Student Choice and Agency Let Superpowers Shine
Grass Valley Elementary’s maker ed program, supported by an LRNG Innovators Challenge grant, is letting...
New funding opportunities through LRNG will support connected learning by leveraging rich resources in communities and helping young people connect their interests beyond classroom walls.
“What if learning had no bells, no walls?”
This was the question we posed to educators across the country last year in our first LRNG Innovators Challenge. What kinds of projects could educators dream up to extend learning beyond the classroom? What opportunities would they create to build on their students’ interests? And what would happen if we gave teachers the resources to make these dreams a reality?
Amazing things it turns out.
Elementary schoolers in rural New Mexico harvested and dehydrated herbs from their school’s garden to make soap and tea as part of a summer STEAM program. Middle and high school students in South Central Los Angeles invented apocalypse-themed games as part of a 36-hour game jam. And in Washington DC, teens in a hands-on history class interviewed older Washingtonians about their experience living through the great migration.
These are just slivers of the larger programs each team of educators created with support from LRNG, a partnership between the National Writing Project and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign. Though the grantees’ work varied in location, size, and ages of students, all 14 introduced new opportunities for connected learning, or learning that happens when students follow their interests and create work that’s meaningful to them.
With continued support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, LRNG will be able to offer rounds of challenge grants to innovative educators in 2015 and 2016. Plus, LRNG Innovators Challenge was so successful that it has been adopted by Collective Shift, a new nonprofit launched by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation whose mission is to redesign social systems for the connected age.
This year, we’re asking, how can teachers take advantage of rich resources in their communities? We’re challenging teachers to develop partnerships and programs that connect in-school and out-of-school learning. The deadline for the LRNG Innovators Challenge is January 13, 2016. Winners of the $20,000 grants will be announced in March 2016.
Here are a few more examples from last year to get your creative juices flowing:
For more, check out our three-part webinar series and radio show, where grantees from nine different projects dive into the details of their work. Learn how teachers in the Bronx guided students in conducting community-based research on cyber bullying and other topics and presented their findings to state legislators. Or how teachers in North Carolina set up pop-up makerspaces during an extended lunch period where students fold origami, draw with 3D pens, and build with modeling clay.
We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with next.
Feature Photo/ Jason E. Miczek