Collection Overview
Connected Learning Equity & Access Teaching Writing

Designing for Connected Learning and Teaching

12 Posts in this Collection

More often than not, learning is still thought to be a matter of skilling up, remembering facts and figures, and knowing what’s been known and proving you have the skills that “matter.” It is often organized around sorting students (Are they ready for the next grade? For AP? For college? For graduation?) and, in our great information age, tests and data promise to help us see something we still can’t figure out—even with all the tests and data—about access and about equity.

What if we really stopped to redesign what we are doing and approached learning differently? What if we design learning opportunities that center around what brings joy and inspires passion? What if we approached the challenges of access and equity by supporting youth in being agents in their own learning and directly addressing issues important to them and their communities? What would we see, and learn, if we approached learning this way?

Teachers across the country do actually know what this kind of learning looks like and, over the last few years via LRNG Innovators, they have been working to redesign their everyday learning and school spaces to tap into the interests of their students. These interests might be those built from youth’s personal passions or they may be more connected to something political, philosophical or historical in nature that impacts them and their communities (Ito, et al., 2020; Kirshner, Strobel, and Fernández, 2003). Either way, what we can see and learn from across this work is that this powerful learning is doable and that it provides access to opportunities and supports equity for students.

The projects shared here are part of a larger collection of designs and stories that show the possibilities when teachers and students co-design for more creative and connected learning. We invite you to explore them, to tap into inspiration and resources, while also raising questions about how these approaches could work and what they would look like in your context.

Here are a few stories about what it can look like when youth have an opportunity to follow their interests and passions with the support of caring adults – including teachers, peers, families and mentors:

These stories show us what it can look like to support deep learning through project-based design that emerges from youth questions and community inquiries:

In these stories we see teachers working alongside key community partners and tapping into larger resources that helps make the reimagining possible and impactful:

Here we see schools addressing challenging issues in their schools and community contexts by designing alongside youth and engaging them as collaborators:

Read more about LRNG Innovators, founded in 2014 by John Legend’s Show Me Campaign with support from the National Writing Project, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and Collective Shift. You can also tap into more teacher resources and stories at The Current.

Hero image from another great LRNG Innovators story: Advocacy for Game Design: Classes that Keep Student Interest, Bronx NY

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Today’s Reasons Why We Need Students to Write for Authentic Audiences
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The Choice and Voice team, made up of six elementary teachers from rural Bastrop, Texas and a Teacher Consultant with the Heart of Texas Writing Project, embarked on a year-long journey of deep professional development to create responsive curriculum that grows authentic, enthusiastic, and motivated writers in our rural Title I Kindergarten-3rd grade classrooms.
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Let 'Em Shine ~ Elevating PBL
By Sandra McLaughlin and Angela Stokes
Energized by recent community debates over local Confederate monuments, The Let ‘Em Shine project invited students to help unite the community by creating a symbolic “monument” that tells a broader story and honors the rich cultural history of Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Lessons in Linked Learning and Maker Education from the Wonder Workshop
By Paula Mitchell
As a small public school in Oakland, California embarked on a culture shift, these educators moved away from whole-class, lockstep instruction, and toward small-group, personalized learning with differentiated instruction based on students’ interests and needs.
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