Autumn’s high aspirations are the expectation - not the exception - at RePublic. Our oldest scholars, many of whom graduated from a RePublic middle school, will be applying for college next year and they share Autumn’s sky-high goals for future achievement. For these scholars, we must continue to inspire them to pursue their passion while equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in college and in life.
To bridge the gap between the classroom experience and the real world, RePublic has designed, created, and launched a personalized learning platform and curriculum that is currently reimagining the high school experience for scholars at RePublic High School.
Leading scholars through this experience is Namita Manohar, the teacher for RePublic's personalized learning platform. This is Ms. Manohar’s second year of teaching personalized learning, a method designed to tailor curriculum to student interest and specific academic needs. “Facilitating a personalized learning classroom is such a… well… personalized experience,” says Manohar. “Instead of trying to craft the ‘perfect lesson plan,’ you’re thinking about different groups of students and how best to help scholars [like Autumn] with what they need to be successful.”
Personalized Learning is the philosophy and practice of tailoring student curricular experience, learning space, pace, and feedback to their wants, needs, and skills. At RePublic, we believe that strong personalized learning is a function of strong teaching. We supplement that teaching with curricular tools and a software platform that allows scholars to choose lessons, set goals, and build projects with real-world connections. But, in the end, these are tools designed to achieve what we expect for all scholars in our classrooms -- a learning experience that is tailored to allow each scholar to master and fall in love with the content.
Last spring, RePublic Schools partnered with the Carnegie Corporation to pilot personalized learning through a high school computer science curriculum . For this pilot, RePublic’s instructional and software teams created an innovative online platform to house curriculum, analyze data, and provide feedback for students like Autumn. They also built a new curriculum that allows students to pick what topics they want to focus on in class and what projects they want to build.
As the personalized learning teacher, Ms. Manohar is a facilitator and provider of feedback. She will provide feedback to scholars on their work, guide them to the correct research, and help shape their exploration of a topic. "These are the skills any professional or adult must use when they are in a professional setting,” says Craig Meister, who designs the RePublic personalized learning computer science curriculum. As a feedback-oriented teacher, Ms. Manohar can keep Autumn’s eyes on the outcomes of her class instead of the “prescribed pathway” dictated by the unit progression.
Autumn has the freedom to choose her preferred topic, work with a student partner, or request time with Ms. Manohar during a mini-lesson on certain subjects. She will reflect on her progress with her teacher on a weekly basis. By constantly reflecting on her progress, Autumn will build up her skills not only in computer science but also in problem solving and goal setting.
In partnership with Carnegie, RePublic plans to incorporate personalized learning into a number of classes at RePublic High School, including English, History, Math, Latin, and Computer Science. In future years, RePublic plans to expand the unique personalized learning program across both our middle schools and to partner schools across the south, similar to the groundbreaking partnership with MNPS.
Autumn, for one, is already recognizing the importance of collegiality and teamwork. “Instead of learning in a lecture-based style,” she says, “personalized learning gives my classmates and me a chance to learn from each other.” In a few years, when Autumn is researching the next-level space exploration at NASA, RePublic is confident that she is not only going to tackle problems unconceivable to our current understanding of the universe, but she is also going to be an asset to her teammates, colleagues, and community.
Ms. Manohar sees the direct impact that personalized learning techniques have on her scholars' journey to college. "Scholars are learning the values of independence and curiosity that will allow them to be successful in the classes they take in college. They are learning how to gain information on their own and from their peers, and by asking for help from the teacher or professor they will one day have in college."