At a School Board work session held on March 28, staff presented information about the school division’s approach to personalized learning and the plan for implementation. The work session was held to build a shared understanding of personalized learning; provide an update on current practices and a vision for moving forward; and to analyze the impact of technology on the budget, as technology is an important tool to support personalized learning.
Staff discussed how digital resources support personalized learning environments in the classroom. Personalized learning moves the classroom beyond differentiated teaching to learner-centered personalized instruction. APS focuses on the following areas:
- Choice – the learner has the choice in how they learn and options on how to demonstrate mastery
- Engagement – the learner sets learning goals and is intrinsically motivated to own and drive their learning
- Voice – the learner contributes to the design of lessons, projects and assignments
“Personalized learning is a model that will prepare our students for post high school options and the workforce of the future,” stated Superintendent Dr. Pat Murphy. “More and more, students are taking ownership of their learning goals, and personalized learning through the use of technology supports their access to the instructional materials they need to achieve them – anywhere, anytime. This effort directly aligns with Virginia’s Profile of a Graduate that focuses on providing the educational experience students need to succeed, including content knowledge, workplace skills, career exploration, community engagement and civic responsibility.”
Members of the Abingdon Elementary School staff discussed their work and provided examples of how digital devices support this concept in the classroom and discussed the benefits for teachers, students and families.
“Students learn at different paces and have different instructional needs,” stated Dr. Tara Nattrass, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction. “The personalized learning approach is transforming classrooms and allowing our students to develop a deeper sense of learning as instruction is delivered in a flexible, learner-centered and highly interactive format. Technology provides teachers with the tools to support the individual needs of each learner and bridge the equity gap so we can improve learning for all students.”
In addition, the session also focused on efforts underway to strengthen the APS personalized learning initiative to support instruction through three areas:
- Best Practices – implementing evidence-based instructional practices including individualized instruction, assessment and feedback, practice, active learning, and mastery learning in every classroom; incorporating the standards from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) into APS curriculum; and considering the Virginia State Technology Plan
- Consistency – implementing consistency in evaluating instructional materials and resources through a standard rubric, strengthening professional learning through various professional learning models including teacher design teams, and aligning the use of digital resources with the curriculum
- Instructional Time – managing the appropriate level of “screen time” for students consistent with the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and ensuring that devices do not take the place of recess and other activities that contribute to developing the needs of the Whole Child
Finally, staff reviewed the budget implications and indicated that the total cost of student technology in the schools is approximately $4 million per year and that the per-student cost of student technology has decreased from 2013-14 to 2017-18. In addition, the cost of breakage and damage to the student devices is about $140,000 annually, which is significantly lower than originally expected for almost 18,000 devices.
School Board members asked staff to schedule a second work session to explore use of the devices at the secondary level, and to discuss the overall challenges, and next steps as APS moves forward with the program.
All documents and the PowerPoint are available online and the video of the session may be viewed at http://livestream.com/AETVaps/events/6961905. For more information on Personalized Learning, visit www.apsva.us/personalized-learning.