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How can personalized learning enable all students to follow their interests?

Big Picture Learning

location_on United States
Big Picture Learning makes personalized education more manageable by breaking students up into small groups, called an advisory. Each advisory is supported and lead by an advisor, a teacher that works closely with their group of students and forms personalized relationships with each member. Internships are a crucial part of the method. The advisors work with each student to arrange opportunities best suited to them, providing real-world learning alongside creating future career plans.
Elliot Washor, Co-founder Big Picture Learning
We at Big Picture Learning stand for unbridled, fearless curiosity and we will continue, as we always have, to foster learning spaces which create the wake in which students can freely, and with courage, pursue their passions and interests

Elliot Washor, Co-founder Big Picture Learning

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

HundrED 2019

HundrED 2018

Key figures

Innovation Overview

5 - 18
Age Group
44 000
Children/Users
8
Countries
1995
Established
Not-for-profit
Organisation
5 265
Views
Updated on May 10th, 2021
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about the innovation

What is Big Picture Learning?

One of the biggest criticisms of mass education systems is that they are too standardized, or 'one size fits all.' As we all have different learning styles, interests and talents it would make sense for education to be personalized to complement our unique abilities.

Not only would this increase motivation for students, but could help children who do not currently fit with the current learning style employed in education, potentially helping individuals who struggle with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.

That's all well and good, but the reality of making learning personalized in a class of 30+ students seems difficult and extremely daunting, especially when teachers are tasked with preparing students for standardized tests and set learning outcomes.

So, while the positives of personalized education are recognized, implementation can seem impossible.

Big Picture Learning makes personalized education more managable by breaking the students up into small groups of fifteen students, called an advisory.

Each advisory is supported and lead by an advisor, a teacher that works closely with the group of students and forms personalized relationships with each member of their group. 

They stay in the same advisory for four years, and each student works closely with his or her advisor to personalize their learning by identifying interests, figuring out how they learn best and what motivates them. Parents and families are also actively involved in the process, helping to shape the student’s continuation of learning.

Internships are a crucial part of the method. The advisors work with each student to arrange opportunities best suited to them, providing real-world learning alongside creating future career plans.

The result is a student-centered learning experience, where students are actively invested in their learning and feel challenged to pursue their interests by a supportive community of educators, professionals, and family members who truly get to know them as individuals.

 
Research

HundrED Academy Review

IMPACT & SCALABILITY
Innovativeness

Big Picture Learning works at the level of the individual student. Each student has a voice in their own learning and a sense of agency in both the school and wider communities.

Impact

Established in Rhode Island, USA in 1995, the very first class of Big Picture Learning school students graduated in 2000 with a 96% graduation rate. 98% of its graduates were admitted to post-secondary institutions, receiving over $500,000 in scholarships to help fund their college experiences. 

Scalability

As well as having 65 schools in USA, the Big Picture Learning philosophy of "one student at a time" has already seen the idea spread to a number of countries including New Zealand, India, Kazakstan, China and Belize where new schools have been created, existing schools have transformed or national policies have been influenced.

Academy review results
Scalability
Impact
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process
Media

See this innovation in action

In Action: BPL Learning Through Internships Programs
BPL Learning Through Internships programs we have at all of our schools. Where students are out of school two days a week working with mentors they find and choose around what they are interested in learning about
In Action: BPL Learning Through Internships programs
We have BPL Learning Through Internships programs at all of our schools. Where students are out of school two days a week working with mentors they find and choose around what they are interested in learning about. 
Students Connecting to Mentors in the Skilled Trades
Harbor Freight Fellows
10 Expectations
We hear often of the "high expectations" schools must have of and for their students, yet we seldom hear of the expectations students have of their schools. Students' expectations constitute the new "rules of engagement" in the relationship that young people want with their schools.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K96c-TGnSf4
Home
https://www.navigatingourway.com/
NEXT School, Mulund W - India's 1st Big Picture School
India's first Big Picture Learning school!
Dennis Littky: Reimagining Education One Student at a Time | HundrED Innovation Summit
How Big Picture Learning Schools Works
https://youtu.be/8O5fYxg0Qig
Meet a BPL Student: Naomi Elliott
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrPAuQXbWSY
Meet a BPL Student - Trevor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG6DP7fd_3w
Meet a BPL Student - Eldridge (featured at Big Bang)
https://vimeo.com/229123066
How does Big Picture Learning define personalization?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8BQsnaISYlA

Milestones

Achievements & Awards

May 2019
2000 views
November 2018
HundrED 2019
July 2017
HundrED 2018
June 2017
Innovation page created on HundrED.org
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Steps

Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

01
Consider the students' expectations of school
We often hear of the expectations that schools have of students, but we rarely get a chance to hear about the expectations that students have of schools. These get less attention, but are essential to keeping students engaged and in school.
Read more
02
Explore the 10 Expectations portal
To support schools and teachers to move towards personalized learning, Big Picture Learning has created a portal filled with useful resources.
Read more
03
Build the learning community
Parents and families are actively involved in the learning process, helping to shape the student’s learning plan and are enrolled as resources to the school community.
Read more
04
Develop internships for engaging and relevant education
Real world learning is best accomplished in the real world. Big Picture students intern with experts in their field of interest, completing authentic projects and gaining experience and exposure to how their interests intersect with the real world.
Read more