Leadership magazine May/June 2015 V 44 No 5 - Page 26

A MODEL FOR Linked Learning Work-based learning experiences can help engage students and create relevance in the classroom. O ver the past 20 years, there has been ample educational research supporting the effectiveness of small learning communities on student engagement and learning. One of the more structured forms is the “career-themed academy” model promoted by the National Academy Foundation and others. In these models, engagement occurs not only by creating relevance through a “content in context” approach to cross-curricular projectbased activities, but also through the work-based learning experiences concomitant with the theme of the academy. The state support for this is evidenced in California Assembly Bill 790, which outlined four elements of a linked learning model: 1. A rigorous, “a-g” compliant core curriculum; 2. An integrated sequence of technical courses related to a career; 3. A series of workbased learning opportunities; and 4. Support services to assist all students in achieving success in the program. Of these, the one that presents the greatest challenge to classroom educators is the integration of the work-based experiences. Very frequently, educators come to the classroom without much exposure to work outside of education. Their own work experiences consist primarily of part-time jobs that helped support them while completing their undergraduate work and subsequent preparation for a career in education. They are often at a loss as to what the business world is like or how to approach it. By Gabe Soumakian, Jim Rose and Mary Anne Rooney 26 Leadership