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Big Picture Learning

location_on United States

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

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.

HundrED 2020
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Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2020

HundrED 2019

HundrED 2018

Web presence

1995

Established

44K

Children/users

8

Countries
Organisation
Not-for-profit
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
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

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.

 

Impact & scalability

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
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Media

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

Implementation steps

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.

In order for schools and teachers to be able to place students at the centre of their own learning, they need to be prepared to ask themselves some tough questions. 

These may include:

  • Do I know about my students’ individual interests and talents?
  • Do I help my students understand how learning contributes to our community and the world?
  • Do my students have opportunities to tinker and make guesses?
  • Do my students have real choices about what, when and how to learn and demonstrate their abilities?
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.

The 10 Expectations portal supports schools and teachers as they work towards a student-centred approach to learning. Free resources include videos, rubrics and interactive surveys for students, teachers and parents. These help schools understand if they are providing a truly engaging learning environment and allows them to ask the vital question: “Have we considered students’ own expectations of us?".

Choose one or two of the ten expectations to start the journey towards student-centred learning. 

 

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.

Parents are a valued part of the Big Picture Learning community. There are tools and example questions on the 10 Expectations portal that are specifically designed to consider the parents' views and expectations of schools. 

As well as meeting with students and advisors four times a year to review the learning plans, parents play a proactive role in their children’s learning, collaborating in the planning and assessment of student work.

 

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.

Learning Through Internships (LTI) is central to the Big Picture Learning approach and aims to make education more relevant and engaging. Students  build knowledge, understanding and skills in the context of authentic work. Big Picture students may spend up to two days a week as an intern. 

To support the spread of this educational approach, Big Picture Learning has created a toolkit complete with free resources and advice on how to develop meaningful internships within the local community. 

 

Spread of the innovation

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