask questions that promote critical thinking and further inquiry.
· Students are given sustained opportunities to ask questions and engage in scholarly dialogue with other students.
· Students ask and answer questions that require reading, writing, and using evidence from sources.
Learning fosters collaboration, communication, and responsibility
· Students collaborate and engage in structured group work/discourse in order to learn.
· Students have specific roles and responsibilities for group work.
· Students share responsibility for group work, but are individually assessed on their own contributions and learning.
Learning is goal-oriented in both the short- and long-term
· The teacher involves students in discussing and creating learning targets and criteria for success with students to promote student ownership of learning
· The teacher provides frequent feedback to students along the way and teaches student how to self-assess, revise, and describe how they learn
· Students transfer their understanding and strategies for learning to new contexts
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Releasing responsibility. Educational Leadership, 32-37.
Mehta, J., & Fine, S. (2013). Deeper Learning Inventory Tool.
Peterson, D. S., & Taylor, B. M. (2012). Using higher order questioning to accelerate students’ growth in reading. The Reading Teacher, 65(5), 295-6