Design II Showcase

Goal Area: Programs of Choice

Vancouver Flex Academy at Lewis and Clark High School is Vancouver Public Schools’ newest program of choice. Recently, Principal Rob Duncan and teacher Katie Cunningham shared what’s happening in the school’s new flexible learning program.

“Students who come [here] have more control over what they are doing,” said Cunningham. “A fluid schedule gives students choice and control of time, place, path and pace.”

The school combines online curriculum on one-to-one laptops with small group work and teacher instruction. Students don’t follow a traditional six-period schedule, but instead set their own schedules. The flex learning model gives them the choice to work on English one day and math the next. Technology gives them access to their courses anywhere and anytime. Instant feedback on assignments and tests helps students assess their own learning. Teachers take on the role of mentor and coach rather than acting as the source of information and curriculum content.

“Teachers provide relevance for the students,” said Cunningham. “We intervene and fill in the gaps. We deepen the learning through discussion. Ultimately we’re helping students to turn the information they get from the technology into knowledge, which is what they get by combining the information with a really strong relationship with a teacher. It’s essential for student learning.

“I think the blended learning model holds a lot of promise, because it takes the best of what technology can do for students, and combines it with the best of what teachers always have done for students,” concluded Cunningham.