Personalization refers to instruction that is paced to learning needs, tailored to learning preferences, and tailored to the specific interests of different learners. In an environment that is fully personalized, the learning objectives and content as well as the method and pace may all vary.
Our biggest fear is that teachers will feel replaced. The opportunity, in fact, is for teachers to have richer connections with students than ever before. Through blended learning, teachers have more time for high-value activities such as small-group instruction, mentoring, Socratic discussions, or project-based learning. These are learning methods that we have long treasured, but they can be tricky in a classroom that’s mostly whole-group instruction. Blended learning frees up the teacher to migrate into a place where his or her focus is on promoting deeper learning. We hope teachers will seize the moment to take on the higher order tasks that they want to do but haven’t been able to do. Our pilot teachers have indicated that they absolutely know each child better than they would have in the traditional method.
- Blended Learning is the practice of combining a highly qualified teacher with a robust online curriculum.- Edgenuity is the research-based video course curriculum, which offers more than 185 semester-equivalent core and elective online courses for students, grades 6-12. It basically is our textbook.
Edgenuity offers online blended learning programs in which the videos are part of traditionally structured classes. Its heavily video-based course program also includes exercises, quizzes and tests; courses are aligned with Common Core and state standards. The program is designed to be used under the guidance of teacher.
The presentation style of Edgenuity is traditional lecture format by certified teachers who specialize in the subject. (So much like a bricks-and-mortar school, each subject will have a different teacher.) Teachers have between three to five years’ experience (either in classroom or online teaching).
Yes, students can move ahead of the class. We are being cautious during this pilot to maintain a sense of connectivity. Students control the pacing of the material and can watch whole or portions of video lectures as frequently as they choose. They can track their progress on a dashboard that also measures their work against a timeline-based plan. Color-coded flags let students know if they are lagging behind the ideal pace of the class.
The Web Administrator has built-in “checkpoints” so that teachers (or districts) can monitor student progress. Edgenuity uses both formative and summative assessments. There are also chapter quizzes, tests and midterm exams.
The program does not build in adaptive mechanisms; it relies on students and teachers to monitor performance. Pre-test and prescriptive modules are available for students who need extra practice on particular concepts.
We totally understand your perspective as it relates to the current system. What do we do now with students that need more time to be successful? They do not get it. The semester ends. They were behind. They fail.
The list of students that have received D’s or F’s in our system at the end of a grading period is around 28 percent over the past two years. A student may get behind for one reason or another, be it an illness, family issue, or they just take more time before they can master the skill and never get that time. We (as teachers) move on because we have to cover the material.
The mountain gets larger and larger each time you fall behind for some students. They feel they just cannot get it done. They do not have a “growth mindset”. They feel their capacity is fixed...there is no hope to get better. They do not understand there IS hope and they CAN be successful. Learning should be the constant, not the amount of time it takes. We want our students to master knowledge, skills, and display understanding of rigorous content so that when they leave our school they have the knowledge as well as self-regulatory skills to be tremendously successful, accept challenges, and persist through difficult times.
We honestly think most students will not need extra time once they learn that in order to move on they have to prove mastery at a certain level. For those cases where it is necessary, we will work with the student and parent on an individual level. We have known for years that not all students learn at the same rate. We now have the ability to do something about that effectively.
We believe that if we allow a student to fail, we have failed that student.
It is one of our main written goals within our district to meet the needs of ALL learners. We will put plans in place to do just that. Our teachers are resourceful as are our students. We are confident in the fact that we know they will work with those students and parents to develop appropriate solutions to issues that arise for those youth.
Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are doing for the youth that the current system does not work for. The personalized-blended approach allows us to have more capacity to meet individual needs, whereas in the past, that capacity was much more limited.
These are two issues that the Parent task force and administration have wrestled with throughout this process. We know there are issues with Edgenuity. We ARE working with the vendor to promote the changes we feel are necessary for this to be successful for all of our students to the highest degree possible. They ARE listening to us.
We are also considering other avenues to supplement or perhaps even replace Edgenuity if we feel they will not be able to meet the needs of our students. Those include, but are not limited to building our own as we can, leveraging other resources currently available (for free in some cases), exploring new software as it becomes available, and leveraging our local education cooperatives for assistance in these areas. One thing our district prides itself in is that we are always looking for better ways to serve our students.
Finding the right blend of “technology as teacher”, providing direct, whole-class instruction, individual assistance, appropriate learning activities that foster social interaction, while achieving high student success will always be something we must work closely with teachers, students, and parent on as opportunities present themselves. Our vision is that those students that need more of any of the areas listed above to achieve at a high level will have the opportunity to do so. Currently the only avenue is what is put forth by the individual teacher. We now can do more but must always remain mindful of that balance.
One has to consider that we have hired that teacher to ensure that the learning activities and materials related to the curriculum which spells out what the students must know, understand, and be able to do are appropriate for each course. We must rely on the professional judgement of that teacher to make the adjustments when necessary based upon deficiencies in the material.
For years teachers have done that with respect to issues associated with textbooks and other resource materials. This is in many respects no different to a teacher responding to deficiencies that often occur within a textbook to make it more understandable on the part of the students. We have to trust that when a teacher sees a need, they have the capacity to create a better learning environment for that student.
Before we relied solely on the teacher’s perception. With the advances in software we can also rely more on data to inform those issues. Admittedly the software is not perfect yet but it is becoming better and better.
Each of the pilot teachers is working with those students to ensure they are not falling through the cracks. They are evaluating their current practices and make what they feel are their best professional and personal efforts to see all kids will succeed. This is one reason we have considered extending the deadline to complete the class for those that are failing until February 1. In the past, this was never an option. We applaud them for working with the students in this manner.
One of the outstanding benefits of implementing this research-based instruction, is to have an opportunity to do exactly that - prevent students from falling through the cracks.
This is a question we have not considered and it is a GREAT question because of that reason (not that the others weren’t)!
At this time we are not going to allow that to be an option as we have not considered it at such a late date. This deadline was established to assist those that learn at a slower pace. We anticipate only a few students in those pilot classes having to utilize this option.
The reason not affording all students that opportunity is so that we have time to consider how to ensure the protocols we have in place to not allow the students to “game” the system in order to receive that higher grade. We want legitimate and appropriate initial effort to ensure any revisitation of past work is worthy of consideration. We have not had time to consider this.
Thanks for making us think outside the box.