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Personalized Learning in Evergreen Public Schools

At Evergreen Public Schools we believe that true learning is a dynamic and creative process, where learners are supported to make meaning for themselves through engaging experiences that involve exploration and reflection.  We are committed to facilitating high levels of teaching and learning that exceed standards and center on the unique needs of the students and adults in our community. Our educational plan is based on high expectations and consistent standards of excellence.  It is designed to build a foundation in academic subjects and digital literacies through the implementation of rigorous, accessible, and engaging experiences.

Teaching and Learning for Personalization

Why Personalize?

Our world is rapidly changing as a result of access to information and innovation. What we have learned about brain theory and pedagogy drive us to reevaluate what we can offer our students in preparation.  Ultimately we want our students to become strategic, collaborative learning partners, who are innovative and competitive in a global community.  Therefore we strive to create an environment in which students are at the center of their own learning and are intimately involved in defining the learning path.  A place where:

  • students are empowered to develop a growth mindset, cultivate habits of work, and engage in rich reflective practice.
  • students are offered multiple pathways to achieve personal and academic goals.
  • students are afforded flexibility of time, space and resources to explore learning at a deeper level.
  • teachers facilitate informed decision-making and advocacy for self and others.  
  • teachers challenge students to take risks, unleash their curiosity, and exercise their critical and creative minds.  
  • assessment is learning and students are assessed on evidence of mastery of learning targets.
  • cultural and community connections are leveraged to engage learners in authentic experiences that have personal meaning and community impact.

It is this type of Personalized Learning environment that students deserve to experience in Evergreen Public Schools.

How We Define Personalized Learning

Personalized learning, as defined by the International Association for K12 Online Learning (iNACOL), is “tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs, and interests - including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn - to provide flexibility and support to ensure mastery of the highest standards possible.”

For Evergreen, as we transform to a more personalized environment, the following elements will become essential ways of doing business:

  • Student Agency
  • Access to Learning
  • Four Cs - Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity
  • Measures of Individual Proficiency
  • Flexible Learning Environments
  • Personal Learning Profiles
  • Community and Cultural Resources

 

Learning in a Personalized Environment

A personalized learning environment is centered on the unique interests and needs of the learners. While there is a critical focus on literacy in core academic subjects - reading, mathematics, writing, science, arts, and social sciences - personalized learning in Evergreen is built on a strong foundation of student strategies. These strategies support the essential elements of personalized learning when implemented across content areas, and grade levels, to support application of knowledge in real-world situations.

Measures of Individual Proficiency - Assessment is approached as learning or as a support for learning. A variety of assessment strategies are used to monitor and evaluate understanding of standards-based content knowledge and skills, foster self-monitoring, and facilitate reflection to promote student autonomy.

Communication and Collaboration - Students learn and continually increase their ability to engage in reading, writing, listening, and speaking using academic language. Students communicate and collaborate for a variety of purposes, in multiple formats and various settings, both independently and as a valuable member of a team. Students learn to engage in inquiry, articulate and support both opinions and ideas.

Critical Thinking and Creativity - Students use disciplined processes to apply knowledge and skills in innovative and practical ways, addressing authentic, real-world problems. They construct and communicate new understanding by seeking out and evaluating information from a variety of sources, experiences and perspectives, to generate unique ideas and solutions.

Flexible Learning Environments -  Students contribute their voice and choice in creating or using physical and virtual learning environments that allow for effective use of time, pace, space, and place. A variety of resources, structures, and strategies are used purposefully to activate and sustain learning.

Personal Learning Profiles - Students and others work collaboratively to identify, articulate and monitor their own skills, interests, life experiences, aspirations, needs, areas of growth, and goals. PLPs are used to guide learning paths and experiences. Reflection on learning and progress toward personal and academic goals drives the planning for next steps.

Access to Learning - A range of technologies and strategies are used intentionally to remove barriers to learning, enhance experiences, and help students realize their potential.

Community and Cultural Resources  -  Students engage with their communities through learning partnerships, both inside and outside of school, to establish meaningful interactions, address challenges, extend experiences, and connect learning to life. Students contribute their voice to creating a culture of safety and thoughtful risk-taking that values and acknowledges the diversity of the communities with which they interact.

Student Agency - Student voice and choice is supported by opportunities to learn and continually increase their ability to independently engage in the design and direction of their learning. Students connect interests, needs, and cultures to what they are learning; set goals for their individual learning and reflect on their own progress.

Teaching in a Personalized Environment

Teachers play an essential role in supporting personalized learning. There are many roles to fill and the teacher is a unique player in the transformation to a personalized learning environment.

  • As a content specialist, the teacher ensures students are able to identify the standards and addressing each at sufficiently deep level, challenging them to explore at greater depths when interests evolve.  
  • As a collaborator, the teacher works with colleagues and students to design authentic tasks that allow students choice as they apply technologies to demonstrate literacies and transferable skills as they communicate mastery of content.
  • As a facilitator, the teacher asks questions and models a growth mindset to help students become reflective practitioners.
  • As an evaluator, the teacher teaches students on formative assessment, data and evidence, as a means to empower students to make informed decisions.
  • As an encourager, the teacher guides students to their edge, gives them permission to take chances, and allows students to follow their passions.
  • As a manager, the teacher helps students monitor their own Personalized Learning Profile and document evidence of mastery in a portfolio.
  • As a conduit to learning, the teacher helps students make connections to resources and maintain relationships with peers and community members.
  • As an advocate, the teacher ensures the student has the resources he or she needs to access learning that is personal to them.

Support Structures

Beginning in the 2015-2018 school years, we will be working to redefine teaching and learning in Evergreen to create a culture and environment of personalization where teachers and students combine the power of technology and innovative learning practices to drive continuous improvement.  This requires change at all levels of the organization.

The school district is committed to providing structures that support a transformation to a Personalized Learning Environment.  To do this we will:

  • build on current/existing best practices
  • leverage expertise of EPS teachers to model strategies and shape best practice documentation
  • facilitate curriculum review, revision and development
  • provide job embedded professional development that is aligned to personal professional goals that includes:
    • modeling and coaching in the classroom where it is seamlessly implemented
    • personalized and targeted professional learning that reflects teacher’s developmental goals and needs
    • timely, relevant, targeted feedback to enhance practice
  • enhance the technology infrastructure
  • provide growth opportunities for the leadership team
  • engage all stakeholders in supported practice to integrate brain theory and research based pedagogical practices in unique and interesting ways to support student learning.
  • provide support to select and implement the tools/resources that align best with the student goals

EPS Essentials of Personalized Learning

The Technology

A key component of Evergreen’s LIFT initiative is ensuring that our schools, students, and staff have equitable access to technology –including devices, software, and infrastructure—which support Essentials of Personalized teaching and learning.  With greater access to technology also comes the need for educators and parents to work together to help students understand how the digital world works.

Device Distribution

By the 2017-2018 school year, all K-2nd students will have 2:1 in-classroom devices, all 3rd-5th students will have 1:1 in-class devices, and all 6th-12th students will have 1:1 take-home devices to use for learning.

Cyber Safety & Digital Citizenship

Students need to make good decisions so they can take advantage of the powerful technology that fills their lives both at school and at home. But they must know how the digital world works.

Multiple Platforms

This ensures that everyone is equipped with the latest software and equipment to efficiently provide instruction, collaboration, and support.

 

The Platform

As part of LIFT Evergreen — a district-wide initiative aimed at digitally transforming 21st century teaching and learning — EPS has launched a K-12 online platform that will eventually become the center of collaboration, personalization, curriculum, instruction, and communication for all EPS staff, students, and parents.

What is a digital learning platform?

A digital learning platform is an online software environment that can be used by educators and students to give everyone involved in a child’s education the information, digital tools, and resources they need to learn together — both inside and outside the classroom.

How will the platform benefit teachers?

The platform is designed to help EPS teachers do more in less time and personalize instruction for students. From planning and delivering course work to assessing and reporting student progress, teachers are pulled in different directions. But what if many of the routine tasks they do every day such as creating, collecting, and grading assignments could be automated? And what if it were easier for them to share resources with colleagues and students and develop multimedia instruction? The HUB is designed to do all this and more.

How will the platform benefit students?

In order to succeed in today’s global workforce, students must be able to think critically, make responsible decisions, communicate effectively, and be adaptable and productive. Developing these characteristics requires that students be exposed to technology, resources, and tools they will use in the real world. The HUB will allow students 24-7 access to instructional material, coursework, and digital textbooks from any device and will give them a voice and choice in their learning and in how they demonstrate mastery of a subject. With the HUB, students have a safe space for independent learning, options to submit homework and projects, the ability to collaborate and communicate with their classmates, and the ability to reflect on and take ownership of their learning through blogs, discussion boards, and ePortfolios.

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