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Jean Walker

"Big Picture" Schools

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Is there anyone out there who could give me some opinions/thoughts about Big Picture Schools. Our state govt here is about to build two of them and they are being touted as the best thing since sliced bread. Any thoughts?

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I haven't heard of this "Big Picture" before, so I did some googling.

Here's what I found :

Big Picture : A Better School Model?

...

Accordingly, Big Picture Learning schools push students to pursue "real work" whenever possible. Academic classes, which occur only three days a week, emphasize depth and practical application. Instead of taking biology, for example, 10th grade students at the Met spend one afternoon a week working with education specialists at the zoo. Back at school, their advisors support them in documenting the skills and knowledge they gain from this work.

Assessment at Big Picture Learning schools is equally unconventional. Four times a year, students prepare and deliver 45-minute "exhibitions" in which they share their work with a panel of students, teachers, administrators and parents. Students are evaluated on the quality of their work as well as demonstrated progress toward their individualized learning goals, which are determined at the beginning of each year. For the most part, feedback comes in the form of lengthy narratives rather than numeric grades.

The real real work at Big Picture Learning schools takes the shape of an intense four-year-long internship program. During their fall semester, freshmen undergo training to prepare them for the rigors of working in the professional world, learning everything from telephone etiquette to resume-writing. At the same time, with the guidance of their home advisors — teachers who "loop" with them throughout all four years — they reflect on their skills and professional aspirations. "We want to get kids in touch with themselves," explained Washor in a recent interview. "We help them figure out what they love and then we support them in pursuing that."

http://www.bigpicture.org/2009/11/big-pict...r-school-model/

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Thanks, Cigdem. That is pretty much what I have been told about them. What I would love to know from someone is if they are considered successful. Are they only for a "certain type" of student? The two schools being built here are in low socio economic areas as if it is considered that those children need something different from other students. Maybe they do, but is this it?

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Is there no one out there who can tell me about Big Picture Schools in the US?

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Is there no one out there who can tell me about Big Picture Schools in the US?

I don't know about the US but they don't seem to have made an impact in the UK. Cigdem Göle description is very interesting. However, it is not the sort of thing that could be fitted into the British system.

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Mmmm... I see what you mean about the site. "Orrible!!

The "Big Picture School" is something different. It's much as Cigram's quote described. Apparently there are about 100 of them in the US and they are being touted as the best thing since sliced bread but I can't seem to find any critiques of them anywhere.

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Is there no one out there who can tell me about Big Picture Schools in the US?

While they are not known as "Big Picture" schools in the United States, at least as far as I know, there have been schools that specialize in putting the student in the real world working and studying at the same time.

Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, founded by Horace Mann in the 1800s, is one such school though they are in financial straights at the moment due to poor administration.

In Philadelphia, there is "The Parkway Program" that unites students with the Museums of Art and Natural History that line the Parkway, and is also known as the "School without walls."

There is a strong Charter School movement in the USA at the present time, where new schools can be chartered and the money that would have been used in the public school diverted to the Charter School, depending on how many students are enrolled. Many of these school also take a radical approach to education.

As examples there is the CharTech school in Somers Point, NJ, mainly upper class kids, and the inner city Camden NJ Charter School Academy, which is mainly minority students from poor neighborhoods. Both are successful, while most new Charter schools usually fail and fold within a few years.

Hope that helps,

Bill Kelly

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Thanks, Bill. That is interesting and, yes, they do sound similar but I guess what I'm trying to find out is whether Big Picture Schools (which are apparently quite specific schools and growing in number - see website below) are succeeding from someone objective rather than the huge spin that all the websites seem to have.

http://www.bigpicture.org/about-us/

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