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School of One reimagines the classroom to meet the needs of every student


magine a classroom where each individual student becomes the center of the learning experience­­—where teachers, a dynamic curriculum and diverse resources ensure each student’s academic success. Imagine a classroom where every student can learn in his or her own way: a self-directed pace with instruction that meets each student’s unique needs, interests and learning preferences. In New York City, hundreds of students receive their math instruction this very way. It’s called School of One.

Classrooms Reimagined

Learning Reimagined

Teaching Reimagined

By integrating multiple learning experiences in a single, open space, School of One fundamentally shifts the way we think about the classroom experience. No longer is it a ‘one size fits all’ solution – where all students are expected to learn the same skill at the same time. Instead, the classroom adapts to each student’s individual needs and learning styles.

No two students learn exactly the same way. At School of One, a dynamic scheduling system ensures that students receive instruction that is personalized to their particular academic needs, interests and preferences. Students learn in the ways that they are most successful—whether it is with a live teacher, online, collaboratively with peers or one-on-one with a tutor.

Teachers work in an open learning environment, where colllaboration is essential and accountability is shared. By providing teachers with daily access to student achievement data and relieving them of a multitude of administrative tasks, School of One enables teachers to focus more of their energy on delivering high quality lessons and on providing more personalized attention to each student.

Classrooms Reimagined: The School of One Model Meeting the Needs of All Students In a traditional classroom, a teacher leads a class of 25-30 students through the set curriculum of a particular grade level. All students cover the same material at the same time, regardless of whether some students are behind or ahead. This model of learning assumes that all students learn in the same way and at the same pace. It places an immense burden on teachers to meet the needs of individual students each day. School of One is an effort to shift the classroom experience away from an industrial school model and towards a model that is organized around the needs of individual learners. This provides students with the opportunity to learn at their own speed, in their own way—and to be successful and empowered as they learn.

M u lt i p l e L e a r n i n g E x p e r i e n c e s i n a S i n g l e C l a s s r o o m To meet the disparate needs of students within a classroom, School of One combines live, teacher-led instruction with other learning modalities such as small group instruction, small group collaborative learning, online learning with software, online learning with remote instructors and independent learning. This design sets the stage for a significant breakthrough: multiple skills can be taught simultaneously in different parts of the classroom, and students can learn at their own speed and in the modalities most likely to be successful for them.

Large Group Instruction

Live Investigation

Small Group Collaboration

Virtual Instruction

Live Remote Instruction

Independent Practice

At the beginning of the school year, students take an initial assessment in order to diagnose their particular academic learning needs and to generate an initial hypothesis on how they learn best. Every student is then given multiple opportunities to master a particular skill. For example, a student may take two live instruction lessons, one online activity, and collaborate with other students to master a skill such as adding fractions with unlike denominators. If he has difficulty with the content, School of will provide alternative lessons or learning modalities until he achieves mastery. Students who continue to struggle are flagged so teachers can respond and provide intensive intervention. Unique algorithms, along with teachers, identify the modalities that are most effective for a student and allow School of One to personalize learning every day.

e v e ry s t u d e n t ma s t e r s c o n t e n t Every state prescribes the specific skills that students must master at each grade level. Those particular skills, when properly sequenced, provide a picture of how mastery of every skill relates to one another. School of One’s middle school math program is built on skills that span from fourth grade through ninth grade. A team of expert math teachers carefully reviewed each skill and mapped which are predecessors for others. The result is a skill map covering nearly 400 math skills. At School of One, the learning progression serves as the basis for all content, but students start at different places along the progression and move through it at their own speed. By carefully analyzing each student’s current compentency level, School of One is able to generate a playlist—a list of skills for each student to be working on. That may mean, for example, that a student may be ready for seventh grade content in one area of math but needs sixth grade content in another. The playlist is continually adjusted as students acquire skills along the way.

“ School of One is based on one simple idea—that we are organizing an entire school around the needs of each individual student.” Joel Rose, CEO and Founder of School of One

a D y n am i c C u r r i c u l u m School of One uses educational content from more than 50 academic partners that in total have contributed more than 5,000 lessons into the program’s lesson bank. School of One carefully reviews each lesson for quality, and catalogs a series of attributes about each one, including the skill each lesson covers, the applicable learning modalities and other key information about how each lesson can best be used. This information enables the system to find the most effective match between each student’s profile and the most appropriate instructional content.

Data D r i v e s I n s t r u c t i o n In a typical classroom, matching different student profiles with multiple types of instructional content is nearly impossible. There are simply too many variables and too little time for a teacher to effectively organize the day around the needs of each student. At School of One, the learning algorithm considers factors such as each student’s academic history and profile; the previous day’s assessment data; and the available content, space, staffing and technology. With this information, it generates a recommended schedule for each student and each teacher. As it collects data, the algorithm learns more about students and becomes more effective at predicting the academic plan that will be most effective for them.

“This is what teachers have been asking for…” Jason Levy, Principal of I.S. 339, Bronx, NY

Students’ schedules are displayed on monitors located throughout the School of One math center and they can also access their schedule online when they log in each day through the School of One portal.

Data allows School of One to: Lesson Bank LO LO

Student Profile

Learning Algorithm


determine whether students should progress to the next skill on the playlist; update each student’s profile based on what is most effective for that student; evaluate the effectiveness of the instructional content; and

Daily Teacher Schedules

Daily Student Schedules

inform the schedules of students with similar profiles.

CRE ATING THE SPA CE TO LE A RN School of One is implemented in a large, open space that is subdivided into small stations and organized by various modalities. This open learning environment allows for students to freely move across different learning spaces depending on their daily schedule. Student schedules are projected on large monitors distributed around the space so students know where to go when they come into the room each day. The School of One space also fosters greater student-teacher interactions—giving students a chance to work with multiple teachers in the same learning space. The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) sponsored a design charrette with some of the nation’s leading architects and designers to help to conceptualize the physical design for each site’s implementation.

e n g a g i n g Pa r e n t s School of One provides a unique opportunity for parents to have a window into their child’s learning. Over time, School of One will give parents online access to information on how their child is progressing. They can also find supplemental learning materials to support their child’s learning at home.

Learning Reimagined: Personalized for Every Student

D AV I D 6th grade David is a very social student—he’s outgoing, happy and has lots of friends. He generally does well in math, and enjoys the subject. He learns well in groups, but also in one-to-one situations. After mastering adding and subtracting fractions yesterday, David walks into the School of One learning center, looks at the big screen and sees that today he will be working in the learning station known as Prospect Park. There, he logs into his portal and learns that he will be working on multiplying and dividing fractions. He starts the class with a one-on-one session with his remote tutor who takes David through an online lesson. Next, David moves to another area of the math center, The Heights, for small group instruction with five other students also working on multiplying and dividing fractions. Here, the teacher reviews key concepts and does practice exercises with David and the others—pushing them with key questions to test their understanding. At the end of class, David takes his assessment. He scores five out of five— excellent! David smiles, knowing he’s mastered multiplying and dividing fractions and will be on to a new skill on his playlist tomorrow! “ I like that it makes school not too hard, not too easy, but just right for me.” 7th grade School of One student, Manhattan, NY

J ade 7th grade Jade is shy but works well in small groups where she can work with other students. She enters the School of One math center, looks up at the big screen to see what her first modality is and learns that it is small group collaboration in a learning station called The Plaza. She and three other classmates are working on calculating percentages, and dig into a problem that has them computing their total cost for a meal at a local restaurant. Each student orders an appetizer, entrée and drink, and then must work out the total bill with tax and tip. They work together with the support of a teacher who observes and steps in to guide them when they get stuck. Jade then goes to practice what she’s learned in the independent learning zone where she’ll work on a computer-based lesson on calculating percentages. At the end of the class, Jade works on her assessment and scores a three out of five. She knows she has work to do, but feels confident that she will get it next time. In her old math class, she used to get upset and frustrated when she didn’t understand a lesson because she was afraid that if she didn’t understand it, she would fall behind the rest of the class and be lost. But Jade knows that at School of One she will practice the skill until she is ready to move on. She also knows teachers are available to spend extra time with her if she needs it. She feels good and is ready to tackle the calculating percentages again the next day.

“ I like the communication with the tutor online. I get scared sometimes if I have to look at a teacher and ask a question, but sometimes you just type a question and they’ll answer it.” 7th grade School of One student, Brooklyn, NY

Teaching Reimagined: A Collaborative Experience t e a c h i n g AT s c h o o l o f o n e In most classrooms, teachers are responsible for teaching all of the standards set forth by the state from September to June. Lessons are delivered to all students at once and with limited opportunity to differentiate the way they teach a skill to meet the needs of every student. This is true for both early career and veteran teachers, whose job responsibilities are usually indistinguishable despite their differences in skill and expertise. At School of One, teachers are responsible for a defined set of skills on the learning progression, rather than all of them. This allows for greater specialization in a particular set of skills and frees teachers to focus on helping students develop a deeper, more conceptual understanding of the material. Lessons are delivered to smaller groups of students that can range from between three and twenty-four. This lower student load helps teachers to tailor instruction to address students’ needs. And because students are progressing at their own rate, teachers frequently deliver the same lesson more than one time in a school year to different groups of students—allowing them to improve the effectiveness of their lessons over time.

U s i n g Data t o Im p r o v e P r a c t i c e Daily progress reports measure how each student is performing against his or her assigned playlist. This data provides teachers with information on common misconceptions about how students are learning each skill and how to refine or improve the quality of their lessons. All in all, School of One’s technology streamlines numerous administrative tasks related to grading, assessments and planning, allowing teachers to spend significantly more time preparing high-quality lessons, synthesizing the material and diagnosing student needs. It allows teachers to focus on their core job function—developing effective and engaging learning experiences that help students succeed. “ School of One gives me

b u i l d i n g A T e a c h i n g C o mm u n i t y

more energy at the end

Teacher collaboration is central to the School of One model. In a traditional school model, one math teacher may be exclusively responsible for math instruction for 100-120 students over four class periods. In School of One, several teachers deliver math instruction in the math center at one time and share accountability for the success of all students.

of the day. Now, I don’t

To support their transition to the School of One model, teachers receive pre-opening professional development to learn strategies for effective implementation. Once the program begins, teachers have time each day to collectively review student information, discuss the progress of individual students and share strategies for success.

have to worry about administrative tasks and focus on what I love— teaching kids and helping them succeed.” Lauren Slough, Teacher at M.S. 131, Manhattan, NY

The Future of School of One C o n t i n u o u s Im p r o v e m e n t Using rigorous evaluation and feedback from students, teachers and families, School of One is committed to developing a deeper understanding of the best way to support both students and teachers. School of One wants to ensure that every student in a School of One classroom is receiving a rich learning experience that is effective at meeting their unique academic needs. In addition, School of One aims to continually improve teachers’ experience—strengthening their relationship with students and building teachers’ capacity to differentiate their instruction for every child. Preliminary research has shown promising results—School of One is accelerating students’ learning compared to students in traditional classrooms. A copy of relevant research studies can be found on School of One’s website at

“ At the School of One, technology enriches the learning experiences of students. But just as importantly it also empowers teachers to personalize learning. With the smart use of technology, teachers

F u t u r e E x pa n s i o n As long as School of One continues to have a positive impact on student learning, it will grow to serve more schools and students in other cities and school districts nationwide and across the globe. While initial expansion plans are modest, refining the model and enhancing the School of One technology platform will allow School of One to be able to expand to more cities, more subjects and more grade levels over time.

have expanded the tools at their disposal to help their students succeed.” Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education

“New York City’s School of One may turn out to be the single most important initiative conducted in education so far. It is the future.” — Arthur Levine, President, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation President Emeritus, Teachers College at Columbia University School of One® is a registered trademark and service mark of the New York City Department of Education.

School of One Informational Booklet  

Criteria: Create a bold brand around School of One and help communicate their message of how architecture and technology tailored learning c...

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