The Ford pas curriculum

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The Ford PAS Curriculum

How can high school prepare students to thrive in their next big challenges: post-secondary education and the workplace? How can students learn critical academic knowledge—and how to apply this knowledge in complex, real-world situations?

Examples of the kinds of questions that students tackle in the Ford PAS curriculum:

  • How do people achieve prized goals, from buying a keyboard to getting a college degree—and how can I make financial decisions to reach my own goals?

  • What recommendations shall we make about nuclear power to help our country provide energy for its citizens along with energy independence and sustainability?

  • How can our company use its time, materials, and people to thrive—economically, socially, and environmentally?
ord PAS is an academically rigorous, standards-based curriculum that challenges students to integrate academic learning with realistic applications in areas such as design and product development, information systems, environmental sustainability, global economics, business planning, marketing, and personal finance.

Through case study analysis and role plays, simulations and scientific experiments, research, negotiation, and collaboration, students gain both knowledge and interdisciplinary skills for learning, analyzing, and decision-making in complex situations—and in the process, learn to apply classroom learning to choices in the real world. Innovative partnerships connect local high schools with colleges and universities, businesses, and workforce development and community organizations to provide real-world learning opportunities.

Ford PAS Learning and Teaching Pillars

The more than 20 modules of the Ford PAS curriculum use a hands-on, collaborative, project- and inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning. Modules pose questions for students to explore; students acquire knowledge and skills as they work collaboratively to investigate those questions, carry out long-term projects, and create end products to demonstrate their learning. The Learning and Teaching Pillars detail the curriculum’s research-based principles.1 Teachers learn to integrate the pillars into their practice through use of the curriculum and on-going participation in Ford PAS professional development opportunities.

Learning Pillars

The Ford PAS Learning Pillars represent the essential academic and career-related knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in college and a wide range of careers. They include the essential skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which brings together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a powerful vision for 21st century education. These skills complement and strengthen the knowledge and skills defined in national academic standards. Young people who acquire these skills are equipped to be lifelong learners in a rapidly changing, diverse, information-rich, and technology-driven world. The Ford PAS curriculum explicitly teaches students these skills and enables students to apply them in a variety of contexts.

  • Application of academic knowledge and skills: Students both acquire essential academic knowledge and skills and develop flexibility in drawing on appropriate disciplinary knowledge and skills to address real-world challenges.

  • Problem-solving: Students work with open-ended problems and issues that require them to clarify and analyze situations, explore solutions, and evaluate results.

  • Critical thinking: Students analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information. They learn how to make reasoned judgments based on observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, and discussion.

  • Teamwork: Students work in teams to conduct investigations, synthesize data, and communicate results. They learn to give and receive feedback, negotiate agreements, facilitate meetings, and take on a variety of leadership roles. Students also work independently and are assessed for the individual contributions they make to team products.

  • Communication: Students learn strategies for evaluating complex oral, written, and multimedia communications, and create oral, written, and multimedia material for a wide variety of purposes and audiences.

  • Creativity and innovation: Students learn to think creatively in response to a wide variety of challenges. They invent, try out, and revise designs and solutions, and are encouraged to take risks, learn from failures as well as successes, and value diverse perspectives.

  • Global awareness: Students tackle issues that cross borders, and consider the perspectives of people and communities around the world. They explore potential solutions tailored to particular cultures, and learn to work and communicate effectively with others who have diverse views.

Teaching Pillars

The Ford PAS Teaching Pillars represent the ways that the Ford PAS curriculum structures and guides students’ learning of essential knowledge and skills and helps teachers to facilitate learning experiences that embody the Learning Pillars. A feature of the Ford PAS Learning Pillars is that students must engage in them in order to learn them. Students also need contexts in which challenges and problems are structured to enable them to build on their existing knowledge and skills as they expand and deepen both. The Ford PAS Teaching Pillars provide contexts that scaffold and structure students’ learning opportunities. These strategies, tools, and contexts constitute a 21st century pedagogy that helps teachers to facilitate student success.

  • Academically rigorous: Teachers facilitate learning of essential academic knowledge, skills, and ways of thinking particular to the core academic disciplines, meeting state and national academic standards and college-readiness expectations.

  • Integration of academic and career-related knowledge and skills: Teachers help students to develop career-related knowledge and skills in the context of academic courses and also to learn and apply academic knowledge and skills in the context of career-related courses.

  • Inquiry-based: Teachers organize learning around investigation of significant issues and problems. They structure these investigations, often through hands-on learning experiences, so that students acquire knowledge, skills, and understanding.

  • Project-based: Teachers guide students in carrying out in-depth, long-term projects which culminate in products or presentations of students’ investigations and results.

  • Real-world: Teachers use real-world situations—such as business and engineering challenges—to build academic knowledge and develop problem-solving, teamwork, and communication skills. Students have opportunities to interact with professionals in careers of interest to them, and venture into businesses, college campuses, and the community as part of their learning.

  • Performance-based: As students apply the knowledge, skills, and understandings they acquire through the curriculum’s learning experiences, teachers use a variety of tools to assess students’ progress toward meeting learning goals correlated with academic and (where appropriate) career technical education (CTE) standards.

  • Technology-rich: Teachers engage students in using technology to conduct research, organize and analyze data, simulate complex systems, and communicate ideas. Students master a variety of technology tools and make good choices about their use.

  • Career-relevant: Teachers and school staff structure learning so students understand a broad range of career paths, become aware of the knowledge and skills required to succeed in a variety of careers, and know what education and training are required for entry-level and more advanced positions.

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