Three Schools That Built A Personalized Learning Experience from the Ground Up

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past 19 years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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Many folks in the Learning Personalized community want a window into what personalized learning looks like at a classroom and building level. I continue to curate powerful examples of courageous and thoughtful educators who imagine and act on possibilities with their students.

But what if you were imagining a school from the ground up to create a personalized learning experience?

Today we are featuring three schools that did just that: each created a vision, related structures, practices, and policies to put students at the center.

Da Vinci Schools

The mission of Da Vinci Schools is “to provide students with a real world, project-based, college preparatory curriculum.”

Businesses work with teachers and students to develop real world learning partnerships and on-the-job skills through a number of avenues such as: virtual projects and other classroom collaborations, work experience electives, and paid and unpaid internships. Students are required to complete 10 hours of volunteer work per semester, engaging in projects that serve the community.

Acton Academy

At Acton Academy, students embark on their “hero’s journey” to find their special calling in life as they prepare to change the world. Working at their own pace, they are supported by adult guides (one child describes them as guardrails) and running partners — classmates who meet together regularly to set goals and hold each other accountable for them. Older students take on apprenticeships and launch real startups and real world projects.

Science Leadership Academy

The Science Leadership Academy is a project-based partnership high school between the School District of Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute. With a focus on 21st century learning, the school’s core values are inquiry, research, collaboration, presentation and reflection.

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