Natick Employs Thrively and MAPLE dCurate Program to Support Student Growth

Thrively and the MAPLE dCurate Program will help the Natick Public Schools Measure Growth Over Time in Student’s Habits of Mind and Profile of a Natick Graduate Skills

By Grace Magley and Jed Stefanowicz

The Natick Public Schools will be piloting the Thrively platform at the middle school level for all students in grades 5-8 beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The Thrively platform combines blended and project based learning instructional practices, with social emotional learning processes, all of which are what Natick educators use to personalize student learning. 

Personalizing student learning begins with engaging students through authentic work to develop their own agency to learn.  The Thrively platform allows students to measure their strengths, interests and their Habits of Mind competencies to develop self awareness, find purpose, build skills and create impact.  This, in combination with Natick’s efforts to develop the whole learner via our Profile of a Natick Graduate work, complements our next phase of Personalized Learning where we will measure growth in the skills that we say we value as a community.  The Natick Profile of a Graduate Skills are illustrated in this graphic: 

This summer, eighteen Natick educators and specialists were trained and worked to develop unique playlists, projects, and learning experiences using the Thrively platform for middle school students during the upcoming school year. The pilot team of educators will serve as trainers for their colleagues, following a team-designed action plan to examine, scale, and rollout Thrively’s features and capabilities. The team examined which of Thrively’s tools, features, and digital content best align with Natick’s Profile of a Graduate competencies and skills to “help students build a vision for their future based on their strengths, interests and aspirations.” 

A goal was established for all middle school students to create and reflect on a personal goal informed by their Thrively Strength and Habits of Mind assessments, and related to one or more Profile of a Graduate competencies. Teams worked to design a deployment calendar across trimesters to schedule and reflect on the initial assessments, complete personalized projects and playlists, and showcase learning and progress through authentic presentation opportunities.

In addition to engaging in design challenges and individual/group learning projects, grade 5-8 students will compile understanding in Thrively’s digital portfolio.  This process is student-centered and self directed, designed to curate original artifacts, self-monitor progress, and document growth that showcases project-based and interest-based learning.  Students capture audio, video, and written journal entries to regularly reflect and track their journey. These individualized and long reaching learning experiences are designed with the goal of providing all students meaningful pathways to find purpose, build skills, and create impact.

In our constant effort to support the development of the whole child, this team sees Thrively’s personalized assessments, the creation (and tracking) of individual goals and projects, regular meaningful reflection, and personalized pathway recommendations as powerful tools to empower innovative and self-aware citizens.

The MAPLE / LearnLaunch dCURATE Program provides Massachusetts districts a process for identifying and procuring evidence-based digital instructional products for their schools. The program supports gathering and analysis of product utilization and student learning data.  Through this program, Natick’s Office of Digital Learning will work with researchers and analytic tools to determine what we can learn from the data about students growth in skills over time. We hope that by educators and students using the Thrively platform, students will set goals, track accomplishments, and document their process with artifacts in Thrively’s digital portfolio. As Thrively captures student’s exploration and discovery, we hope to gain a better understanding over time of how students develop skills based on their strengths and interests.

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