Imagine a school with no classrooms, bells, or textbooks where students work at their own pace, are not graded, and are able to decide what to study. Have you ever heard of a school where teachers have control of the learning program, the hiring and retention of personnel, and are responsible for the success of the school? This book, based on a little school in a rural town of Minnesota, describes the creation of and development of learning communities that are changing the conversation about what schools can be and do. The book is divided into three sections: the founding of the Minnesota New Country School, a world renowned small learning community that created a student and teacher ownership model that is being replicated, collected essays by extended community members, contributing consultants, and interested parties that have been influenced by and have influenced the development of new learning communities based on the model, results from some of the learning communities. For teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, or any educator interested in taking reform to another level.
Doug Thomas has been the director of the Gates-EdVisions Project since the reception of the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to replicate the MNCS and EdVisions model. Walter Enloe is a teacher in Hamline University's Graduate School of Education. He has been a consultant with EdVisions since 2000. Ron Newell is presently working with the replication efforts of the Gates-EdVisions Project. Previously, he taught high school history and social studies for 25 years.
Part 1 Foreword by Dennis Littky Part 2 Introduction by Ron Newell Part 3 Part 1: The Founding and Development of the Minnesota New Country School Chapter 4 1. Little Did We Know Chapter 5 2. Putting Ideas to Work Chapter 6 3. Student Ownership: Teacher Ownership Chapter 7 4. The EdVisions Project Approach: Facilitating Student Choice Part 8 Part 2: Building the Learning Community Chapter 9 5. Building a Learning Community: The Conscious Pursuit of an Idea Chapter 10 6. Democratic Circles Chapter 11 7. Experiential Learning: Why Project Based Learning Works Chapter 12 8. Teaching Excellence through Place-Based Projects Part 13 Part 3: Some Results of the Learning Communities Chapter 14 9. MNCS Graduates: Telling Lived Stories Chapter 15 10. Constituting a Democratic Learning Community: The Avalon Experience Chapter 16 11. Why Are These Schools Cool? Voices of the Students and Parents Part 17 Afterword by Doug Thomas Part 18 Index Part 19 About the Editors