June 13, 2011

Findings from Phase 2 (Part 2)

One of the pleasant and unexpected surprises that emerged from Phase 2 of our BVS3D project came from our special education case study site, Halcyon Middle-High School. This school serves a few dozen students in a warm and measurably effective day treatment program, supported by a highly trained and extremely dedicated staff. Halcyon Middle-High School is a unique educational and therapeutic program for BVSD students’ grades 6-12.  (HMHS is supported through a multi-agency agreement among the Boulder Valley School District, the Mental Health Center serving Boulder and Broomfield Counties and Boulder County’s Department of Housing and Human Services.)
According to Matt Dudek, the principal of Halcyon, the focus of this highly successful day treatment program is to “provide quality education to students as well as provide therapeutic behavioral interventions and strategies to students and their families.” He adds:  “While at HMHS, students and their families address barriers to success and develop and implement strategies which ultimately allow students to be successful at home, at school and in their community.”

Unlike our other case study schools, this school used entirely different metrics for evaluating the benefits of 3D in instruction. The key goal for this school was to provide access to learning in an environment where access, student focus, and sustained learning opportunities could at times be difficult to sustain. Therefore, this school’s approach was more behavioral in nature. Due to their unique instructional challenges, this school was hoping to see how 3D instruction would affect:

  • attendance
  • the ability to focus on learning
  • time on task
  • reduced behavioral incidents
  • engagement

During Phase 2 of the case study, an energized Halcyon teacher, Greg All, taught more than six "3D lessons" focusing on the reproductive, digestive, and circulatory systems. 3D content was primarily used to introduce new content or review previously taught content. The results, still informal in nature, exceeded expectations. In the words of the project’s lead teacher:

- 3D kept kids on the edge of their seats
-  In this school’s unique environment, it worked REALLY WELL
-  We have seen very good behavior management results
-  Students were well focused, not distracted as usual
-  There is no way anything works like this for behavior—enabling these students to learn for an entire 40 minute class without any behavior call outs.

Students also weighed in with comments:

-  “Love it“
-  “This is cool“
-  “Awesome“
-  “I Love it“
-  “This is not as good as ‘Avatar,’ though!”

So what's the upshot? Each time it was used, 3D instruction provided students and teachers in this challenging educational environment with 40 minutes of uninterrupted quality science instruction. Access to curriculum. Total focus. No behavioral incidents. That's significant.

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