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Introducing Facebook and Summit’s K-12 Education Project

News release – Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer, Facebook , September 5 2015Over the past year, a small team of Facebook engineers has been working together with a group of local educators on an exciting project — to create a classroom experience that’s centered around students’ ambitions that takes advantage of all the technology and information accessible to a kid growing up today. When we first heard about Summit Public Schools a few years ago we, like many others, were impressed by their results. They are consistently ranked among the best schools in California, almost all of their graduates are accepted to at least one four-year college or university, and they achieve these outcomes while serving a very diverse student population that reflects the local community. They are just remarkable schools. They get these results by pioneering a very different approach to learning. First, the classroom isn’t for lectures. Content and assessments are delivered online through teacher-created materials, and classroom time is reserved for teacher-led real-world projects and collaboration. Second, the learning experience for students is completely personalized to them, and they move along at their own pace. Students start by working with teachers to set long-term goals (e.g. “become an investigative journalist”, “go to a state school”, “learn to code”), then lay out a plan to achieve them over the course of many years. They can then visualize and track all of their coursework as a path towards these goals, connecting their daily decisions to their long-term aspirations. This means that every moment of each students’ day is motivated by what they want to be when they grow up. Alongside this, teachers can then check in on how their students are doing to give tailored feedback each day, and parents can do the same to view their kids’ progress at any time. As we looked into why this was so effective, we saw that a lot of this was the culture of the teachers and school, but also that a lot of the magic was in the technology. First, the technology itself has the power to bring to life the daily work by putting it in context. And second, the technology frees up classroom time for teachers to do what they do best—mentor students directly—and for students to spend time collaborating with, and in some cases, teaching each other. We got in touch with Summit to see whether there was an opportunity for our engineers to help them. They told us that while this model was changing the way kids learn, the technology just wasn’t good enough. So what if we could build this together and then give it away for free? We started by working together to rebuild their tool, called the Personalized Learning Plan (“PLP”), for Summit’s use in the 2014 school year. Last year, more than 2,000 students and 100 teachers spent the school year using it. For 2015, we’re supporting Summit as it partners with public schools who want to explore personalized learning through a small pilot program. We’ll use feedback from this program to improve the PLP so we can eventually offer it, for free, to any school in the US that wants it….”

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