21st Century Skills / For Legislators / For School Leaders / Student Centered Learning

“Learning for a purpose is deeper and longer lasting,” says charter CEO Kim Carter

At Making Community Connections Charter Schools (MC2) in Manchester and Keene, students are put in the driver’s seat of their learning experience. In a piece authored by The Hetchinger Report, Kim Carter–former NH Teacher of the Year and MC2’s Chief Education Officer–explains how personalized learning motivates students and prepares them for life after graduation. 

Carter explains that teachers and school leaders at MC2 work with students, parents, and community partners to design challenging learning experiences for students. Students get hands-on educational opportunities through field-based assignments like volunteering at a local animal shelter. They also engage in project-based assignments, like designing solutions for a community obstacle.

This is what personalized learning looks like. It’s not a one-size-fits-all model, it is customized to leverage each student’s strengths and needs. Personalized learning also allows students to integrate their interests and passions into their work. This is an approach many NH public schools are taking, too. More schools are personalizing their classrooms and seeing the difference when students are empowered, invested, and engaged.

On their standards and competencies, Carter says this:

Learning is always personal, and we each have a drive to be of significance. MC2’s academic competencies are designed to facilitate, encourage and ultimately require co-created applications of learning. Checklists of competencies hold high standards for student expectations while building in flexibility for how, when, where and why students learn and apply their learning.

MC2 and many NH public schools share this fundamental value: students who are invested in their personalized learning experience learn at a deeper level and retain knowlege at higher rates. Teachers help students identify gaps in knowledge and skills and work to build on them. The progression of their learning isn’t tied to the average student or rigid lesson plan–if a student needs extra practice, he gets it. If she masters a skill faster than others in the class, she moves onto a more challenging task. It’s not stagnant or irrelevant; it’s dynamic, rigorous, and evolving.

In these 21st Century environments, students are held accountable for their own learning:

Families also participate in their student’s quarterly Exhibition of Learning, during which the student reports and defends his or her  learning and progress over the duration of the quarter. These student-led presentations coach student voice and self-advocacy, with the family partnering in the assessment and goal-setting processes, negotiating expectations to balance student motivation with the appropriate level of challenge.

Take a look at this video of a student-led presentation where Pittsfield Middle High School uses student-led conferences to give students a chance to reflect on their learning with parents, teachers, and advisers:

MC2’s mission is to “enable each individual to become empowered with the knowledge and skills to use his or her voice effectively and with integrity in co-creating our public global world.” And personalized learning creates the right learning environment for it.

Read the full article here.


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