Designing a Program for Extended Learning Opportunities

The Students at the Center Hub - a fabulous resource for educators, students, and families to learn about student-centered learning – has just posted our new video, "Designing and Implementing a Student-Centered ELO Program."

The video features the thriving new Extended Learning Opportunities program at Providence-based Highlander Charter School. ELOs are opportunities for students to engage in anytime, anyplace learning such as internships, job shadows, mentor partnerships, and off-site classes.

At Highlander, the ELO experience is scaffolded, with freshmen taking a career class to explore their interests; sophomores doing an on-site ELO (such as the Culinary ELO featured in the video); and juniors doing an off-site ELO (such as the DJ and music production experience we follow). The experiences are grounded in an academic component involving a class and blogging requirements.

"Students are learning a lot in their ELO projects," says Highlander Director of Multiple Pathways Simona Simpson-Thomas. They’re learning beyond just the academics.  They are also learning professionalism. They are learning creativity. They are learning how to think outside the box." The video was funded by Nellie Mae Education Foundation , a major force in student-centered education.

"It taught me how to work with different groups of people I’ve never met," says sophomore Fanta Diakite.  "So when I go into a new job setting, I’m not nervous on working with new people. I’m more comfortable."  Junior Pedro Rodriguez adds: "I learned  that I’m more of a hands-on person. I’d rather learn from like doing it myself rather than somebody just telling me how to do it.  Knowing that will make stuff in my future easier."

Extended Learning Opportunities at PMHS


I just got home from the premiere of Students at the Center: Extended Learning Opportunities at Pittsfield Middle High School - our second mini-documentary set at this rural New Hampshire School. PMHS is putting students at the center of their own learning. Students engage in a variety of Extended Learning Opportunities that enable them to find and explore their own passions outside of the classroom. 

The screening was attended by parents, students, teachers, and local and state school officials. Pittsfield is a leader in New Hampshire - which is in turn a leader nationwide in competency-based assessment.  ELOs are an important piece of this new concept, in which students' attainment of specific learning goals is the standard measuring progress, rather than the traditional model of time spent sitting in school seats.

You can see the video here: