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Granite State group proposes student-centered learning

New Hampshire Union Leader

April 20. 2014 11:02PM

MANCHESTER — Representatives of the Granite State Organizing Project are expected to make a presentation this week before city school officials on student-centered learning, while also making a pitch for more of these opportunities within the district.

The city schools’ Committee on Curriculum and Instruction is scheduled to hear the presentation Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the NH Primary Room on the third floor of City Hall.

Committee members will hear from four students who have taken part in student-centered learning projects within the Manchester school system through the Young Organizers United (Y.O.U.) program, according to Sarah Jane Knoy, executive director of the Granite State Organizing Project.

“They will be relating their experiences to the committee,” said Knoy. “I will be there representing the project, but it’s my hope that the students will do most of the talking through the presentation.”

Y.O.U. is a group of immigrant and refugee students attending high school in Manchester, whose efforts focus on ensuring that the culture at city schools is welcoming to the immigrant population, including all aspects of diversity.

“Y.O.U. and the Granite State Organizing Project also advocate for more student-centered learning in Manchester schools,” said Knoy. “Specifically we are looking at ways it can be used more effectively, and exploring ways that block scheduling can be utilized, including the possibility of allowing flexible scheduling for seniors and juniors.”

Knoy pointed out that Y.O.U. had recently had a productive relationship with Manchester High School Central.

Student-centered learning is based on the concept that student choice should be given priority in the learning process, she said.· Students often work in teams to solve a problem or explore a concept, rather than answer prescribed questions or memorize material. Learning often takes place in non-traditional settings, often outside the classroom or even the school building — including internships, after-school programs, or through online courses.

This week’s presentation comes on the heels of a settlement with a federal civil rights agency aimed at increasing the number of minority students in advanced high school courses.

A report released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found that black, Latino and English-learning students were disproportionately under-enrolled in the Manchester school district’s Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

The DOE report found that during the 2010-2011 school year, 26 of 434 seats in AP courses were occupied by black or Latino students. Their enrollment in city high schools was 381 and 596, respectively.

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