The evolution of technology throughout history has lead to vast changes across society such as mechanization, social media, phones and personal devices, and more. Mr. Slane, the principal at Section Elementary School (SEC), believes education should also adapt to the changes and progress impacting the world.
“Schools needs to be changing with society’s changes,” Slane stated.
The introduction of the Innovative Personalized Learning Community (IPLC) throughout the last four years has created an environment for students to learn and grow at their own pace and in their own unique way. The program emphasizes collaboration, progress, a goal-oriented mindset, and developing problem solving strategies. As written in the mission statement, “Learners in this community will benefit by being well prepared for the world’s challenges as students, members of the working world, and citizens.”
The Mukwonago Education Foundation donated (still need exact value) to SEC to purchase apps and technology to help start IPLC. Students in IPLC regularly use chromebooks and iPads to research and learn about various topics in their own custom way. The style of learning is not the only difference in the classroom.
Unlike traditional classrooms, rows of desks are replaced with tables, couches, and floor-seats for students to freely move about the classroom. Rather than listening to a teacher lecture all day, students learn the material on their own in a way that is customized to their learning style. Some students use graphic organizers, others prefer ‘ABC summary’ notes and ‘power notes,’ it all depends on the individual student.
“They demonstrate competencies, but do it in different ways,” Slane explained. “The motto we have is ‘voice and choice.’ They have a say in the direction they want to go in and some choice in how they get there.”
Students present what they learn to the class through small group discussions, power point presentations, making posters, and more. The grading scale is also adjusted to be more centered about evaluating progress rather than how much someone knows. The standard based grading scale uses four, three, two, and one instead of letters, or advanced, proficient, basic, and minimal (with four being advanced).
Only one third of SEC student’s are picked to put in these modified classrooms, with parent approval. Once students are in the program, they are able to stay throughout their remaining years at SEC. IPLC is so popular that there is a waiting list, and students only leave the waiting list if someone moves schools.
Though the transition was difficult for teachers, the SEC staff has been fully dedicated to the project. While personalized learning isn’t everyone’s style of learning, IPLC has proven to be a success.