Pahranagat Valley Middle School started a new curriculum, Summit Learning, for the 2018-19 school year. According to Summit Learning’s website, “Summit’s research-backed approach leads to better student outcomes. Summit students are also able to articulate what they are learning, why they are learning, and how they learn best. They can advocate for themselves, know their passions and interests, and have a long-term goal and plan rooted in these passions and interests.”
The curriculum involves sixteen habits of success and cognitive skills. There are three parts to their program. The first part involves mentoring. Students meet one- on-one with dedicated mentors who support them in setting and achieving both short- and long-term goals. The faculty act as mentors to the students and meet each week to discuss their goals and help solve issues.
Second, students apply their knowledge, skills, and habits to projects that prepare them for real-life future scenarios. These student-selected projects take several weeks to complete.
Third, the students are taught how to set goals, make plans, and demonstrate their skills and knowledge. The students also have Personal Learning Time (PLT) which allows them to work on areas of struggle, homework, and assessments from teachers.
The sixth graders in Pioche piloted the program last year. The Lincoln County School District learned about the curriculum through Superintendent Pam Teel. Summit Learning did a presentation for all of the superintendents in Nevada.
After the test pilot’s success, Pioche added fifth grade to the program this school year.
Pioche’s principal, Stephanie Vincent, expressed, “This curriculum has created better student engagement, less discipline issues, and the students are using a higher level of thinking. My favorite aspect of the new curriculum is the project- based learning which makes the kids excited about learning and engaging.”
Panaca and Caliente added their fourth, fifth, and sixth graders to the program this school year as well. PVMS heard positive things about the program and its results and visited Pioche to see the program in action.
The platform uses professional development to help train the teachers and faculty involved in the program. They have two-day spring and fall conventions, along with a week-long training before school starts each year. The curriculum is free to the district and schools, thanks to funding by private corporations.
Principal Mike Strong commented, “The first few weeks have been hard to transition, but any change is hard, especially when you are learning yourself. The beauty of this curriculum is that you get to work with students to grow and learn at the same time. The students get to become lifetime learners instead of learning content and moving on to forget it in the future. Students get to learn at their own pace and level of learning has become student-driven, not teacher-driven. I think it can be worth it if we hang in there.”
For more information on Summit Learning, visit their website at www.summitlearning.org.
PVMS will hold a parent meeting with Strong on Sept. 18, at 9 a.m., to further discuss the new curriculum .