Education technology today is froth with new trends. Blended learning. Self-pacing. Flipped classrooms. Project-based learning. There’s a lot to choose from on this menu and schools and teachers are looking for just the right option for their students.
But should you limit yourself – or your students – to just one innovative practice? Maybe not. Maybe it’s time to branch out and test the waters with a few ideas.
That’s what we did at Taylor County School District. We decided to get creative and let teachers determine how they want to teach and students determine how they want to learn. Our strategy is based on a six-spoke wheel of innovative learning, consisting of a traditional spoke, self-paced spoke, peer/cooperative spoke, virtual spoke, project-based spoke, and Cardinal Academy spoke. (Cardinal Academy is an independent learning program that includes an internship.) Students and teachers decide where their strengths lie on the wheel and make their decisions accordingly.
And the system works. Sometimes teachers will cross over spokes based on the classes they teach. That’s fine. Likewise, a student may want traditional teaching for one class, but a more project-based approach for another. We encourage this. Cardinal Academy kids don’t follow a set schedule, so they may want to learn virtually for one subject instead of going to class. We allow this provided the student is capable of meeting the standards without a teacher lecture.
Here’s the point: One size does not fit all when it comes to education. Don’t limit yourself to focusing on just one innovation. Instead, listen to your teachers and students and give them the support they need to break that mold and be innovative. You’ll be glad you did!
Roger D. Cook is the current superintendent at the Taylor County School District in Campbellsville, Kentucky. This year marks his tenth year as a school superintendent where he has instituted Performance Based Education in two school districts. Mr. Cook has had eight straight years with zero drop-outs and his school district is one of only a few in Kentucky that has a one hundred percent graduation rate. Mr. Cook was named in 2013 as a “Top Twenty Educator to Watch” by the NSBA during the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) conference in Washington D.C. He was also named a “Top Thirty Digital Educator” in 2014 by the Center for Digital Education as a top Thirty Digital Technologists, Transformers and Trailblazers. Furthermore, he is a 3-time KSBA PEAK Award winner.
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