Reconstruction Paves way to New Educational Paradigm

A year ago, the OASD learning journey went through a massive paradigm shift with the genesis of Learning without Limits (and the Chromebooks that came with it). Because of this taxpayer funded technology, the former A-wing lab could be stripped of computers and the space repurposed for English 1, English 2, and Global Academy classes. With the expansion of space, both logistically and philosophically, the English students will engage in a very different, more personalized learning environment. English teachers Alex Griffith and Malary Hill dedicated themselves to long days and nights of hard work for the past year to develop a successful platform for a new learning model.

“We really worked a ton this summer to make sure we had activities and lessons already in place,” Griffith said. “For example, we’re having these workshops that kids need to help strengthen their skills.”

Having joined the personalized learning cohort, Griffith and Hill needed to go through an approval process before implementing this new learning environment.

“Ms. Griffith and I had to go through a formal proposal writing of our classroom that we envisioned for this coming school year,” Hill said. “We then had to get that approved by the principal as well as people in the district office.”

Beyond the bureaucratic, they also needed an immense amount of support from colleagues to solidify their success.

“We needed a lot of support to make this happen, support from our department heads, support from our administration, support from technology coaches and curriculum coaches” Griffith said. “If you don’t have that support when you’re trying to take a risk, you’re never going to take it to begin with.”English chair Trent Scott agrees.

“I am excited to see how this approach  personalizes learning for our students,” he said.

    With the approval of the school board, the redesign of the former A-Wing Computer Lab provides students with more spacious  room to focus on their chosen style of learning.     

    “I think it just honestly provides us space where you can have students who are working in a workshop with a teacher, students that are working in a small group, and students that are working independently” Hill said. “With a space this size, you can have the different atmospheres.”  

With this new approach to academics, students are able to choose a desired focus and pace themselves without pressure from others.

“Traditionally kids have been forced to go at the same pace as their peers and we wanted to make that so it didn’t happen,” Griffith said. “We’re giving the kids who needed the extra help, extra help and letting the kids who didn’t keep going and not holding them back and restricting them.”

Griffith and Hill use Canvas to make it easier for students to pace themselves and keep assignments organized.

“We’re using Canvas as our platform so we built our entire year within it,” Hill said. “Kids can move through things at their own pace rather than them having to wait until the teacher creates an assignment for the next day.”

For students, this new environment is an immense adjustment from how they have been learning in the past, as two grades are combined into one space.

“It’s really cool because freshmen aren’t afraid to work with sophomores and sophomores don’t feel silly working with freshmen,” Hill said. “It’s an awesome experience as everyone wants to engage, and I’ve loved seeing their perspectives on it.”

As the school year progresses, students begin to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. Griffith and Hill believe this new approach to learning is going to help students gain back their drive for success

“I want students to fall in love with learning again because for some reason at the high school level they lose that,” Griffith said. “They lose that curiosity; they lose their passion, and I think it’s so important to make sure you maintain that the rest of your life.”

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