City school moves toward more individualized teaching model
Staff reports 7:20 a.m.
ROCHESTER - Rochester Middle School is finishing its first year of a personalized learning pilot program that aims to provide individualized instruction to students.
The first in the Rochester school district and in the state of New Hampshire to embark on this initiative, Rochester Middle School launched the personalized learning program in September in an effort to tailor instruction to students, allowing them to be more engaged in classroom lessons and reach higher levels of learning, according to a press release.
On Tuesday, from 8-10 a.m., the middle school hosted a Learning Walk, inviting consulting company Education Elements, which worked with officials to launch the program, back to the school to observe instruction and provide feedback to teachers.
This year, teachers in 22 of some 90 classrooms in the middle school moved away from the traditional class-wide lecturing to more individualized instruction.
As part of the personalized learning program, which was implemented in all grade levels and subjects within the middle school, teachers assess students on an individual basis and direct instruction to each student based on their personal learning style and educational needs.
"Instead of the teacher instructing the whole class at once, they are looking at each student as an individual and directing their content to students based on where they are in that particular moment," Principal Adam Houghton said. "Everyone is getting what they need."
When in a personalized learning class, students move through "playlists" of work set by the teacher, who then travels throughout the room to provide individual, direct instruction to each person. While some students are working with the teacher, others complete group or individual work. Students continue to move throughout the playlist of work, finishing assignments at their own pace and receiving one-on-one assistance and feedback when necessary. In turn, an increase in the level of engagement and rigor is seen in classrooms.
"This program ensures that there is no artificial ceiling to students' work. Even the most advanced student needs enrichment and development, and students with specific educational challenges may excel in areas that others might not," Houghton said. "Our work this year has been to effectively tailor the personalized learning program to our district. As the first in the state to attempt this, it is a bold shift in education policy."
In the fall, all classrooms in the middle school will transition to the personalized learning program. The hope is that the remaining schools in the Rochester school district will join in the coming years.