Shifting Teaching and Learning in Hartford – A Student Centered Approach

Shifting Teaching and Learning in Hartford – A Student Centered Approach

Published on Mar 17, 2016

As part of a three year grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Hartford Public Schools is implementing different aspects of Student Centered Learning at three Centers of Innovation.  These are: Anytime, Anywhere Learning at Bulkeley High School and Journalism and Media Academy; Personalized Learning at HPHS Academy of Engineering and Green Technology, High School Inc. and Pathways Academy of Technology and Design, and Mastery Based Learning at University High and HPHS Law and Government Academy.

One of the strategies being used at Bulkeley and JMA is known as a station rotation model.  This allows students to visit multiple centers during class time to explore different aspects of the lesson content.  For example, students might rotate between individual or small group work with a teacher, hands-on project based work or work on computers or tablets individually.  Adaptive learning software that continually adjusts to meet the skill level of the student can be used to further personalize the experience.  These software can also provide data for teachers in order to better meet the needs of learners in the next lesson.  In this model, students are able to work at their own pace as well as to make self-directed choices about their learning.  Working in a small group format enables classroom teachers to better understand their students and to develop stronger relationships with them. 

Bulkeley recently equipped a classroom in the school with special furniture that helps facilitate the station rotation model.  Chairs are on wheels and tables can be easily moved into different configurations to match the learning activity being used.  Special swivel chairs have desks attached and allow students to shift positions easily to see the teacher, visual displays on a projection screen, as well as other students during group discussions.  Individual, hand-held white boards enable to students to easily share and edit their work in a group setting.

All teachers in the school are able to sign up to utilize the blended learning room.  The only price of admission is that teachers participate in a video tutorial to learn the many ways of using the furniture to maximize student learning.  Kim Childress, Site Coordinator for the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Center of Innovation at Bulkeley used a station rotation model in her recent lesson on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Students rotated between three stations.  At the first station, students read and discussed with the teacher the "I Have a Dream" speech.  At the second station, students collaborated to create a timeline of important events in Dr. King's life and discuss key events.  At the third station, students independently listened to Dr. King speak in a video, and then demonstrated their understanding of his message in an Edmodo quiz.  Ms. Childress collaborates with other teachers at Bulkeley and JMA who are deploying new student centered approaches and learning from each other. 

Bulkeley also now holds all of its staff meetings in the room and uses a station rotation model for every meeting.  Rather than using a “sit and get” model of listening to information and updates, Bulkeley models a student centered learning approach by allowing teachers to have voice and choice over their own learning and professional development in a highly interactive format.  Congratulations Bulkeley on a great job being trailblazers in student centered learning approaches!

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