Welcome to Project Wonder!
Our current 6th and 7th grade learners will be entering the world of work and independent life in the mid-2020s. What will the world be like that they live in, work in and create in? Nobody has a crystal ball, but as educational leaders it is our responsibility to navigate the border between the “now” and “next” to ensure we provide the most powerful learning opportunities that will lead to a successful life and career in this uncertain future.
What do we see as we navigate a path to the future for our schools? The Global Future Councils of the World Economic forum recently painted this picture…
- Virtual reality will be as common as our screens today and may even replace our screens. Immersive experiences will be as unobtrusive as a pair of sunglasses. How will this development impact industry, jobs and the economy, and learning?
- This year, medical trials of a gene editing innovation, CRISPR, will begin in the US. Will physicians be able to edit genes, freeing us from diseases that have previously claimed countless lives? What are the ethical and policy implications of what, until recently, was science fiction? Will the current generation be able to navigate this potential ethical and legal minefield?
- Artificial Intelligence is gaining traction at an exponential rate. It’s already the focus of companies like Tesla who are aiming to produce fully self-driving cars and trucks within the next few years. What other sectors of society will AI transform? How will it transform the workforce, the economy and even how we learn in primary and secondary education?
What will it take for the today’s young learners to be fully prepared to navigate this changing world as productive, ethical citizens ready to make a contribution to the world of the 2020s and beyond? We believe it’s this: Learn how to learn. That’s why in the 2015-16 school year, stakeholders were engaged in a year-long visioning process driven by two questions:
- What are the skills, knowledge/literacies and dispositions our graduates will need to be successful?
- What kinds of learning environments will best foster the development of these competencies and qualities?
Groups of stakeholders were engaged across the year and in different ways. You can learn more about the details of the process in this interview. Stakeholders and activities included in the process included:
- Students – student advisory groups in each of our school buildings; Shadow A Student Day; Question Week; survey
- Community and School Board – visioning sessions; survey
- Teachers – Innovate Salisbury focus group; Question Week; survey
- School Leaders – leadership team meetings; Question Week; survey
As the process developed over the school year, experts and thought leaders were also engaged in conversations around educational innovations through the TLTalkRadio podcast. Over 35 experts were interviewed. As learners ourselves, we tapped into expert wisdom, informing conversations around the above questions with stakeholders.
The final products of this work – our organizational vision for learning in the classroom – are the Profile of A Graduate and Beliefs About Learning.
Project Wonder is a natural next step in Salisbury Middle School’s journey to realize what is outlined in the Profile of a Graduate and Learning Beliefs. Having spent some extended time growing our understanding of this work through action research including the TLTalkRadio and Shift Your Paradigm podcasts, school visits and job-embedded professional learning, the time has come to build a prototype of a powerful learning environment that will focus on developing the content knowledge, dispositions and skill sets today’s learners need to thrive now and into the future.
We are proud of Middle School mentors David Beyer and Josh Ecker along with leaders Ken Parliman and Rob Sawicki. This is bold work that will immediately benefit those learners who choose to enroll in Project Wonder. We will support this work and iterate along the way to make this the most powerful learning experience possible for our middle school learners.
Thanks for your interest in the program, and don’t hesitate to reach out to Mr. Parliman or Mr. Sawicki as your learners grow.
Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning