MECC Students Personalize Their Own Learning Goals
Over twenty years ago, the Mason School District's motto was "Where Each Student is Important." That motto uses a key word that still resonates today - each. No matter what, our district has always tried to stay focused on the needs of each of our learners. Today, however, Mason teachers and administrators are setting goals to go further. Over the next five years, our educators will personalize their students' learning which will give each student the opportunity to design a personal learning plan.
Some Mason educators are already helping their students to personalize their learning. On September 28, Mason Early Childhood Center teacher Kelly Bello gathered her first graders on the carpet in her room to talk about goal-setting. She shared how to set goals, and then led her students through an exercise to evaluate their writing during writing workshop, in order to set their own personal writing goals. MECC uses Columbia University's Writer's Workshop where our teachers act as a mentor author - modeling writing techniques and conferring with students as they move through the writing process.
"Even first graders can take charge of their learning and set personal learning goals for areas they recognize as needs," says Krissy Hufnagel, Innovative Learning Coach. "The writing workshop allows students to develop writing skills while choosing topics to write about that are of high interest in their own lives. Children can work on all of the standards and skills they need to develop as writers, while exploring topics that are meaningful to them. This is personalized learning that is happening everyday within the context of the broader curriculum."
By combining goal setting within the context of writing workshop, children are truly owning the learning experience. They choose the topic and a goal, while still having teacher support on the direction their learning is moving.
Students hunkered over their writing samples as they judged their own writing, and determined if they had mastered concepts like using describing or "sparkly" words, punctuation, transitions, dialogue and spacing - or if that was an area that they should make a goal.
"This is an awesome way to empower students to set goals and celebrate with them when they reach their goals. Most students don’t reflect on their own learning naturally. It’s not an innate skill that most students - even most adults - have. But it is so exciting to see students analyzing their own writing, and determining for themselves what areas they want to focus on," explains Bello.