Developing Extended Learning Opportunities in Collaboration with Enosburg Falls High School.
To make Extended Learning Opportunities as rich and meaningful an experience as possible, the support and dedication of Cooperating Teachers and Community Mentors is essential. School personnel and Community Mentors can open up a new world of opportunity to students, providing them with the chance to apply their skills and knowledge to real world settings. Often acting as activators of learning, mentors, and guides, teachers and Community Mentors provide students with the 21st Century Skills that are so critical to preparing them for today’s workforce and postsecondary education. Without the commitment of many educators, businesses, non-profit organizations and community members across Vermont, Extended Learning Opportunities would not be possible.
Five key components of an ELO
ELOs have five key components
- Research – plan for what you expect to learn, adjust your research along the way
- Reflection – communicate your growth and seek help from those you know connect to your learning.
- Product – Plan for what you expect to do, gather and use authentic feedback, make your learning productive
- Presentation – Communicate your experience, share your knowledge and skills, connect your learning to life.
ELO Design Template
Learning teams will use the ELO Design Template to begin developing a comprehensive plan for all elements of the ELO.
The design process may vary. For example, an ELO may be initiated by a student and teacher, and then other learning team members are added, or a teacher and community partner may initiate an ELO to propose to a group of students. All members of the ELO team must sign the Extended Learning Opportunities Program Plan before the ELO can begin.
- Essential question
This is the driving question behind the ELO. A good essential question will:
- motivate and shift students toward ownership of learning
- be thoughtful, provoking, and philosophical, and not have a simple (or “google-able”) answer
- provide a baseline for the student to refine his or her own answer throughout the ELO experience.
Proficiencies are clear criteria that guide students’ learning and are necessary to move toward graduation. Student progress through proficiencies is mapped in Personalized Learning Plans and Goals stored in LiFT.
- Community Mentors
Community mentors take the learning outside of school. Through them, students engage in meaningful learning that contributes back to the larger community.
Strategies for successful community partnerships include:
- Clear outlines of how feedback and coaching will happen during the course of the ELO
- Use the Community Partner template as a guideline for developing and nurturing partnerships
- A policy on background checks
- An insurance policy
Projects are the natural end result of the student’s learning journey and provide a vehicle for processing, exploring and creating evidence toward the proficiencies through the essential question.
ELO students should be working on projects that:
- result in an original product or idea
- contribute back to a larger community
- support disciplined inquiry (i.e., the student acts as a mathematician, historian, artist, or other role in order to do the work).
Explore Buck Institute for Education (BIE) for project ideas. The Buck Institute supports teachers to use Project Based Learning, which they define as a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.