Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards 
a new book from Envision's co-founder Bob Lenz, with Justin Wells and Sally Kingston

Many years and classrooms in the making, this book shares the how, why, what, and who of transforming a school so that students reap real rewards, in the form of successful preparation for college,
career, and life.


Envision contributes to EdWeek's Learning Deeply blog

Envision Teacher Dave Carter on Deeper Learning strategies he uses in his math classroom.

Envision Teacher Natalia Sanchez-Gonzalez's powerful articulation of equity-centered deeper learning. 


Bob Lenz on real 

College and Career Readiness


Click the image below for
more info and to register!


February 2015
In the Spotlight: ELP's work with the Community School for Creative Education
More ELP/CSCE Resources: Additional ways to learn about the CSCE and ELP partnership
Recommended Reading: Bob Lenz' new book, plus wonderful posts from Envision teachers
Partnering for Success: Ways to get involved with ELP and Envision Education
The Community School for Creative Education 

Just over three years ago, Envision Learning Partners began an ongoing partnership with the Alameda County Office of Education to facilitate the Bay Area Performance Assessment Network (BAPAN), an initiative funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. BAPAN focuses on supporting Bay Area schools and teachers to create quality performance assessments and a student defense process, two elements that are central to the design of Envision's three Bay Area high schools.  (Click the link to read more about Defense at Envision Schools.)


Last year the Community School for Creative Education -- a diverse Waldorf inspired urban TK-6 school located in Oakland, California -- was one of the BAPAN schools.


In March 2014 CSCE was selected to receive additional grant funding from the Hewlett Foundation, giving them an additional 20 targeted PD days with two intended outcomes 1) Teacher-created quality performance assessments and 2) the delivery of 5th grade Defenses, anchored to a specific class project, and supported by a strong learning culture.  To achieve these outcomes, ELP provided CSCE with: 

  • Direct coaching to design and develop new performance assessments for science and social studies.  Using the ELP Performance Assessment planning template as an anchor, each teacher crafted quality learning targets and matching assessments, essential questions, and meaningful and engaging prompts. Teachers reported paying sharpened attention to the intended outcomes: what was it that they really wanted students to know and be able to do and how could this be effectively and efficiently demonstrated by each student?

    With this focus, teachers could then intentionally plan assessment(s) that accurately measured these outcomes, as well as meaningful learning experiences that supported students in acquiring the intended knowledge and skills.  The result: CSCE time became more efficient and focused, with teachers able to assess if the lesson was effectively delivering the intended learning and to make revisions if not.
  • Support to implement 5th grade defenses: These defenses were based on the format and expectations of our Envision High School 10th and 12th grade defenses.  To support teachers in building an understanding of the process, each attended a Defense Design Studio at an Envision school in San Francisco, Oakland or Hayward. They witnessed students defending their learning and engaged in professional development around the logistics and planning of Envision's 4-year process.

    CSCE adapted the rubrics, agendas and format of Envision's high school defense model so that it could be used with their 5th graders.  Students focused on their reading, writing, and math skills, describing their strengths and next steps to a panel of three: a community member, staff from Envision Education, and an Envision High school student. The high school student, in particular, provided both powerful feedback and an incredible role model for the young presenters.

    Following the 5th grade defenses, teachers reported how much more deeply aware they were of the learning process, and compared what they thought they had taught with what they had actually taught and what students had learned. The discrepancies would later prompt teachers to revise their teaching and refine their instructional focus.


The most important question, of course, for CSCE and ELP, was this: how did this partnership impact students?  After giving their defenses, students noticed the increased rigor and the increased relevance of their learning; they reflected on how they were at first frightened by the idea of presenting what they had learned, especially to a panel of strangers, but that it was an unforgettable experience, and one that they want to have again.   


In short, it was a strong, powerful learning experience that is helping to create life-long learners of these students.  The CSCE/ELP partnership raised the bar on teaching and learning not only for CSCE teachers, but for their students as well.



You can learn more about the work and impact of the partnership between the Community School for Creative Education and Envision Learning Partners with these additional resources:

Read the Case Study!  Available on CSCE's website, this report describes the project and features voices from many CSCE teachers, discussing the difference ELP made in their classrooms.

Watch the 5th grade defenses!  Here are three links to CSCE 5th graders, presenting their defenses and reflecting on how they learn.  Use the passcode CSCE2014 to access these videos.

Lastly, learn more about this wonderful Oakland school at their website.

CSCE teachers enjoyed participating in one of Envision's Defense Design Studios -- you can too by registering for the 2015 Defense Design Studios!  Come spend the day at an Envision School, where you will:
  • Learn what it means to participate in Performance Assessment at Envision.
  • Observe an entire student Defense.
  • Process what you saw and connect it back to your own learning or educational context.
This year, our Design Studio dates are as follows:
  • City Arts & Tech High School, San Francisco: Thursday, May 14, 2015
  • Impact Academy of Arts & Technology, Hayward: Friday, May 15, 2015
  • Envision Academy of Arts & Technology, Oakland: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Get more info and register here.  Spaces fill up fast and we offer an early bird discount: we encourage interested folks to act quickly! 

Questions about the Defense Design Studios?  Just email Rachel Maida, our Program Manager, and she can assist you. 

INSPIRE: Capture and share student and teacher success!   Email your stories, photos and videos and we will share them in a future newsletter.  Email Rachel Maida, Program Manager.

INFORM: Learn more about Envision Learning Partners (ELP), our partnership opportunities and our events.  Contact Rachel Maida, Program Manager.

INVOLVE: Join us!  Visit the Envision Education Career Center for opportunities to join our teams. Currently, Envision Schools has an opening for a principal at City Arts & Technology High School in San Francisco.  Spread the word!

INFLUENCE: Spread the word about ELP.  Forward this newsletter to your colleagues and friends, and encourage them to subscribe to Reflections.

INVEST: Support Envision Education! Invest in our programs to make a difference in the lives of American students. Contact Kate Schwass, Development Director to learn more.