Last week, I and several other colleagues were able to observe many authentic, engaging projects at the Experiential Site Visit in Long Beach Unified. One such project included a team of seniors in the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing, Construction, and Engineering at Jordan High School. To assist the City of Long Beach in its needs to measure pedestrian traffic in the northwest quarter of the city, these seniors are designing a device integrating infrared sensors, an electronic controller, and wireless communication. It will be installed above crosswalks to gather data on numbers of people crossing streets by time of day, bringing a measurable benefit to the city—all designed by students participating in the district’s notable Linked Learning pathways.
In partnership with ConnectED, the district hosted more than fifty members of district teams attending from Kansas City, KS, North Kansas City, MO, Portland, OR, and Rockford, IL. Team members were able to distribute themselves among school site visits to Browning High, Cabrillo High, Jordan High, and Wilson High. Additionally, each team had the opportunity to learn from the Long Beach district leadership team about Long Beach’s twelve-year journey with Linked Learning and engage in a series of follow-up sessions devoted to identifying the district conditions essential to implementing Linked Learning effectively, learning about the behaviors of learning and teaching that Linked Learning nurtures, and defining next steps for planning and implementation upon returning home.
The continued willingness of Long Beach to share with others, within California and beyond, what they have learned over the past decade about effectively implementing Linked Learning is extraordinary. This is equally true of other districts—e.g., Los Angeles, Oakland, Porterville, Sacramento, and San Diego—pioneering Linked Learning. These districts not only teach newcomers about the Linked Learning approach but also gain valuable insights from visitors’ feedback.
I accompanied site visit members spending the morning at Jordan High School. It has been at least five years since I last was there. The improvement is so impressive—new facilities and incredible upgrades in equipment (thank you California Career and Technical Education Incentive Grants!). Most gratifying was the strong instructional leadership we saw in the CTE clusters that are essential components of each pathway. Visitors to the other campuses were equally impressed by the applied instruction they observed in core academic classes that were part of each Linked Learning pathway.
Designing, implementing, sustaining, and continuously improving Linked Learning pathways is hard work. But research shows that it produces significant impacts on student outcomes. Kudos to Long Beach and every other district committed to staying the course!