School District 197 Superintendent Blog
Welcome to my blog! The purpose of the blog is to provide an avenue for communication with parents and community members. I will be sharing our progress in implementing the District Strategic Framework. Periodically I will also post photos and share news of special events that I attend in our schools.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Personalized Learning

In our Strategic Framework, we have six goals we've set for our district.  Each is designed to enable us to better meet the needs of our students.  One goal, however, has been on hold for a few years, knowing that certain things needed to be done first to lay the foundation for success.  I am pleased to say that the time has finally come for us to zero in on Goal C: Personalized Learning.  Done well, personalized learning holds the potential to transform the school experience from one in which some students are successful, to one where all students are successful when given the time, support, and resources that are tailored to their needs and interests.

Personalized learning is about focusing on students' needs and interests in a flexible, student-centered way. Competency-based progression is possible through the use of a variety of tools.  We think personalized learning should also include ample opportunity for project and problem-based learning. While there still is a common core curriculum that includes academic standards and learning targets that all students are expected to master, in a classroom where personalized learning is the drive wheel for student success, students have choice.  They have increased levels of responsibility for their learning, which builds their ability to become-self directed and independent learners.

The role of the teacher changes too. Instead of being the center of the classroom, they become the facilitator of learning.  This blog post explains how we can engage students through personalizing learning, moving them from simply being compliant in school to being in the flow of their learning. Think of your own school experience.  I would venture to guess you can name the times when you felt you were simply meeting the requirements for seat time, compared to those times when you were fully in the zone.  What do you want for your students?

While many students are successful in school, at present, too many students in our school district, our state, and our nation are failing.  Too many students are not fully engaged in school.  They don't see its relevance, and they don't always take responsibility for their learning in the way we'd really like to see.  We don't have a kid problem; we have a design problem.  If we want all students to be successful, then we need to change the way we do our business in schools.  We think personalized learning holds the key.

Personalized will require a new instructional model, one in which the role of the student and the teacher, will be transformed.  A recent article in the Star Tribune, written by two superintendents and a former commissioner of education in Minnesota, makes a strong case for changing how we deliver an education to 21st century students. I find their vision inspiring.  It leads me to ask, what might a redesign for learning look like in District 197?

We'd like you to help answer that question.  On April 7th, we will be holding the third and final community wide meeting to guide our work on our Strategic Framework.  This meeting will focus solely on the potential for personalized learning to take our educational program to the next level.  As we have done before, we will have both large and small group discussions.  The key questions will be as follows:
  • Why personalize learning?
  • How does personalized learning fit into our Strategic Implementation Plan?
  • What does personalized learning look like at the elementary, middle, or high school level?
  • How will personalized learning help us attain each of our strategic goals? 
All parents, staff, members of the community, and even students, are invited to attend.  The discussion runs from 4:30 - 7:30 p.m. in Warrior Hall at Henry Sibley High School.  We will serve a light supper, and child care will also be provided, as will translation.  To help us plan in advance, we ask that you register at this link.  If you have already registered for the April 7th discussion, you need not register again.

I hope you will join us.  This is your chance to help shape our future.


Nancy Allen-Mastro

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