Bitney College Prep High to focus on real-world experience with Big Picture Learning | TheUnion.com

Bitney College Prep High to focus on real-world experience with Big Picture Learning

Emily Lavin
Staff Writer

Beginning next fall, Bitney College Prep High School will be placing an increased focus on creating experiential and community-based learning opportunities for students.

The charter high school, located at 135 Joerschke Drive in Grass Valley, will begin implementing Big Picture Learning in the 2016-2017 school year, a learning model that emphasizes personalized learning and hands-on internship experience.

The school will be hosting a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bitney where school officials will present more information on the learning model; the community is encouraged to attend to ask questions and provide input.

Big Picture Learning was established in 1995; today, there are over 65 schools across the country that are part of the Big Picture Learning network. The goal of the model is to allow students to take more control over their education by creating individualized learning plans with significant time spent in the community learning under a mentor.

“It’s a big departure from the typical seven-period day, five days a week where we are in control of curriculum and we decide when and how students get access to discrete bodies of knowledge.”Russ JonesBitney College Prep High School director

“It’s a big departure from the typical seven-period day, five days a week where we are in control of curriculum and we decide when and how students get access to discrete bodies of knowledge,” said Russ Jones, the director at Bitney.

The central tenets of Big Picture Learning are a match with Bitney’s central philosophy, Jones said. The school already places an emphasis on building real-world experiences into its programs, offering electives like sustainable design, video production and computer programming. The school also champions student-led community service projects, and launched an internship program designed to help students pursue career interests.

Bitney’s mission, he said, is really to work with students individually to help prepare them for life after high school — whether that leads to a four-year university, community college, vocational school or apprenticeship.

“As long as there’s drive and passion and interest that’s driving the kid forward, we’re good with that,” Jones said. “We want them to be successful in life.”

Adopting the Big Picture Learning model will enable the school to dive deeper into its mission, Jones said, in part by offering students daily advisory time to help them individualize their educational plans and expanding the school’s internship program as a core element of its curriculum.

The goal of the community meeting, Jones said, is for the school to be as “transparent” as possible about the direction it’s headed, and to share that information with anyone who’s interested.

The philosophy under the Big Picture Learning model is that “we create a school environment where students are empowered to follow their passions and interests,” Jones said. “That encouragement and support will lead them where we ultimately want them to go.”

To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email elavin@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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