True Parent Empowerment

Florida is reconsidering a bill that has been commonly called the Parent Trigger law.  California was the first state to actually make Parent Trigger a law.  The law has been spun to present a picture of empowered parents uniting a community to save a failing school.  In my experience, there has never been anything further from the truth.

I was the school board president of the Adelanto Elementary School District when Parent Revolution, a lobbyist group, bullied our small California school district with lawsuits into accepting the parent trigger petition.

The Parent Trigger Law essentially states that the signatures of a simple majority of parents in a failing school can force the district into one of five intervention models.

The intervention models are as followed:

1.  Transformation – Replace the principal.

2.  Turn Around – Replace the principal and 50% of all staff.

3.  Restart – Convert the school into a charter.

4.  Closure – Close the school.

5.  Alternative Governance – Any other major restructuring of the school’s governance.

Parent Revolution devised a two-petition strategy to get parent signatures.  The first petition, the popular choice among the parents, was described as being along the lines of the Alternative Governance model.  The second petition was considered to be the back up plan and called for converting the school into a charter school.  All the parents from both sides of the issue told the school board that they did not want Desert Trails Elementary School to be a charter school.  Yet it was the charter school petition that was submitted to the board.

Many parents felt that the signature process misled them.  They asked the school board to remove their signatures from the petition.  We honored their request and the number of signatures fell below the simple majority needed to make the petition valid.  That was not to be the end.  The board supported many of the reforms mentioned by the parents and set in motion action to implement them.  Parent Revolution was not satisfied and took the district to court.  The judge ruled that it was not up to the district to allow parents to change their mind and revoke their signatures – even if they felt misled.

Just to be clear, the district worked with the parents and teacher union to bring reforms to Desert Trails. The reforms included adding instructional minutes to the school day, a new curriculum, staff development, an infusion of technology, a memorandum of understanding with the teacher union, signed pledges by teachers to support these reforms, a school site coach to support the reforms, an elected council to oversee the reforms, and of course, an excellent principal to make it happen. In short, what the parents wanted.

Politics and the law threw all that away to bring a charter that only a minority group of parents were even eligible to help select.  Yes, only the parents that signed the petition were allowed to vote for the charter school selection and only a fraction actually voted.  That is not bringing a community together, but creating an elitist group to wrest public schools away from the community.  I am convinced that only the private sector without public funds and without strings attached grants will provide an alternative education that is re-imagined for the century we live in.

Just to clarify. I do not support privatizing public schools. The management of public schools should not be handed over to private companies. If they were any good they wouldn’t need to hijack public schools to get publicly funded tuition. I’m just at the point where I know that the creativity and innovation needed to bring education into the 21st century will not come from the entrenched bureaucracy and politics of public education.

I’m promoting a radical change in education.  Consider the technology we have today.  Research what we now know about the brain and learning.  Look at where our current school system is inadequate.  How would you re-imagine education if a system had to be created today?

I thought of Coach Lerning Academies.  Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education. Regionally accredited independent studies schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery. It is still in the developmental stage. Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies. Coach Michael Lerning is the central character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

Parents and students enjoy a lot of flexibility with this model.  Most of the content delivery is online with gamified story lines.  Students have access to this 24 hours a day.  Parents have the flexibility of signing their children up for enrichment activities at any of the Official Coach Lerning Academies.  Students earn credit by demonstrating mastery of content through problem-solving projects at any of the academies.  Mastery of content is reported with earned digital badges that list actual accomplishments and not by report cards with vague inaccurate grades.  Grade levels are determined by mastery level – not by age group.  This is real parental choice.  This is real parent empowerment.  This is a real 21st century concept of education.

Alas, it is not currently a reality.  It is a concept that I am working on and pushing for acceptance.  You can be an early supporter by Liking our Facebook page.  If you want a radical change in education – start here.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Elevator Pitch

I recently read an interesting article about crafting the essential elevator pitch.  An elevator pitch is basically a tight speech for a call to action to a busy investor in the time it takes an elevator to travel a few levels.  Usually the call to action is to set up a meeting to consider investing in the idea pitched.

I am not calling for capitalization.  We are still a ways away from that.  Instead I want to bring awareness to how Official Coach Lerning Academies is a unique 21st century concept of education.  So here is my Elevator Pitch:

We need a 21st century change in education. Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.

My name is Carlos Mendoza.  I’m a  20-year veteran educator with administrative experience.  I have served on the school boards of Adelanto Elementary School District and Victor Valley Christian School. My expertise is in alternative education, special education, education media design, and technology. I have a traditional Master’s degree in Education and a nontraditional online Master of Science degree in Educational Media Design and Technology. My goal is to promote a radical change in education. I am the founder and lead innovator of Official Coach Lerning Academies.

Our current school system is based on a late 19th century model of industrialization that no longer exists today.  The factory jobs students were being prepared to fill are now gone.  No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, Waivers, Vouchers and other federal programs are screaming that our school system is not working.

Yet schooling has not fundamentally changed in over a hundred years.  Private schools have not progressed any further than public schools.  To put it simply, our society has made advancement in technology that has yet to reach the average classroom.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is different. It has re-imagined education for the 21st century.  It is the first of its kind to offer education developed for this century.

Official Coach Lerning Academies break out of the late 19th century mold with private regionally accredited independent studies schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery.

Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies. Coach Michael Lerning is the central character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

While education reformers are wasting time trying to make an outdated school system relevant – Official Coach Lerning Academies can open everywhere with the ease of an Internet connection and a local facilitator. Official Coach Lerning Academies is a school system with the flexibility of a tutoring center.  The bulk of the instruction is done online with gamified story lines.  Enrolled students can earn credit by completing problem-based projects.  They can visit any academy and depending on the size signup for various enrichment activities and submit their projects.

Most students rather not attend school – it is boring.  It is designed for one-size fits all.  They go through the motions of learning to get through the system.  Our students are attracted by compelling gamified story lines, but are enrolled for the flexible quality education that was once reserved for royalty that could afford to commission tutors to educate their children.  Universal membership with Coach Learning Academies with online gamified learning and project-based mastery is unique, but totally doable in the 21st century.

Look at our school system today. You know a change has to happen.  That change for the better can happen – with your help.  All you have to do is Like Us on Facebook.  Yes, click here and Like our Facebook page.  That is it. And you will be an early supporter making a difference in education.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

I Saw The Future Thirty Years Ago

We had the basic elements for 21st century learning back in 1983.

Recently, my youngest daughter participated in a school production that had a scene playing Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit – Thriller. She looked up the video on YouTube as research for her part as a dancing zombie.  I was fascinated by her interest in the dance moves of a production thirty years ago.   I remember seeing the music video on MTV.  The video quality is nowhere near to what is produced today, but she could see how such videos led up to what she and her peers take for granted today.  Still, she pities me for having to endure less than high def TV back in the olden days.

1983 was also an interesting year for other reasons.  By year’s end, Apple was introducing the Macintosh. And the TCP/IP that we now use for the Internet was standardized for universal use.

Also in 1983, I took a college course called Gamed Simulation: Hands On Experience.   The course was about using simulation games to solve problems.  As a course requirement we had to create simulations to solve or illustrate a problem.  I have thought ever since that it was great way to learn.

I trace the origin of Official Coach Lerning Academies to that class.  This 21st century concept of education, of course, was not fully formed then.  It would take thirty years of learning about education and watching technology develop to formulate the details that will make the concept a reality.

The idea is simple.  Learning is a natural function of a sentient being.  We are learning all the time.  Learning is the brain sorting and processing new data to make sense of it.  Education is guiding that process for a purpose.  Schooling is the method that is currently used to guide the learning process for the purpose of cultivating productive citizenship among students.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  The problem is that our current school system is not producing or preparing the citizens we need to drive a 21st century economy and society.

The school system was functional a hundred years ago when students were being prepared for work in the industrial age.  We have since moved on to creating innovation as an industry through computer code instead of through factory work.  We need citizens that are creative problem-solvers with great communication skills.  Our current school system and the reforms trying to change it are not doing the job.  The industries that require the old skills being taught have been moved overseas where it can be done more cheaply.  We can fight to keep an antiquated system going or we can rethink education for the 21st century.

An education that has as its purpose of teaching students skills needed to solve or illustrate a problem is what we need today.  Please consider Official Coach Lerning Academies when looking for a 21st century alternative to our current system of schooling.  Be an early supporter and Like Us on Facebook.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Rethinking Education for the 21st Century

I often write that we must rethink education for the 21st century.  Once in awhile someone will ask what does that even mean and how does one go about doing that?  Well, as much as I like my answers – I have to share someone else’s.  John Thomas, Headmaster of First Hill School, wrote an excellent blog post for the Huffington Post, in which he gives the best well-rounded outline to answer this question I’ve come across.

The challenge for us, according to Thomas, is to redefine what has been successful in the past and apply those concepts to the new demands and expectations of this century.  Terms that we have taken for granted for more than a hundred years must be redefined to apply to this century.  As I have stated before, there isn’t anything wrong in schooling students to be prepared workers for the economy – it just has to be for the century that they live in.

Redefine the Classroom:

The term classroom, as a starter, has to be redefined.  John Thomas limited his redefinition of classroom to simply redesigning the facilities of the traditional classroom.   He would have us redesign the classroom to allow more collaboration and teamwork among students.  So would I, with the caveat that the redefinition includes a meeting of students online.  In the 21st century we are no longer bound to the brick and mortar of a schoolhouse.

In my mind, a classroom in the 21st century is any meeting place, including cyberspace, in which students learn with the facilitation of collaboration and teamwork.

Redefine Rigor:

Rigor is a term that has been used repeatedly to describe education reform.  What does it mean?  What should it mean?  It has meant making schools tougher by adding more content and raising the cutoff score on standardized tests.  How efficient is that with the world’s knowledge just a smart-phone away at any given time?

Rigor should be measured by how schools facilitate acquiring new knowledge to solve a problem or create something novel or new.  Rigor of this fashion may not be so easily measured on a standardized test, but neither is the answer so readily available on a smart-phone or on a multiple-choice guess.

Redefine Teachers:

Then we come to teachers.  Thomas states that teachers are quickly becoming facilitators, guides, mentors, sources, and resources.  I wish that were true.  Current education reform demands explicit direct instruction of answers to questions that are most likely on state given standardized tests.  This may sound great to some, but is disastrous to students when they learn that real world problems don’t come with multiple-choice answers.  It is one of the obstacles preventing public education from implementing 21st century learning.

Redefine the School Day:

Redefining the school day is also important to 21st century learning.  Thomas correctly states that the challenge here is time.  Technology has liberated us from the confines of a particular schoolhouse and its bell schedule.  With 21st century technology we can not only redefine the classroom, but can also facilitate learning anytime from anyplace almost on demand.

The 21st century concept behind Official Coach Lerning Academies allows for a flexible school day.  In fact – the entire school calendar is flexible! Students learn concepts and content online through a gamified story line.  Through independent study, students can turn that knowledge into credits at any one of our academies at hours convenient for them and parents.

Redefine Homework:

What is homework?  – Schoolwork done at home.  The line between school and home is blurred with blended learning.  It is the type of schoolwork that is actually being redefined.  Assignments to force rote-memory no longer serve students that literally can look up information with a cell phone.  Assignments that guide analysis and critical thinking are a better match for students that have immediate access to the Internet.  Of course, we can always, for example, go back to teaching with a slide ruler – just in case the battery of a graphing calculator runs out.

Redefine Assignments:

John Thomas describes the new definition of assignments as project and solution oriented.  It is not enough for 21st century students to be able to access knowledge.  Students must be able to collect data (real time or historical), analyze it, and with comprehension and critical thinking be able to find an application, create something new, or evaluate it.  That expectation was once reserved for elite students.  It should be expected of all students.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.  All the terms have been redefined to meet the needs of 21st century students and their families.  Regionally accredited independent study schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery. Though still in the developmental stage it is real. Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies. Coach Michael Lerning is the central character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

Please consider Official Coach Lerning Academies when looking for a 21st century alternative to our current system of schooling.  Be an early supporter and Like Us on Facebook.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

 

What is a School Day?

Official Coach Lerning Academies has 24/7/365 flexibility and has universal membership to all of its academies.  Let’s start with that.  No, let’s back up a bit.

This past summer we had the family project of cleaning out my dad’s basement.  The girls came across a box of carbon copy paper.  I told them that it went with the Remington typewriter on the table against the wall.  They were amused to hear that that is what was used before PDF files and printers.  I remember doing my homework on that typewriter.  And that is not the only thing I remember.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen Eastman Kodak go from being a picture film industry giant to bankruptcy because it did not make the adjustment to the 21st century fast enough.  I’ve seen Blockbuster Video go bankrupt because it couldn’t pivot to the online market for video rentals fast enough.  Now I’m watching my favorite bookstore, Barnes & Noble, close hundreds of stores to stay afloat in this age of online bookstores.  So many other bookstores have already gone bankrupt.

Well, public education is going down the same path.  It couldn’t have been clearer to me than Patte Barth’s article in the Huffington Post.  She is the director of the Center for Public Education.  In the article, Ms. Barth reviews the pros and cons of a longer school day.  She begins with – is a longer school day worth the cost?

The following is her conclusion:

“In the end, adding hours may be the way to go to improve student achievement. But school boards and superintendents should still be strategic and target the extra time to the students who stand to benefit most. And regardless of the strategies they pursue, the need to monitor progress to make sure they’re getting the results they want. This will truly keep time on our side.”

The opening question, the process of thought, and the final conclusion reveals an intelligent person trying to make a late 19th century model of schooling meet our 21st century needs for education.  It’s not going to happen.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.  Regionally accredited independent study schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery at any one of our academies.  Membership in one academy is universal membership in all of the academies.  It’s going to outpace our current form of schooling.

This concept recognizes that there is no longer a need to tie students to a brick and mortar schoolhouse and to a bell schedule.  Really, what is a school day?  Students should be able to learn at the time that is best for them – not until a bell rings.  There is no limit on time.  It doesn’t need to be allocated to just students that stand to benefit the most.  We now have the capability to provide learning opportunities almost literally on demand and anywhere!

If we are worried about time, consider the time being wasted on making an antiquated school system meet our current needs for education.

Please consider Official Coach Lerning Academies when looking for a 21st century alternative to our current system of schooling.  Be an early supporter and Like Us on Facebook.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

5 Key Reasons We Are Poised To Take The Next Step

“There is nothing more resistant to change than the public school system.”  - Joel Klein

Joel Klein is the CEO of Amplify, an innovative education technology company.  He was the Chancellor of New York City Public Schools.  He was on the Foreign Relations Committee that described our public school system as a national security risk.  In other words, he is a mover and shaker in education.

Much of what he says about education is spot on correct.  The same can be said about U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Governor Jeb Bush.  They can all agree that accountability with standardized testing is narrowing the curriculum and forcing teachers to teach to the test, and still push policies that make it the law of the land.

In a recent article with Ed Tech Magazine,  however, he stuck to areas that we can mostly agree on.  21st century learning is not simply about adopting technology for education.  The right innovative technologies for education are tools that empower students to learn.  From there, Joel Klein offered 5 key reasons why our national school system is poised to take the next step toward full-scale technology integration.

  1. The Common Core
  2. Economics
  3. More Blended Instruction
  4. Younger Instructors
  5. Investor Interest

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education and has been influenced by all of these reasons.

1.  Common Core

Common Core is a set of education standards adopted by states.  I remember being excited about Core Knowledge and the adoption of state standards.  For the first time, educators were able to agree on at least a state level what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade level. Common Core brings this uniformity to the national level.

Official Coach Lerning Academies does not lock students at grade levels by age.  We do, however, assess mastery by comparing actual performance with the Common Core and state standards.  This makes our program universally acceptable across states.

2.  Economics

Our current education system is based on a late 19th century industrial age based model of schooling meant to prepare students for simple factory work.  It is based on an economic system of mass production, monopoly, and profit maximization through cost cutting and reduction of staff.   That system of schooling is not working well in the 21st century.

Innovation in technology has brought us Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft.  Students now have direct access to information anywhere (except most public schools) through tablets and smart phones.  Technology has also provided analytics that measure individual student progress as it happens.  No longer need to wait for the return of state tests to know how a student performed the previous school year.  21st century is not about mass production of students.

Official Coach Lerning Academies provide options for students to chose from to personalize their learning.  Students also have a say in their challenged-based projects.  Mobile learning technologies also provide flexibility that includes universal membership in all of the academies as opposed to a single brick and mortar schoolhouse.

3.  More Blended Learning.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a firm supporter of blended learning.   Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education.  We blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery at our centers.  In one form or another, we provide education 24 hours a day for seven days a week all year.  And students have universal membership at all of the academies!

4.  Younger Instructors

As an educator, I know better than to discount the value of veteran master teachers.  Younger does not mean better.  The next generation of educators, however, must be trained differently.  The focus must be on students learning and not teachers covering content.  Future educators must be facilitators and coaches.  They must have, among others skills, the ability to code and create interactive digital desktop authorship products.

Official Coach Lerning Academies are regionally accredited independent study schools with facilitators and tutors to guide students through their education experience.

5.  Investor Interest

There has been significant interest and investment in developing educational technologies.  I will honestly state that Official Coach Lerning Academies has not yet develop a single innovative software for education.  We rely on what has already been created by others and out on the market.  We do not intend to recreate the wheel.  Instead, we rely on 21st century mashup of technologies to make what is uniquely our own.  Anyone can do it.  At the very least, we aim to show that we can do it.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

What is Andragogy?

What is Andragogy?

Ferdi Serim, author of Digital Learning: Strengthening and Assessing 21st Century Skills, defines andragogy as a theory of how humans learn.  This is an important term to add to your vocabulary.  Up until recently, pedagogy (how we teach) has been the dominant term in major discussions on education. The pivot in the 21st century is away from centering on teaching and looking closer to how we learn.

Ferdi Serim has listed six (6) tenets of andragogy – how we learn:

  1. Need to Know (Why You Do)
  2. Experience (Including Error)
  3. Readiness (Just in Time)
  4. Orientation (Problem Centered)
  5.  Motivation (Internal)
  6. Self-Concept (In Charge of Your Own Learning)

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education and addresses all of these tenets.

1.  Need to know (Why You Do):

Educators often have to address the question of why do we need to learn this or when will I ever use that because of our fragmental approach to teaching.  Official Coach Lerning Academies use compelling story lines to provide context (a problem to solve) that motivates and guide students through the learning experience.   Coach Michael Lerning is the central character, but there are several others that provide hilarious misadventures in learning.

2.  Experience (Including Error):

Official Coach Lerning Academies allow students to develop deeper understanding by learning from their mistakes without penalties.  Students are not graded in the traditional method of allowing mediocre work (a D+ for example) to pass as acceptable work for credit.  Students must demonstrate mastery through problem-solving project-based assignments.  Students earn badges of achievements when they demonstrate mastery.  The lessons learned while earning badges cannot be quantified or graded but provide the best kind of education.

3. Readiness (Just in Time):

Most students study under the premise that anything and everything covered in class might be on a test (Just in case studying).  The result is called load and dump.  In other words, they study everything that might be on a test and then forget the information after the test.  The information that they were studying had no relevance to anything outside of the test and, therefore, no longer important enough to remember.  This is not a conscious decision among students, but a result from how our brain is wired to learn and remember what is important.

Official Coach Lerning Academies provides relevance by putting problem-solving projects in the context of a compelling story line.  Students study and learn what they need to know to solve a problem and complete a task.

4.  Orientation (Problem Centered):

Marc-André Lalande invented a new word – Schoolisyzation.

“- n. the act of force fitting a notion or concept into a real-life context or vise-versa, for teaching purposes, resulting in a somewhat absurd lesson or exercise that would never be considered outside of a teaching facility.”

These are problems meant to put a concept into a context for students, but instead provoke bewilderment that anyone would ever need or want to do that in real life.

Official Coach Lerning Academies presents problem-solving assignments in the context of a compelling story line that makes sense and motivates the student to solve.

5.  Motivation (Internal):

Self-motivation is key to learning.  The expression – you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink, is well known, but not actually true.  Our school systems have been salting the oats to force students to participate for a very long time.  Official Coach Lerning Academies want to take our students for a run that will work up a thirst.  (OK, I may have stretched that analogy too far).

The point is this:  Story telling, song, dance, and games have been used to teach for thousands of years because they work.  Students are so caught up in the enjoyment of learning that they do not realize that they are being taught.  This is the heart of what makes Official Coach Lerning Academies radically different from other programs.  We have re-imagined education for the 21st century and found that current technology makes it possible to center on learning as oppose to force teaching.

6.  Self-Concept (In Charge of Your Own Learning):

This tenet is about people having the need to be responsible for their own education – make their own choices.  This includes involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.  Official Coach Lerning Academies provides students with opportunities to choose among options where they want to follow in the gamified story line, but this is actually superficial to their education.  In addition to completing problem-solving project-based assignments – there is Challenge-Based Learning.

As described by the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow – Today (ACOT2) program, Challenge-Based Learning is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems through efforts in their homes, schools and communities.

Individual Official Coach Lerning Academies are not disengaged from the real world around us.  There are true-life problems in our communities and around the world that our students must be a part of the solution.  Our students are required to periodically submit a Challenge-Based Learning project.  And since Official Coach Lerning Academies are not bound by traditional school hours and days, our students have the flexibility to be fully engaged in Challenge-Based Learning.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a unique and radical 21st century change in education.  Please show support by following us on Twitter and liking our Facebook page.

Official Coach Lerning Academies is a 21st century concept of education. Regionally accredited independent study schools that blend online gamified story lines with project-based mastery. It is still in the developmental stage.  Students are not enrolled in a particular school, but rather have membership privileges in all of the academies.  Coach Lerning is the name of a character of a gamified story line that motivates and guide students through the 21st century learning experience.

We will continue to explore the uniqueness of Official Coach Lerning Academies in future posts.  Thank you for visiting.  Please continue to visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook