September 7, 2016
The Dysart Unified School District is committed to creating a teaching and learning environment powered by innovative learning strategies. If we are to prepare students for the world of work and life they will step into after graduating, the learning environment must support the development of relevant work, life skills, and dispositions embedded in a strong foundation of core instruction. Dysart is building a 21st Century learning environment that includes innovative approaches. This work includes the use of technology to transform teaching and learning towards personalized education that uses competency measures to demonstrate student success and mastery.
In this competency based environment, students apply lessons and skills by engaging in real-world, authentic problems and learning strategies to become independent and innovative thinkers. These strategies are the keys in an ever-changing world focused not only on a strong knowledge base, but also on the ability to work creatively to find solutions in the workplace and in society.
Our students are using technology to transform the learning environment beyond the walls of a typical classroom and beyond a traditionally defined school day schedule. The use of blended learning, online options, and innovative classroom instruction support student learning. Additionally, we incorporate the skills of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking into the curriculum to ensure our students are future ready.
What we have heard from employers is that they are looking for students who know how to use these skills to meet the demands of today and tomorrow. They are looking for marketable skills including leadership, team building, goal setting, planning, decision making, ethical judgment, and higher-order thinking through critical thinking and problem-solving. Relevant hands on strategies enhance the utilization of the skills through authentic learning experiences including the use of makerspaces and project based learning enhance our student’s opportunities in addition to our expanded pathways, signature programs, and academies.
In 2016, we launched another option for students who are looking for a technology rich personalized learning pathway. The Dysart Innovation Academy provides a personalized learning environment for students in grades 6-8. Utilizing digital learning tools and relevant, project based Instructional approaches, this academy personalizes education for students by addressing the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students. Personalized learning allows instruction to be paced to student needs, modified to address learning preferences, and tailored to the interests of each learner. Student voice is an important component with children engaged in decisions about the what, when and how of learning.
Teachers facilitate and mentor students who are engaged in integrated, real life learning experiences while technology allows students the opportunity to take ownership for their learning. Providing students with the necessary support and the freedom to make choices regarding the place, pace, path, and time of their learning meets the needs of every learner. Because this environment provides for individualized educational plans, the Innovation Academy is able to meet the needs of special education students, students identified as gifted learners, and every child who chooses to enroll in this transformative educational environment. This incubator of innovation will help identify additional strategies for personalizing learning throughout the Dysart Unified School District.