SLCs and Career Academies

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What are the curricular implications of SLCs and Academies?

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Some teachers fear that if they become part of an SLC they will have to abandon the syllabi and lessons they have developed for their own subject and won’t be able to meet state standards or cover required state curriculum. This is a legitimate fear; this is their first responsibility.

The cross-curricular learning in an SLC doesn’t require wholesale changes but rather modest adaptations that allow teachers to show how subjects usually taught in “silos” (i.e., English I leads to English II-IV but is connected to nothing else) in fact relate to each other in the “real” world outside high school.

How is this done? Usually the teachers in an SLC spend time studying each other’s syllabi to see how such connections might be made. For example, students might study the effects of pesticides on our food in chemistry or our bodies in biology, while looking at their statistical growth in math, reading Silent Spring in English, and comparing today’s farming practices with those of earlier eras in history.

Creative lessons in this vein abound.  Useful Internet URLs in this respect are covered in Career Academy Support Network's (CASN) Web-Based Curriculum Resources for Career Academies . To help teachers develop a sequence of career-technical courses through high school CASN has developed Course Sequences for Career Academies, providing examples of such sequences in the 16 career cluster fields.

Most experts feel that grouping students more heterogeneously helps them to reach their fullest potential, as opposed to the more traditional approach of viewing them as part of one “track” or another (e.g., “college prep” or “vocational”). Thus elimination of low levels of a given subject often goes hand-in-hand with SLCs, asking all students to strive to meet higher standards.

Career academies view going to college and having a career as common goals. While the typical student will spend four years in college, he or she will spend 40 years working. Thus the longer-term goal is to find a rewarding career; college can help. To encourage college going many academies have developed articulation agreements with local community and four-year colleges, dual enrollment arrangements that provide high school students with initial college credits.

Resources

Web-Based Curriculum Resources for Career Academies

Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education; 2002.

Seventy-five good websites for curriculum that work well in academies, much of it free, with brief descriptions and ratings, organized from the general to the specific, and live links to each site from the electronic version. web-based_curriculum_resource_guide_11.09.pdf (298.9KB)

Career Academy Course Sequences

Shores, K., Markham, T., Lenz, R. Career Academy Support Network, UC Berkeley, Graduate School of Education, 2003.

Examples of course sequences through high school in many career fields, drawn from successful academies around the country. Course_Sequences_2.25.1010-03-04-01-41-27.pdf (451.39KB)

 

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Last modified on 12/13/2010

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