HISD educators, administrators tour California schools integrating Linked Learning approach

A team of 40 school educators and  district support staff recently traveled to California for a site visit of five schools that have successfully combined core academics with career-based knowledge and skills in collaborative and research-intensive learning environments known as Linked Learning.

During a tour of the California Academy of Mathematics and Science (CAMS), a four-year comprehensive public high school located on the campus of California State University at Dominguez Hills, the group observed students working in pairs and groups on projects tied to engineering and biotechnology.

“Our students are engaged in collaborative conversations and projects that tie in career industries to help them learn how to problem solve at a deeper level,” said Long Beach Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Pete Davis. “They’re not working against each other. They’re working together.”

Like the Long Beach school district, HISD is becoming more strategic in it’s efforts to link classroom instruction  to real-world experiences in order to prepare students for college and career success. HISD’s Linked Learning approach launched this school year in a cohort of eight high schools and their feeder pattern middle and elementary schools – a total of 40 campuses. The district will continue to implement the Linked Learning approach in additional cohorts  over the next four years as part of a $30 million federal Race to the Top grant awarded to HISD in 2013.

The tour to California included teachers and principals from the first cohort of HISD campuses as well as school support officers. The group, at each school, spoke to teachers and administrators on the steps they took to get to the true integration stage of Linked Learning.

“The students here are not even aware that what they’re doing is Linked Learning,” said Westbury High School math teacher Jesus Suarez. “They’re just doing it. The teachers have found ways to connect one core class to another, and they’re coming up with student projects that relate to real-world applications. This learning approach is helping to pique their students’ interests, and I want to be able to adapt this approach to my classes.”

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