Educators incorporating personalized learning in classrooms
May. 13, 2018
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — Teachers in an Alaska borough are embracing a different approach that allows students to choose what and how they learn.
Educators at the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District are leading the charge in incorporating personalized learning for the borough's 13,702 K-12 students, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
All of the borough's traditional public schools now are working to use the personalized learning approach, which includes flexible seating, digital content, project-based learning, small groups, student-driven reflections and allowing students to progress at their own pace.
Some schools are looking at specializing in certain areas, such as STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Elementary schools began personalized learning in early 2017 and are the furthest ahead.
Some students at Ladd Elementary School spend one hour a week learning about a subject of their choosing.
"I am forcing students to ask and answer their own questions," Ladd Elementary School teacher Jeannette Fortune said. "They are in charge of their learning."
Fortune hosted an open house in March where her third-graders created videos and built cardboard models to show what they had learned.
Education Elements, a California-based education consulting firm, is working under a $1.5 million contract to assist the district with the transition to personalized learning. Consultants with the group have visited every school.
Schools and districts throughout Alaska also are adopting personalized learning strategies, according to Tim Parker, president of the Alaska chapter of the National Education Association, and Michael Johnson, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
Fortune has taught for 17 years and said she is blown away with the effectiveness of personalized learning.
Technology is allowing her to go deeper with advanced students, while helping slower students keep up. Fortune conducts individual conferences with each of her students twice a day, she said.
Attendance in her class of 22 is up.
"They want to come to school," Fortune said. "It's been amazing — truly, truly amazing."
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com