- While the new school year brought new 1:1 iPad rollouts, professional development, and teachers for YES Prep Northbrook Middle School, it also brought a new outlook on personalized learning and global citizenship in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, 6th-grade humanities teacher Kristin Cornwell writes for EdSurge.
- Inspired by the actions of 8th-grade student Valentin Espinoza, who joined forces with several friends to raise money for victims via a lemonade stand (at one point receiving a $10,000 check from a donor), homeroom teachers worked with students to develop individual approaches for each classroom to contribute to relief efforts.
- The end result wasn't just kind notes to fellow students impacted by the storm, canned food drives, or dances and bake sales to raise money, but a greater understanding of citizenship and community driven by a personalized learning experience relevant to the world around the students.
Building personalized learning experiences and real-world connections into lessons often seems easier said than done. As YES Prep shows, however, it's often as simple as paying attention to how students are handling current events and guiding them through ways they can apply what they've learned or are in the process of learning to solve problems or effectively engage with various stakeholders and policymakers.
In YES Prep's case, those connections came with a social-emotional learning component, as well, as students exercised empathy, teamwork, and citizenship skills in their approaches to relief efforts. As focus returns to providing a more well-rounded education beyond just the subjects primarily covered on state assessments, finding ways to offer cross-disciplinary lessons — especially those that offer real-world context — will become more important to producing students prepared not just for the workforce, but for effective civic engagement.