By Wally Leipart
Focusing the District on the right things is a key responsibility of the Board. It also helps our Board members navigate through discussions and assist in making decisions. At its December Regular Board Meeting, the Board of Education adopted a resolution providing a district definition of Personalized Learning based off of the Institute for Personalized Learning, Wisconsin’s Education Innovation Lab’s definition of Personalized Learning as stated here:
Personalized learning is an approach to learning and instruction that is designed around individual learner readiness, strengths, needs and interests. Learners are active participants in setting goals, planning learning paths, tracking progress and determining how learning will be demonstrated. At any point in time, learning objectives, content, method and pacing are likely to vary from learner to learner. A fully personalized environment moves beyond both differentiation and individualization.
By committing to personalized learning, the Board of Education strives to make Merrill Area Public Schools a Destination District where students are motivated and engaged in a learning environment that prepares them for their future. I am proud of our school board for taking a very positive approach in the right direction for our kids!
1 to 1 Technology for the High School
As we wrap up our first phase of the iPad deployment for the kindergarten through eighth grade students, we turn our sights to the high school. The Merrill Area Public School District is excited to inform our students, families, and community members of the next phase of the 1-to-1 iPad initiative that will be implemented for Merrill High School. The purpose of this initiative is to create a dynamic educational experience that supports a personalized learning approach and the skills necessary for our students to be successful in a digital age.
At the Dec. 16, 2015 Board Meeting, the Board of Education approved the purchase of iPad Pros for the high school. This an exciting opportunity for our students and the District. Technology analysts and major software and app developers consider the iPad Pro the future of technology. The iPad Pro bridges the gap between a laptop and an iPad. For starters, its larger screen size allows for a full size and functioning virtual keyboard. Other features that will enhance learning is the high resolution retina screen, multi tasking features, the ability to add an external keyboard and an Apple Pencil (stylus). These enhanced features will create a rich learning opportunity for Merrill High School students to access rigorous curriculum and allow them to deeply personalize the learning process.
The changing landscape of printed information to digital form will require today’s student to have a different set of skills than what was required just a decade ago. Future graduates must be equipped with not just basic skills, but a variety of 21st Century skills that include problem solving, critical thinking, communication, digital citizenship and digital literacy. The reality is that a student who is college and career ready will need to be able to access information quickly, synthesize and communicate information, and collaborate with colleagues – not just in person, but within a global and digital community.
The Merrill Area Public Schools recognizes that integrating technology requires us to train and demonstrate appropriate digital citizenship. Students will be taught how to appropriately interact and positively contribute within a society full of technology. It is our goal to develop self-monitoring habits in students that sustains and improves a digital community by teaching the following primary concepts: Respect Yourself/Respect Others, Educate Yourself/Connect with Others, and Protect Yourself/Protect Others.
A lot of time has been spent researching best practices and visiting other districts that have successfully implemented 1-to-1 devices. Our district is dedicated to improving student learning by focusing on desired outcomes and expectations. Through this implementation process we will focus on:
•Using technology to support an engaging and motivating learner-centered environment
•Providing learning experiences that address a variety of student needs. Promote collaboration, creation, consumption of information, critical thinking and digital citizenship
•Strengthening students’ technology skills necessary for future success
Moving forward, we are excited as we continue to transform the learning opportunities for all students that will prepare them to be college and career ready. The iPad Pro is the newest device from Apple and we anticipate the receipt and preparation of the iPad Pros to take us a couple of months. We know you will have questions regarding this deployment and the use of iPad Pros. A frequently asked questions document for iPads is available on our website for parents to use as a guide. It is important for everyone to understand that this is a comprehensive process that takes time. We ask for your patience as we prepare staff and students for the iPad Pro deployment.
As always, we are interested in your feedback. Please contact us with your questions and ideas. Together we will make Merrill a Destination District!