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Method Schools

Modeling Support During This Unprecedented Time

During these unprecedented times, the entire field of education is making modifications to the way they deliver content and instruction. Though there are some of us who have always delivered the bulk of our educational programs virtually or through a distance modality, we have still had to alter how we deliver support in a variety of ways. As an online, independent study program, with our own developed student information system and comprehensive online course catalog, Method Schools has eliminated some elements of our program, such as our traveling Teach Squad that meets with various groups of students throughout the counties and closed our headquarter site for those staff that previously opted to collaborate in person.
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Online Curriculum

Introducing The SmartFox Professional Development Course Library

Facilitating ongoing professional development within any organization can be a demanding task. For a growing organization, continuous onboarding and training is critical to meet staff members’ wherever they are in their professional careers.
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Method Schools

Recognizing Jade Fernandez, Our Head of Schools, as a True Leader

Leadership is a complex endeavor that demands continuous personal and professional growth. Some work diligently at it, while others may possess some intrinsic qualities that can make it a less arduous undertaking.
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Independent Study

Independent Study is Built For Independent Thinkers

With the several hits legitimate charter schools have recently taken due to unethical players and an increased competition for student enrollments, school choice has been negatively impacted. Though there has been an impact, there is still an ongoing need for school choice due to a diverse population of students with an even more diverse set of needs. Independent study or homeschooling remains a preferred option for many students and their families with unique needs or interests.
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testing

Preparing Students for Success on the CAASPP

Preparing students for California's annual testing can be challenging and at times feels (and is) ineffective. In our experience at Method Schools, some challenges to ensuring student success on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) test have been: Lack of access to pertinent student performance data Undeveloped data-aligned interventions Shortage of time to analyze and act on data Training every teacher on relevant test preparation strategies Limited student investment Students working remotely To address these constraints, we've developed a planning tool to guide our focus and practices throughout the school year in preparing students, parents and teachers for the CAASPP. This tool acts as a continuous work in progress and we refine the plan on a weekly basis as we troubleshoot and test new tools and practices regularly. Key points of our planning tool are:  Maintain ongoing access to CAASPP aligned student performance data Fully develop and implement (key word here is implement) data-aligned interventions Allot time to administer tools and practices Provide regular and ongoing teacher training in test preparation strategies Cultivate a growth mindset culture to recruit student investment Ensure online tools are implemented for virtual learners With relentless work and dedication to student improvement on the CAASPP, we've seen remarkable growth at Method. Though we hope for more growth, from 2017-18 to 2018-19 we grew 44.9% in Language Arts and 72.7% in Math. These are great growth figures that we're proud to share, but we started in a low position due to the challenges listed above and have a long way to go to maintain Blue and Green dashboard status. How did we ignite student growth within our organization? We haven’t found a magic recipe, but we have discovered a few things that have impacted growth. The first and most important ingredient has been true dedication and goal setting in the area of CAASPP growth that is monitored and discussed on a regular basis. For us, regularly means weekly at a minimum. Additionally, we believe the following practices have had an impact: Ongoing dedicated time to growth goal setting and refinements Quarterly CAASPP aligned diagnostic assessment administered for all students Fully developed data-aligned intervention system Data-aligned instructional tools and strategies implemented across all teachers Develop a culture focused on growth among all stakeholders at Method Schools We're committed to ensuring every student grows academically and personally at Method. We continue to refine our tools and practices in preparing students for the CAASPP and look forward to more growth ahead.   What's worked for you at your school or district? I'd love to hear more in the comments. 
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Independent Study

Four Smart Solutions to Ensure Success in an Independent Study Program

Independent study in K-12 schools can be a challenging and isolating experience if not delivered with ample support and accountability. Throughout my years working within independent study, the need for personalized tools and instruction is as critical as ever. Expecting students, parents and teachers to be successful within an independent study modality is unrealistic without a variety of instructional practices and effective tools.
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Employees Need The Time And Freedom to Create and Innovate

Autonomous Project Time at Method Schools   Any position within any organization includes the demands of time management. Depending on the organization, employees likely have a variety of tasks they are required to juggle and may have very little time to do anything but task-oriented times from day to day. This type of working conditions can create not only employees that become task oriented, but an overall organization that is limited to tasks as well. Task oriented employees and thus, organizations can place any organization at extreme risk from inventing new practices, procedures and tools to stay current and competitive in their respective markets and in today’s world, can ultimately lead to organization extinction.   According to Daniel Pink and researchers, Devi and Ryan, in his book on what motivates humans titled Drive, autonomous motivation involves behaving with a full sense of volition and force, where controlled motivation involves behaving with the experience of pressure and demand toward specific outcomes that is perceived external from the self. This “acting with choice” can have a powerful effect on individual performance and attitude.   Some organizations develop initiatives that support employees in prescribing undivided time to non-task related duties and only include creative efforts towards new solutions, processes and tools that move the organization forward and committed to innovation. For example, Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO, provides autonomous time for his employees and has found that the “ultimate freedom to experiment with new ideas” can foster true innovation within any organization.   At Method Schools, we have created Autonomous Project Time (APT) where employees are required to devote half a day each month to research and develop their own projects. This time is entirely employee driven and independent time to be spent on projects such as reading on the latest trends and best practices, analyzing data to generate improved instructional practices, researching case studies on student motivation, creating new systems and practices to better serve families or discovering or developing new tools to further engage and promote growth for students.   We encourage this time not to be spent “catching up” on tasks, but rather on time away from the mundane tasks that can crowd out potential autonomous and creative time. We are new at such an implementation, so we have started with half a day each month and try to divide up the staff that takes the time, so there can be ample coverage of other duties while each group takes their autonomous time. The goal is to offer a half day a week - which is about 10% of their time and fits with our original breakthrough10 concept - and to continue to build it into the ongoing transitional culture of our organization until this time feels natural to our employees.   At the end of each month, all employees share out what they have been working on and hope to achieve during their exploratory and constructive time. This is where meaningful collaboration and progress can genuinely take place. As a charter school, our foundation and overall vision are built around providing choice to families and offering unique and personalized modalities from which students can learn. This practice can greatly enhance those offerings to families within an environment in great need of diverse and unconventional solutions.  
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culture

Building Culture in a Virtual Work Environment

The word culture comes from the Latin term, cultus, which means care. Culture or “care” can easily make or break any organization and can be the glue that keeps strong teams working together constructively. New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Coyle, studied a variety of the world’s most successful organizations from NBA teams to the U.S. Navy Seals and identified three key skills that generated cohesion and cooperation in building a strong culture. These three key skills include:
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School Choice

Why We Need School Choice

Your child’s education is likely one of your top priorities as a parent. But unfortunately, the amount of control you have over your child’s education can largely depend on where you live. Traditionally, where you send your child to school is dictated by schools assigned to you based on the neighborhood boundaries you live within. Where school district lines are drawn can divide communities in half, and where your home is located can determine the quality of education your child receives. Even if you live right on the border of a school district, you may be forced to send your child to an undesirable school. Even worse, your child's grades may start to suffer because they are not receiving the care and attention they need. 
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Method Schools

Return on Investment: Method CAASAP Test Scores Way Up

The results are in, and for 2018-19, Method's standardized California CAASAP Math and Language Arts scores continued climbing. Lower online class size, more personalized help, extended chat hours, and better curriculum...some of the features all students get at Method. Which leads to scores that keep going up.   
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