West Side Collaborative - Winner of the Rohatyn Prize!

posted Jun 16, 2011, 1:57 PM by Suzannah Ohring   [ updated Jul 13, 2011, 7:49 PM ]

West Side Collaborative was selected as the winner of the the first annual Elizabeth Rohatyn Prize for School Innovation The $15,000 prize was presented to Ms. Rotunda by Elizabeth Rohatyn at Teaching Matters Fourth Annual Summer Forum for Principals.  The award will enable Ms. Rotunda to build teacher effectiveness through the expansion of the school's online communication system.  West Side Collaborative's online collaborative community fosters the staff's ability to differentiate instruction for students, share resources and lessons and strategically use assessments.

WSC believes schools need to be creative and active learning environments that nurture students' capacity to shape ideas rather than merely receive them. The way the school groups their learners (both students and adults), uses time, configures personnel, uses physical and virtual space, and determines what's worth studying follows a growth model that encourages bold action on new initiatives.  Students at WSC are empowered to be self-directed learners in the spirit of an artist apprentice who pursues learning a craft and developing a project with the guidance of a person more familiar with that art form. The school's aspirations for their students is that when they engage in activities, students experience "flow," being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.

In-person and virtual communication structures are at the foundation of WSC's community and provide the flexibility to organize student groups informed by student needs, to customize student and staff schedules, to vary teacher roles, and to purposefully design all learning experiences around the needs of learners.  WSC students create their own learning goals and with support from a teacher, select strategies to try to master their goals.  Students use Google docs to manage their work, communicate with staff, build project web pages, and build and design online portfolio sites.  They collaborate with peers using Google doc spreadsheets.  This spring, a pilot group of students participated in WSC's Saturday Digital Academy, using TED Talks as a motivation and model.

WSC intends to use this award to continue to build on these practices and to develop many other new and exciting opportunities for its students.  Congratulations to Ms. Rotunda and the entire West Side Collaborative staff!