P21 / STEAM
AUHSD is fast becoming an acknowledged leader in the national movement to infuse real world learning into the classroom, as recent initiatives served to further raise the District’s profile in successfully preparing students for college and 21st century careers.
The first event was the P21 Summit, which drew more than 350 educators from across Orange County. P21, or the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, was founded as a coalition bringing together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to help students prepare for 21st century careers.
The summit was a great opportunity to share best practices supporting 21st century teaching and learning. The AUHSD was front and center at the event, which drew praise from the likes of Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County superintendent of schools, and Dr. Helen Soule, executive director of the National P21 organization.
The second event that showcased AUHSD’s prominence in the national movement was the P21 Sustainability Conference at Cal State Fullerton. For the second consecutive year, students performed “TED Talks” outlining their solutions for global issues related to the environment, alternative energy, health, or sustainable design.
"The global problems facing the next generation of Americans will bring immense challenges, as well as tremendous opportunities,” said Anaheim Union High School District Superintendent Michael B. Matsuda, who also serves as co-chairman of C21, which is the California chapter of P21. “It will take innovators and entrepreneurs in the STEAM field (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) to solve sustainability issues, including climate change, health care, alternative energy, water conservation, and sustainable food.”
The added bonus is that students highlighted in their TED Talks global competency skills such as verbal communication, articulating complex topics, advocacy, and relating issues to their own lives and communities, said Orange County United Way Senior Education Manager Sergio Contreras, whose agency is the primary sponsor of the showcase.
To successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges, and a globally competitive workforce, it is clear that schools must align classroom environments with real world environments. That means not only emphasizing core content, but other academic subjects such as foreign languages, the visual and performing arts, civics, government, economics, history, and geography. P21 also emphasizes emotional and social intelligence (students being able to collaborate and exhibit good leadership and team skills), literacies in the use of media/technology, financial, civic, and environmental literacy, and global awareness/competence.
We are extremely proud of the work that is under way to bring student learning and instructional practices in line with the goals of P21. We are also extremely grateful to one partner in particular—Orange County United Way—for providing us with significant financial resources to advance our work by supporting many initiatives including the P21 Summit, the P21 Corporate Mentoring Program, P21 Sustainability Showcase, MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement) programs, tutors for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) Program, and the AUHSD College and Career Fair. The AUHSD and OCUW are aligned and focused on many of the same outcomes, including P21 indicators such as A-G college-readiness courses, Career Technical Education Pathways, literacy, and STEAM education.
OC United Way’s cornerstone program, in place in the AUHSD since 2010, is Destination Graduation (DG), which seeks to encourage students to graduate by addressing an educational achievement gap fueled by family and community poverty, language and cultural barriers, lack of advocacy, and limited educational support outside the school system. This gap disproportionately affects Latino students, who represent the majority of those who do not finish high school.
Destination Graduation partners with five schools in the AUHSD—Anaheim, Katella, and Savanna high schools and South and Brookhurst junior high schools. The schools were selected based on their commitment to AVID, an elective class which creates a college-going culture by focusing on at-risk students who benefit from strategies that promote educational success in high school and beyond. A majority of DG students are low-income Latinos who will be the first in their family to attend college and, in some cases, even complete high school.
With the intensive training and support resources provided to the AVID teachers at the DG campuses, OC United Way is helping to build school leadership and enhance innovative teaching through AVID methods.
Destination Graduation also supports students directly with Roadtrip Nation curriculum designed to help create four-year high school plans to ensure A-G requirements are established and met. A final “roadtrip” project requires students interview community leaders in their career of interest, allowing the students to develop 21st-century skills.
OCUW also offers career exploration opportunities on and off campus through STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning at the Discovery Science and the Ocean Institute, where students engage in grade-level project-based learning and inquiry-based research activities that encourage them to consider pursuing a STEM-related academic career after graduation. Students are also exposed to mobile STEM career exhibits that explore job opportunities. A recent exhibit focused on engineering careers in various sectors, including alternative fuels, along with medical careers. Professionals in the field develop hands-on learning activities and provide students with links to relevant college and certification programs.
Finally, DG students are made aware of local career opportunities with field trips to STEM industry leaders such as ION Reality, Broadcom, Edwards Lifesciences, Allergan, Microsoft, and Saddleback Hospital. The field trips complement the AVID program college exploration field trips that expose students to higher education opportunities.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how the AUHSD is well positioned to be a leader in 21st Century education. Here are some additional highlights to round out our look at our P21 initiatives and our STEAM programs. We hope you have enjoyed visiting this site. Visit again!
Going Beyond Testing to Prepare Students for College and Careers
By Michael Matsuda
Respected educational leaders like Michael Fullan, Linda Darling Hammond, and David Conley have repeatedly warned us that we should not make one big test the main driver of education reform. Sadly, it seems that with the new Smarter Balanced Assessments that students throughout the state are taking now, many school districts are doing just that.
Across California, there is a danger that too many districts are focused on technology just to get students prepared for the Smarter Balanced test and not investing in integrating pedagogy with technology. For example, it would be a horrible misuse of public funds if students were just using iPads to take notes. Fullan warns of a missed opportunity if we are not investing in training teachers to use technology so that students can access more meaningful information and create better ways to problem solve. English learner advocates such as Shelly Spiegel Coleman are concerned that since the Smarter Balanced assessments do not measure speaking skills, oral communication will not be emphasized and long-term English learners will continue to languish behind mainstream students. Civil rights leader and Cal State Long Beach professor Jose Moreno is concerned that districts will implement Common Core with a business-as-usual approach and continue to narrowly focus on reading and math at the expense of all other content areas, thus limiting opportunities for Latinos and other underperforming groups for A-G readiness, which is required for university admissions. (A-G is the UC/CSU course sequence that includes world languages, science, social studies, the arts, and other courses in addition to math and English.)
The question for us, therefore, is not how prepared are California’s public schools for the Smarter Balanced Assessments, but how prepared are our 6 million K-12 students for college, career, and civic life as the next generation of Americans? Many educators who truly want to teach beyond the test are struggling with what college and career readiness really means.
Fortunately, there is at least one organization that has developed a framework to help build capacity and understanding. The organization is the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a consortium of educational organizations, business and educational non-profits that have developed a host of tools and rubrics that are helping to move the needle forward using easily understandable terms. For example, the “4 Cs”— collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking — is a term credited to P21 and is language that is accessible and widely used.
Moreover, the framework calls for access to a whole curriculum, including what we in California call the A-G requirements. It is vital to note that access to a whole curriculum should begin in pre-school and should be provided during the school day. When schools had to comply with the demands of the No Child Left Behind law as well as the accountability provisions triggered by he state’s Academic Performance Index, civic education, science, world languages, the arts, and career technical education were often pushed to after-school activities or weren’t taught at all. Millions of elementary and secondary school children, mostly low income and English learners, were given high dosages of reading and math test prep and tragically missed out on the other subjects. This is what happens when the test becomes the driver.
But when college and career readiness becomes the driver, great things can happen. Savanna High School in Anaheim is California’s first National P21 Exemplar School, so named because the learning environment and school culture reflect the fact that 21st century learning is taking place and contributing to student success. It is an urban public school that State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said, “should be cloned.” Why? Because it has implemented reform without changing the teaching staff, without extra monies, and without cherry-picking high performing students. What the staff did do was closely examine the P21 Framework, David Conley’s work on college readiness, and their own research to create a new vision, which has guided and transformed their school. Savanna students are doing well on measureable metrics including A-G readiness, graduation rates, Career Technical Education certificates, Seal of Biliteracy rates, writing and performance tasks, and student surveys.
But more importantly, Savanna students exhibit hard-to-measure metrics such as habits of mind, which are problem-solving, life-related skills necessary to operate effectively in society and navigate difficult and complex situations. These skills are evident through senior capstone interviews, where students sit down for 20 minutes with teachers and community members and reflect both orally and in writing on the relevance of their education and their future plans. I’ve personally interviewed students who may have many Cs on their transcripts, and who may have only average SATs, but who have demonstrated college and career readiness by overcoming difficult circumstances, often poverty related, and who can articulate their goals well and have identified a realistic pathway for getting there.
What is happening at Savanna can happen everywhere if leaders have the courage to do what’s right. It will take bold, innovative principals who can build teams of teacher leaders through collective capital—working together using combined skills and resources. And it will take superintendents and boards who develop 21st century visions that drive school reform. Otherwise, it could be business as usual.
Superintendent Torlakson: Savanna High School Should be 'Cloned'
April 25, 2013--State schools superintendent Tom Torlakson visited Savanna High to recognize AUHSD’s efforts at establishing P-21 partnerships. Under Torlakson's leadership, California had just become the 18th state to join the Partnership for a 21st Century Education alliance. When it comes to preparing students for 21st century careers, Savanna High School is a model for the state: "We want to clone this across California," Torlakson said.
At Savanna, for example, he saw students working on a solar-powered boat, training in the medical academy to graduate as certified nurses’ assistants--in Spanish--and earning IRS certification to assist the elderly and low-income community members during tax season through an online accounting class. "To have the state superintendent come to Savanna “really validates everything we are doing. It's amazing," teacher Bridget Wuff said.
The opportunity to get hands-on experience so they actually see the relevance of their studies is exactly what Torlakson says he is pushing for.
Students Successfully Petition Anaheim to Become Nation’s First P21 City
October 22, 2013--The City of Anaheim took the bold step of joining the P21 movement when some 200 AUHSD students presented more than 5,000 petitions to the Anaheim City Council urging officials to participate.
“We are proud community members in the city of Anaheim, affiliated with (Anaheim) High School in Anaheim Union High School District,” the petition states. “We want to express our support for Partnership for 21st Century Education that promotes the teaching of the 4Cs — Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication — in every classroom across all courses for every student. The P21 frameworks have been embraced by the California State Department of Education and now California is the 18th P21 state in the USA.
We are petitioning to support Mayor Tom Tait’s initiative to be the first city in the state to endorse P21 so that local businesses, community organizations, and city officials can better support and collaborate with our schools through internships and other creative partnerships that are aligned with the P21 Framework.
In addition to the 4C’s, we want the city to embrace a 5th C, Character. We believe that Character, the qualities of honor, kindness, and moral integrity are vital to the growth of all citizens and believe that the city of Anaheim should promote the 5 Cs in all civic engagement.”
Savanna High School Named a P21 National Exemplar School
November 14, 2013--At a conference on teaching 21st century skills to students, the National Partnership for 21st Century Skills recognized Savanna High School as an “exemplar school” for its comprehensive and innovative approaches to teaching and learning.
Savanna High’s includes a four-year “capstone” student project that results in a final year portfolio presentation and panel interview with teachers. This program was set in place for students to demonstrate their career and college readiness. Administrators and teachers set high standards for students and expect them to be critical thinkers, academically and personally accountable citizens, good communicators and collaborators, globally aware, culturally competent, and digital-age learners.
Savanna offers college-going programs, a Seal of Biliteracy for graduates with dual language competency, and six career pathway academies, including a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Academy, Medical Academy, where students graduate as certified nurses’ assistants, Automotive Technology Academy, and World Languages Academy.
Savanna High School illustrates how an exemplary 21st century school can make positive changes, when the right leadership is provided.
AUHSD Students Engage in Civic Education Campaign to Prompt Investment in Facilities
April 30, 2014--AUHSD students launched a civic engagement campaign calling on the Board of Trustees to take action on investing in 21st century learning through better facilities.
Students gathered nearly 5,000 signatures seeking support of repairing AUHSD classrooms and providing more 21st century technology. By collecting petitions and presenting them to the Trustees, students took action in improving their learning environment while engaging in civic engagement. The students presented the signatures to the Board on July 11, when trustees voted to place a $249 million bond measure to upgrade and repair facilities on the November 2014 ballot.
AUHSD joined a number of school districts across the state that are emphasizing the importance of civic education and are being supported in their efforts by the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning. The task force helps define the skills and knowledge that students need to be informed and involved citizens and community members.
First Annual ‘P21: Our Future Now Sustainability Conference: Orange County Students Showcase Solutions for Global Issues
May 24, 2014--Student finalists from 23 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout Orange County highlighted their solutions for global issues affecting local communities or their countries of origin.
The conference was organized by the AUHSD with support from the California Center for 21st Century Education, a chapter of the Partnership for 21st Century Education. The presentations were similar to the popular TED Talks format. The goal of the conference was to help students develop the skills needed for a competitive job market, such as verbal communications, articulating complex topics, advocacy, and by relating issues to their own lives and communities. Students identified a problem and suggested a solution related to the environment, alternative energy, health or sustainable design.
"The global problems facing the next generation of Americans will bring immense challenges as well as tremendous opportunities,” said Anaheim Union High School District Superintendent Mike Matsuda. “It will take innovators and entrepreneurs in the STEAM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) in order to solve sustainability issues, including climate change, healthcare, alternative energy, water conservation, or sustainable food.”
State Superintendent Torlakson Honors Recipients of Student Service Grants From Newly Formed AUHSD Student Service Foundation
October 1, 2014--Superintendent Torlakson was on hand as students received the grants that promote community service and support student learning.
The Board of Directors of the Student Service Foundation selected the recipients of the grants. The board is composed of students from each of the nine AUHSD high schools who have a passion for making a difference in their community, and helping other students pursue their passion for learning and service by providing them with the means to do so.
“I am not aware of any other school district in California where students are leading the charge in this fashion,” said AUHSD Superintendent Michael B. Matsuda. “The ideas for the grants originated in our classrooms, through project-based learning. Upon graduation, these students will have demonstrated, through the implementation of these grants, that they have the capacity to problem-solve and take on the challenges facing the next generation.”
The Student Service Foundation was established with a $25,000 grant from the AUHSD Foundation to promote purposeful civic engagement, community building, and problem solving. Students seeking the grants learned the basics of grant writing, including developing plans, rationales, budgets, timelines, and evaluations. Through these grants, students have shown that they can advocate for causes that are important to them and maintain purposeful civic engagement.
AUHSD Stages First District-Wide “Servathon” On MLK King Holiday
January 19, 2015--More than 4,000 Anaheim Union students participated in the first-ever AUHSD Servathon, which coincided with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday and National Day of Service.
The Servathon is a fundraiser similar to a jogathon, but instead of getting sponsors for laps, participants get sponsors for hours of community service. Participants included students from the District’s 19 junior high and high school campuses. These students, led by some 200 District staff members, performed an astonishing 16,000 hours of community service through more than 150 projects across our five communities.
“As superintendent, I have had many proud moments, but I have never more proud of our students and staff than I was on January 19,” Mr. Matsuda said. “The day certainly brought out the finest in people.”
The service projects ranged from traditional campus or beach cleanups to less customary, such as helping seniors with technology needs or going door-to-door to encourage the use of smoke alarms. Overall, these tasks were designed to give students experiences that would better connect them with neighborhoods, businesses, the elderly, and younger students and increase the District’s culture of civic engagement and community service.
AUHSD’S P21 Corporate Mentoring Program Off to a Strong Start
January 29, 2015--Forty-five AUHSD students networked with Kaiser Permanente professionals who are acting as mentors, providing hands-on experience and career guidance for our students.
Students and adults came together for the first of four mentoring sessions at the Kaiser Permanente facility in Anaheim Hills. The P21 Mentoring Program is a partnership between the District and the city of Anaheim, which began when some 200 students presented more than 5,000 petitions to the Anaheim City Council urging officials to participate in the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Program. It seeks to connect students’ time in class with the real world, in order to prepare students for careers, college, and ultimately, life.
After pairing up, the mentoring teams participated in ice-breaking activities and toured the Kaiser Permanente facility. In three subsequent meetings, students had the opportunity to explore careers in the fields of medicine, nutrition and healthcare IT; shadow professionals on the job; build resumes; and participate in mock interviews. In addition to the Kaiser partnership, students also later engaged with professionals at Bunzl manufacturing for the same type of mentoring experience.
National Education Leaders Visit Savanna High School to Learn About Innovative Approaches to 21st Century Teaching and Learning
February 6, 2015--40 national education and civic leaders visited Savanna High School, a P21 National Exemplar School, due to its innovative approaches to 21st century teaching and learning.
Savanna staff modeled the process used to nurture the instructional shift to P21 lessons and the Common Core. The education leaders, which included state superintendents and school district administrators, visited classrooms to observe the innovative work the school is doing.
Added Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County superintendent of schools, “Our national education leaders are rediscovering what we’ve known for years, that commitment to student engagement, innovation, collaboration and critical thinking are at the core of student learning. I am proud to see that Savanna High School exemplifies these qualities and in 2015 has been recognized as a leader across America. Savanna’s students, teachers, parents and support staff must be commended for their outstanding work, and their call to serves as an exemplar for other schools.”
350 Educators from 22 Districts Attend First P21 Summit
April 24, 2015--The Summit brought together a powerful group of presenters who learned from each other how to best connect student learning to the real world.
Speaking at the Summit were Dr. Al Mijares, Orange County Superintendent of Schools, and Dr. Helen Soule, executive director of the National P21 organization. The keynote address was delivered by AUHSD’s Kelly Gallagher, who is in his 30th year of teaching at Magnolia High School, and is the author of numerous books on adolescent literacy. His address was titled “Building 21st Century Learners: The View From the Classroom.”
AUHSD was front and center at the conference during the breakout sessions, with presentations such as “The Power of Parent Learning Walks: Accountability for 21st Century Learning” and “Integrating Pedagogy into Technology.” Savanna High School as a National P21 Exemplar School, our P21 Corporate Mentoring Program, and the P21 Sustainability Showcase also were on the agenda. The second annual sustainability showcase was held the following day.