CA/ET: Curriculum and Assessment/ Educational Theory
Pappano, L. (2018). A “handmade forerunner” of personalized learning, forged by teachers. The Hechinger Report. Retrieved from: https://hechingerreport.org/a-handmade-forerunner-of-personalized-learning-forged-by-teachers/
This article features a student-centered model of instruction that arose in Minnesota long before the movement gathered momentum. Over the past 25 years, the official quest for educational progress has tightly molded itself around measurable content standards and achievement goals, making testing the single most powerful legacy of education reform in America. This practice glosses over the nuanced practice of teaching and the reality of learning.
Teachers at Orchard Lake Elementary in Minnesota challenged themselves to design a radically different learning experience for students and innovate instruction within the rigid confines of a traditional public school.
Each student was assigned to a K-5, multi-age “community.” Teachers arranged the schedule so that all students had reading and math simultaneously. They chunked the curriculum into “strands,” with assessments so students could progress at their own pace.
This approach has worked because when students are in lessons “the learning is relevant to them, it is do-able.” Even those who need more time, she said, “are like, ‘Wow, I can do this.’ That breeds a success mindset.”
I love the idea of designing a curriculum that focuses on relevance for students, that is tailored to their academic needs, and meets them where they are. Students are working within their zone of proximal development and the curriculum is differentiated for them, with assessments embedded in the curriculum strands. It is an innovative approach to instruction and a testament to the possibility of student centered learning within the confines of a public educational system. It also promotes a growth mindset which leads to academic success and a positive self-image for students.