On day one of math class, about one-third of school students are ready to master grade-level standards while others aren’t yet able to complete basic skills. Indeed, it’s not uncommon that students’ abilities span not just one grade level, but several grade levels. And while whole-class instruction may meet the needs of some students, more often than not, it leaves out many more students than it helps. An effective way to tackle the challenge of teaching core academics to all students across ability levels is to implement a personalized approach supported by a variety of carefully chosen digital resources.
In the Putnam County (TN) School System— a rural school district with 23 schools spread across 400 miles—our personalized learning approach has allowed us to reshape education for students on a variety of fronts. In the past several years, we have implemented a number of district-wide initiatives to support personalization and differentiation for students including the launch of our Virtual Instruction to Accentuate Learning (VITAL) program in 2008. Highlights of VITAL include a virtual homeschool, blended and online learning across every one of our schools, course recovery to ensure students stay on track to graduate, and course acceleration—all with the goal of preparing students to be future ready.
Lance Key is instructional technology specialist for the Putnam County (TN) School System and a member of the Putnam County VITAL program. Selected as the 2016-2017 VITAL Teacher of the Year, Key has taught math for 13 years (from 6th grade math to AP Calculus) and has been using the blended/flipped model in his classroom for the past nine years. He will present several sessions at FETC in January, including Increase Student Engagement with Interactive Design. Connect with Key on Twitter at @lancerkey.