How Small School Districts Are Making Personalized Learning A Reality

How Small School Districts Are Making Personalized Learning A Reality

How Small School Districts Are Making Personalized Learning A Reality

How Small School Districts Are Making Personalized Learning A Reality

Six year-old Josh Griney was born without eyes, four year-old “Lincoln” did not walk, crawl, or run until day 7 of infancy, and 3 year-old “Sidney” was born without eyes, two teeth, and had 6 surgeries to make a smile and a laugh.

These four kids are part of [email protected], a family of siblings at a local nondenominational Christian school serving students in kindergarten through 8th grade that are gifted and highly motivated to learn, along with very motivated special needs children who have disabilities.

In 2014, these siblings were “selected” by Global Vulnerability Partners, a global network of special education experts, architects, and academics to seek out resources and community support, to create a program that meets the needs of these special needs kids while teaching the concepts of diversity, equity, and character and leadership, according to their website.

[email protected] offers the following extended programming at their newest school, Northside Christian School in Dallas, Texas:

Academics: 6th and 7th grades include Biology and Geometry, a course in Prototyping and 3D Printing, and a CSI course through a partnership with the Life Sciences department.

Emotional, Behavioral, and Social Development: Included in academic curriculum is an important “character enrichment” section including character studies of Christianity, faith, and morals.

Community: Being a small school, only 17 students are enrolled at Northside. Every student and their families have access to all the resources on campus, including the church that sits on the property, a gym with dance classes, gifted programs, art classes, and senior year final exams, and/or online classes to meet even smaller student numbers.

“We meet all our needs as a family in faith, especially when it comes to curriculum,” said their mother, Wendy. “We love the opportunity to keep our kids safe and in school all day while still engaging in one of the most important aspects of our faith — being active in our school.”

This kind of personalized learning model has been created for each of these students, and their entire family, to feel connected and appreciated.

“The staff is one of the best parts of the job,” Wendy said. “Our teachers know our kids and how they react to stuff. If there’s a part of the curriculum that some of our kids don’t like, they’ll offer a piece of feedback like, ‘you can do that’ or ‘you need to do this better’ because they know what works for them. We also are able to bring what we’re learning at home with us for the rest of the day, and if it’s just not working, we’re able to ask for suggestions.”

Districts and education companies can replicate this approach to help every child become successful through personalized learning. “We’re very grateful to Global Vulnerability Partners for their support over the years. I wish that every school would have this resource — it would be a godsend for families who struggle to get the right resources at home,” Wendy said.

Making Personalized Learning A Reality for Texas School Children

By Lizzy O’Connor, For MindShift

Adopting strategies such as the “at home learning support” model and teacher mentoring in Texas schools have allowed for a tenfold increase in students over the past nine years. By 2011, 37 percent of fourth-graders, 25 percent of sixth-graders, and 11 percent of students in all grades studied in Texas were taking four or more of the most challenging classes.

When trained teachers partner with family, school, and community, it’s a surefire way to ensure that each child is successful. It allows for small class sizes, opportunities for hands-on activities, and hands-on learning. The project was developed by the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Education Agency in an effort to reduce the “Lifetime Guarantee.” Based on a national study of 25 students, this policy gives schools wide latitude to limit the number of advanced classes and subjects to 90 students for the first four years of their studies in order to ensure overall student achievement.

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