Personalized learning in Mehlville schools

Personalized learning: Providing student choice and student voice
Posted on 12/20/2018
Chromebooks help support personalized learning

From kindergarten through senior year, students have an increasing say in how and what they learn. It's called personalized learning, and it's part of the district's strategy to increase student engagement and prepare students for life after graduation.

"Personalized learning helps students because it empowers them to be active participants in their education. And what student doesn't like having a say in their path?" explained Alicia Landers, Mehlville’s director of curriculum technology. "By allowing students to have a voice and make choices, they become more engaged and excited about their learning. Students learn at a deeper level, remember the experience, and are better able to transfer the skills into their daily lives and throughout their future."

Elementary teachers embrace personalized learning in many ways, said Sarah Fahrner, director of elementary curriculum. "There are a variety of ways for our kids to learn our curriculum and meet grade-level standards, and our teachers are really doing a great job of making learning meaningful and personalized to each child."

Rather than presenting long lessons to the entire class, teachers rely on shorter lessons so they can provide opportunities for activity stations, custom instruction to small groups of students, and independent learning on Chromebooks.
Students often engage in project-based learning, which allows them to gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a question, problem or challenge — sometimes of their own choosing. 
Several teachers, including those at MOSAIC Elementary, provide students with learning menus on their Chromebooks. Menus contain activities students must complete and others they can choose to complete.
In most classes, students can sit or stand where they feel most comfortable.
Maker spaces and the MySci science curriculum encourages students to create and experiment in ways that are meaningful to their learning.

In middle school, there are additional opportunities for personalized learning. This year, all four middle schools adopted an 8-period schedule, allowing students to enroll in two electives as opposed to one. Many students choose to take Project Lead the Way (PLTW) courses, which expose students to subjects like robotics, computer science, architecture and medicine.

PLTW is also at high school, as are a variety of elective options to allow students to pursue what they’re passionate about.
Students can create their own class around a project or topic of interest via MyPath. Students have created MyPath programs in journalism, education, neuroscience, finance and computer science to name a few.
Mehlville School District participates in St. Louis Centers for Advanced Professional Studies, a program that allows juniors and seniors to test-drive future careers in global business and entrepreneurship; technology solutions and logistics; engineering and advanced manufacturing; or medicine, health care and bioscience. Students spend part of their school day at workplaces where they complete projects and shadow professionals.
High school students can also take virtual courses or spend part of their day at South County Technical School taking career and technical education classes.

"Throughout the district, we recognize and embrace that teaching in the 21st century requires a student-centered approach," said Amanda Zink, director of secondary curriculum. "We have fantastic teachers here in Mehlville who are ready to meet our kids unique needs."

Seniors pursue their interests while gaining career, college experiences

William HoWilliam Ho, Mehlville High School
MyPath in Nanotechnology and Physics

Having exhausted all of the physics course offerings at Mehlville High, Ho has been shadowing a St. Louis University physics professor. He’s also observing the research done by students in the field of nanomaterials and condensed material.

Lee KreutzmanLee Kreutzman, Mehlville High School
STLCAPS in technology solutions and logistics, and internship at the MHS 1:1 technology help desk

In addition to building websites for clients through STLCAPS, Kreutzman also has an internship at school. Working alongside a district technician in the school's 1:1 office, Kreutzman troubleshoots and fixes problems with student Chromebooks. 

Mia LukicMia Lukic, Oakville High School
MyPath in Women's and Gender Studies and Nonprofit Leadership

On any given day, Lukic might be networking with professionals or volunteering for a nonprofit. "There is not a women's and gender studies class at Oakville. MyPath is a good opportunity for students who don't have a class that fits what they want to do," she said.

Lily ZahraiLily Zahrai, Oakville High School
STLCAPS in medicine, health care and bioscience

"My ultimate goal is to be a cardiothoracic surgeon with a pediatric specialty," Zahrai said. Through CAPS, she's already having experiences typically reserved for medical students, like observing open heart surgeries and making presentations to physicians.

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