VIDEO: Pasadena ISD is connecting students to a personal learning experience

VIDEO: Pasadena ISD is Connecting students to a personal learning experience
Posted on 11/06/2015
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Three Pasadena ISD schools are participating in a national, landmark personalized learning program in partnership with Summit Public Schools.

Summit Public School’s model, a personalized learning program called Connect, allows students to become self-directed learners and to receive consistent, relevant and personalized support including weekly one-on-one mentor time with instructors. 

Three Pasadena ISD schools, Carter Lomax Middle, Thompson Intermediate and Dobie High, were chosen to join 19 total schools across the nation to participate.

Students in the program carry out their entire school day within the structure of the Connect Program. Students work at their own pace, mastering concepts in a way that works best for their own learning style, while teachers receive real time information on the students’ progress.

This allows teachers to address learning gaps before they become major problems and students to become active participants in their education, building the knowledge and learning skills that will help them succeed in college and the workplace.

“Every student has a Personalized Learning Plan within an online platform where they are able to access learning resources at any time, 24/7,” Vickie Vallet, Pasadena ISD Director of Instructional Technology said. “Students use the PLP to set goals, access learning resources, submit work and track their progress.”

The program is divided into two sections: personalized learning time and project time. During personalized learning time, students learn through a combination of online playlists that provide diverse learning resources like videos, presentations and reference texts, peer-to -peer coaching and one-on-one tutoring from their teachers.

Students also participate in project time where as a group, students use what they have learned and put it to work in a real world application using problem-solving, critical thinking and communications skills to tackle challenging problems. 

A large part of Connect is the mentoring program. Each student in the Connect Program is paired with a faculty mentor to meet every week to discuss progress, goals and how the student is dealing with challenges. Mentors push students to become self-directed learners who can set and achieve goals and seek new challenges.

“This allows me to get to know every single one of my students on a personal level,” Monique Luis, Carter Lomax Connect teacher said. “I have 21 students and I sit with five of them a day, one-on-one for 10 minutes at a time. The students show me their timeline in the PLP, we go over their grades and projects and it also allows time for us to connect. I have been able to create a totally different relationship with my students than ever before.”

Teachers who volunteered for the Connect program are seeing great results in the classroom.

“This has been the best teaching experience I’ve ever had,” Luis said. “It’s not about removing the teacher from the process, if anything I’m more involved. This program is about making the students responsible for their learning. I’m no longer in front of the room trying to reach 25 students. Each student is now receiving personalized time with me and with other Connect teachers. We are able to reach more students in a shorter amount of time. This program has proven to me that students are capable of learning on their own, they have really accepted this responsibility and taken to it very quickly.”

These teachers and administrators spent two weeks at Summit Public Schools in California this past summer learning about their new role as a Connect classroom teacher and how to use the Personalized Learning Plan software.

“The teachers and administrators in this program have changed their way of thinking to approach this new model of learning,” Vallet said. “Teachers are driving the program, they are invested in its successful execution and are essential to help build students’ habits and skills required to excel in school and in life. The buy-in of our teachers and administration is driving the momentum of this culture shift in education toward personalized learning.

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