Partner Profile: How Space of Mind Is Measuring What Matters
Space of Mind offers K-12 students an experiential learning experience designed for our modern, social world. Their staff of educators, called “coaches,” provide a creative, flexible, and personalized educational environment that fosters social, emotional, and academic growth for all learners. Elevating their theme-centered and project-based approach to learning, the Altitude Learning platform enables SOM students and coaches to capture all forms of learning and track individual progress toward standards, competencies, and individualized goals.
- Full-time social homeschool program integrating academics, SEL skills, creative arts & wellness standards, and goals with a life-coaching approach to teaching.
- Utilize the Altitude Learning platform with 1st-12th grade learners.
- Further explore and strengthen student-centered practices by integrating real-world learning experiences.
- Deepen learner-centered practice with students as agents of their own learning and coaches as facilitators and multi-disciplinary co-constructors.
- Crosswalk Space of Mind Learning Quests to the Florida State Standards to demonstrate efficacy of rigorous instruction.
- Enable coaches to use what they know about the student’s learning style, interests, and experiences to make meaningful instructional decisions.
- Reduced manual standards mapping and progress reporting by 1,692 hours.
- Increased time and space to nurture students and incorporate more creative programming and community building.
- Created dynamic, personalized learning experiences for individuals and small groups of learners.
At Space of Mind, learning is oriented around an annual theme and the academic year is divided into four Quests to take deep dives into the theme. In 2018-19, it was “Our Planet, Our Health.” Quests span across grade levels and content areas and always include authentic projects that connect learners to their community. Space of Mind’s project-based approach is ripe with emergent and even unplanned learning moments. Thus, the team of coaches wanted a solution for capturing and measuring what matters for learners, wherever their explorations take them.
SOM partnered with AltSchool, now Altitude Learning, in the fall of 2018. Altitude Learning’s professional development services provided a blend of platform functionality and pedagogical best practices to meet the coaches where they were with an eye toward their shared vision for learners. First, the team focused on mapping projects to Florida state standards to lay the foundation for measuring learning against their desired competencies. Then, with targeted support, coaches built their project-based Quests into the platform. The end result: Throughout the year, students captured evidence of learning, coaches assessed learning against academic and social-emotional learning targets, and together they created a competency-based portfolio of learning for each child.
Harnessing the Power of the Altitude Learning Platform
Tenets of Education Reimagined’s learner-centered practices are evident throughout SOM’s approach to strengthen student-centered practices, integrate real-world learning experiences, and empower students as agents of their own meaningful learning experiences. The stories below highlight how Altitude Learning’s support and tools made it possible to shift to deeper learner-centered, student-driven, project-based practices and capture and measure all learning against academic and social targets along the way.
Real-World Learning: New Orleans Digital Storytelling Project
In 2019, students at Space of Mind took a trip to New Orleans, a city with relevant social, environmental, and historical relevance to the theme, “Our Planet, Our Health.” Students and coaches volunteered with non-profit organizations including the ARC of Greater New Orleans, the Green Project, and Sustain the Nine. In conjunction with these organizations, they helped keep two tons of Mardi Gras beads out of a local landfill, recycled gallons of paint for discounted resale to local artists, and planted 450 trees in the Ninth Ward. After the trip, students worked in small teams to create digital stories about their learning, weaving together elements of humanities, science, math, government, and creative arts. Throughout this quest, coaches and students utilized the Altitude Learning platform to manage both the logistics and learning—to scaffold the pre- and post-production video work, document student progress over the course of the month, communicate progress, assess individual contributions, and reflect on the group’s social dynamic.
Personalized Learning: Flexible Learning Pathways
With a strong conviction that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to learning, coaches at SOM are committed to offering dynamic and responsive pathways for learners. Historically, the logistics of planning and tracking personalized pathways for many students was overwhelming, but the Altitude Learning platform made this process streamlined, manageable, and trackable. Using Scorebook, coaches could easily see a class-wide snapshot of progress toward Florida state standards and use the insights to make in-the-moment instructional decisions about content and groupings to target specific student needs. From there, they could also develop and assign differentiated learning experiences or Cards to address those needs.
In the third quest of the year titled, “Americana: Whose America is this?” learners explored their country’s past through an interdisciplinary lens. They tackled the following essential questions:
- How has the American experience evolved as evidenced through the eras in our history?
- How has scientific and technological progress influenced progress across eras in American history?
- How has interpreting statistics helped us navigate American economic struggles and booms from the past?
- How has the American idea of health and wellness been affected by progress?
Throughout the learning process, coaches assigned Cards to address the specific needs and interests of small groups and individual students. Additionally, coaches offered students choice in how they demonstrated their learning by creating flexible summative assessment Cards.
Student Metacognition: Goal Setting and Reflection
Given the strong social-emotional emphasis at SOM, part of their practice is to help students learn about themselves as learners. This metacognitive work is rooted in strong goal-setting and reflection practices that take place during weekly Forum groups—small coach-led communities designed to foster healthy interpersonal relationships in the schoolhouse. Coaches and students work together to set academic and behavioral goals in the platform that can be tagged with Florida state standards or social-emotional learning objectives. It is also a time to reflect on progress toward goals. Goals and reflections are captured and tracked within the platform and can be seen in real time by coaches, students, and families, thus strengthening the home-to-school connection.
After one year of partnering with AltSchool (now Altitude Learning), Space of Mind coaches and students began to capture, measure, and track all learning—on campus and beyond. They created portfolios of learning evidence aligned to Florida state standards to demonstrate the robust academic rigor embedded in their project-based approach. They saved over 1,500 hours of educator time that would have been spent manually mapping standards and reporting on progress. Most importantly, learners saw evidence of their remarkable academic growth and felt a renewed sense of ownership and engagement.
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