A school district in Minnesota is discovering that personalized learning energizes teachers, as they find new ways to engage students and celebrate their progress.
Personalized learning at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton is resulting in creativity among students and improved engagement.
Students in Howard Van Otterloo’s class made one project in the form of a cheeseburger. Each part presented an objective of the project. “It’s just a cool way to show that you understand what you’re talking about,” Van Otterloo said.
The district is doing a re-evaluation, and has set the goal of implementing a student centered learning style which is individualized. Meetings of staff, parents, and students have been part of the process, along with a visit to a different school district.
Among the personalized learning approaches adopted by teachers, Van Otterloo has implemented project-based learing, which he beleives is the direction in which education is moving.
“I like to be innovative and try new things,” he said. “If we’re going to go in this direction anyway, I like to get my feet wet a little bit.”
Helping students meet the state learning objectives is key, and there are a variety of approaches. Otterloo’s students came up with their own method of presenting information about what they learn.
“The whole idea is to have some fun, but they’re still learning,” Van Otterloo said. “In fact, I think in many cases they’re learning better than they did before.”