MAPS will be piloting a personalized learning program with a math unit in each elementary school this spring. The pilot will promote customized learning styles for students.
“If we can increase motivation and engagement in students, they will learn at a higher rate,” Leipart said. “We can determine what a student’s primary learning style is and then work from there.”
With personalized learning, teachers assume different roles, coordinating and connecting students to learning, he added. MAPS has sent a team of teachers to a seminar to learn more about the practice of personalized learning and the relevancy to the district.
“A personalized learning system provides opportunities to maximize the potential of all students based on their needs, abilities, and preferences,” Leipart said. “Personalization incorporates, but moves beyond, both individualized learning and differentiated instruction.”
Three core components to a personalized learning system are: Comprehensive, data-rich learner profiles; customized learning paths; and proficiency-based progress.
Board member Linda Yingling said she would like to see the personalized learning concept expanded to reading.
“We do intend to take what we learn with this math pilot and use it in other areas,” Leipart said.
One-on-One Digital Learning
Merrill elementary schools will be adding Chromebooks to the classrooms next school year to expose students to more learning opportunities through technology.
MAPS will be starting with a small pilot at the fourth grade level, said MAPS Technology Director Mike Giese said.
“This initiative will allow more opportunities for our students (no matter what their ability or learning style is) to be exposed to the best and most inspiring content available,” Giese reported to the MAPS Board of Education. “ It will allow them to create, collaborate, and communicate in ways that are not currently possible (continue for the students who had technology last year), and it will further enable students to learn how to learn, use the internet, research their world, and connect their ideas with a greater audience.”
The plan is to purchase devices at all three elementary location: 30 at Jefferson, 25 at Kate Goodrich and 10 at Washington. No additional funds are being requested, as funding for these devices will be handled at the building level using building funds.
Ipads have been introduced at the third grade level and that use will be expanded throughout the district next year as well. As with the iPads, Giese said he doesn’t expect the district will allow the Chromebooks to be taken off premise in the 2014-2015 school year. Within the school walls, ample internet bandwidth is available to operate the devices with Google’s Cloud-based applications.
The Board of Education voted to move ahead with the pilot project as presented.