Single Path Technology Supports Blended-Personalized Education in New Chicago School.
Intrinsic Schools is a Chicago-based charter school network looking to use technology to support a Blended-Personalized Learning model to educate students in grades 7 to 12. They enlisted Single Path to help launch the first of a planned five-school system, and the early results are encouraging. We’re going to look at the underlying environment and proposed solutions, the early stages of the system’s development, and Single Path’s role in helping promote a better way to help our children prepare for life in a technology-driven world.
The Achievement Gap
It’s always been a problem. Students sharing the classroom do not share the same levels of current ability and skill, especially from subject to subject. Angel has already mastered the Math lesson being reviewed, and is bored. Chris never learned its precedent, and is hopelessly lost. Neither student is learning anything new.
Wouldn’t it be better to have different assignments and approaches for Angel and Chris, even though they’re in the same classroom? Personalizing every student’s program is an attempt to bridge the achievement gap; and technology can help accomplish it. Intrinsic Schools in Chicago, Illinois is in the early stages of getting it done.
Blended-Personalized Learning and the School of Tomorrow
Hybrid Education. Flipping the Classroom. Blended Learning. Though not precisely synonymous, these terms all refer to new approaches to teaching that incorporate technology. They expand the traditional model of a teacher presenting material to a classroom of students, adding small group instruction, personalized programs, and 1:1 sessions. Combining all methods is key to bridging the achievement gap, and all are central to the future of the students at Intrinsic Schools.
Each grade-level POD has multiple classrooms with a variety of learning spaces. The most traditional is for small-group direct instruction from teachers, where Chromecast is utilized to project materials on the board. The second learning space is called “the exchange.” This is a space at which smaller groups of students gather – now with their Chromebooks* – to discuss issues that came to mind during the previous session. The final space, called “the coastline,” is for individual students to work independently, addressing personalized learning needs.
Intrinsic Schools students also have an Advisory teacher to mentor them at the start and end of every school day. In November, all students participate in student-led conferences where they assess their progress and, with their parents and Advisor, make a plan for the semester to come and beyond.
Intrinsic Schools’ goal is for this Blended-Personalized Learning model to evolve, improve, and eventually become transferable to schools everywhere. But first, they had to build it all from scratch.
New Model, New School
In 2013-2014, Intrinsic Schools opened for 185 ninth-grade students in a renovated space in downtown Chicago. At the same time, a new campus was being built from the ground up, converting an old lumber yard on the North Side into a modern school to offer the latest technologies and integrate the Blended-Personalized Learning curriculum.
This is the first of five campuses planned to launch over the next several years, to serve 7-12 grade students from various backgrounds across Chicago. The new campus required an IT Partner who understood the technological needs of a 21st Century school and possessed the necessary experience to properly execute the vision.
Technology by Single Path
Intrinsic Schools brought in Single Path to design, install and service adaptive technology. Everything – all the cabling and clocks, speakers and security, data ports and distribution frames, video and wireless – was custom designed and brand new. Going forward, Single Path is providing 24/7 maintenance and proactive monitoring to keep all networks up and running for students, teachers and administrators alike.
The school has had virtually no issues with the technology or managed services provided by Single Path, and the program is off to a great start. Their Director of Technology is able to concentrate on service and support for teachers and students, without the worry and time of attending to basic maintenance and daily troubleshooting. The great experiment of Blended-Personalized Learning has taken root in Chicago, and is primed to spread. For more information visit intrinsicschools.org.
*95% of Intrinsic Schools students are issued Chromebooks. This choice was made to allow the management of more machines with minimal effort, even with the challenge of everyone logging in at the same time. If a laptop goes down, the student is handed a new one he or she can use right away, accessing documents, data and applications on the cloud instead of on a hard drive.