History of ELOs
The idea of Extended Learning Opportunities emerged from community concerns in the mid 1990s. At that time, learning was measured by the Carnegie Unit - the amount of time students spent in class. Businesses and colleges were not satisfied with this time-referenced system; they were more interested in what students learned and could apply to expectations beyond high school.
Faced with high drop-out rates, low achievement, and poor student aspirations, the New Hampshire Board of Education has worked to redesign high schools. They designed the unit of learning to be competency-driven, created flexibility regarding the time, space, and methods of high school learning, and included alternate pathways for students to demonstrate achievement. Although Lebanon High School has a drop-out rate of less than 1%, we recognize the importance of using ELOs to meet all students’ needs.
Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) provide multiple ways for students to learn outside of the classroom and achieve credit toward high school graduation. These personalized learning opportunities are founded on student interest and need, are planned in advance, and include rigorous content. They offer authentic opportunities for students to collaborate with a Highly Qualified teacher and/or a community partner to demonstrate competencies outside of a traditional classroom.
ELOs may take many forms, including independent study, private instruction, performing groups, internships, community service, apprenticeships; and online courses. Extended Learning Opportunities are rigorous and may include four components: research, product, presentation, and reflection. Assessment is based on achievement of high school competencies and goals. Through Extended Learning Opportunities, students earn high school credit toward graduation.
ELOs align with state and national standards, local curriculum frameworks, and course competencies to ensure academic content. In some cases, ELOs may go beyond the local curriculum to provide additional academic options, depending on individual student interests. To be successful, students will demonstrate critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving according to predetermined rigorous standards.
When a student engages in an ELO, he/she also develops important life skills such as time management, collaboration, effective communication, and technological literacy. Regular monitoring and assessment will accompany a student’s journey.
All students benefit from rigorous learning opportunities, and ELOs are designed for the full range of learners. Each ELO is customized to respond to students’ needs.
ELOs capitalize on student motivation and engagement. They are designed to address the learning styles, strengths, interests, and needs of each individual student. They are real-world experiences that not only demand rigorous academic achievement, but also build skills that promote students’ personal development in an area of interest. ELOs may give a student an option to explore a career choice in a wide variety of settings.
ELOs can be designed for individuals or small groups, and may be a way of gaining credit for activities in which a student is already engaged. After formalizing a contract to meet ELO standards and expectations, students pursue learning opportunities that are meaningful to them.
ELOs involve the whole community. Students receive guidance and support from the ELO teacher who will help design the learning experience and monitor its progress. Students will be paired with a certified teacher who is an expert in the area of study. The teacher will help develop a learning plan and tehn assess learning. When appropriate, the student will also be mentored by a community partner who will provide the real-world connection so important to student achievement. Parents will be included from the outset and provide needed support and encouragement. ELOs will frequently end with a panel presentation to include all stakeholders.
ELOs are NOT:
Intended to be an easy way for students to achieve credit.
To remove a student from a classroom.
Intended to replace local teachers.
Based on amount of time spent on task.
Always between the opening and closing school bells.
About rigorous academic standards based on standards and competencies.
An extension of the classroom.
A way for teachers to individualize instruction and share their passions.
About demonstrating growth and achievement.
An expansion beyond the school building and into the community.
Before, during, and after school, on weekends, during vacations, and during the summer.
Extended Learning Opportunities are a powerful addition to traditional schooling. They provide authentic opportunities for students to follow their interests, expand the curriculum to the real world, and work individually with a teacher and expert. ELOs offer numerous benefits to students as they develop self-confidence and independence.
Extended Learning Opportunities will improve our school’s capacity to implement and assess competency-driven learning, providing a vehicle to meet New Hampshire redesign mandates. ELOs will bolster community connections, and the outcomes will be rewarding for all. Extended Learning Opportunities promote student engagement, provide rigor, and offer authentic experiences for all types of students. We welcome your involvement.