- Writing for eSchool News, Manor Independent School District (TX) Superintendent Dr. Royce Avery details how his district approaches teaching students basics such as literacy in an increasingly digital classroom environment where instant gratification and shorter attention spans have become a constant consideration.
- Central to the district's approach is building student choice via greater engagement through methods including project-based learning, a "street-smart" approach to digital citizenship and using devices properly, and using literacy tools like MyOn to tailor reading assignments to students' interests and goals.
- The more choice students have, according to Avery, the more likely they are to be engaged and focused, asking questions and building the skills they need for continuing success.
Ultimately, what Avery and other educators in Manor ISD have found backs up the benefits of personalized learning. Take the example of literacy into consideration: If students are offered a choice of reading assignments that align with standards at their grade level, but are also targeted to their interests, and the conditions of work completed are broad enough to facilitate a demonstration of their understanding of the book they selected, they're more likely to be engaged.
The thought is basically that, for example, if a high school junior isn't engaged by "The Grapes of Wrath" or "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," they may respond better to "Slaughterhouse Five," "Frankenstein," "Fahrenheit 451," or one of the numerous other recommendations at that level. Few students are likely to make their way through the entire reading list, so finding a way for them to work with whatever interests them most can increase their likelihood of success.
While the larger class sizes in traditional public schools can make more personalized learning experiences difficult to pull off compared to smaller private school models, recognizing where the approach can be successfully applied with broader, more open-ended assignments can still make a difference.