The personalized learning program at Akili Academy began in 2014 and has strengthened the school’s ability to engage scholars at their unique level of academic achievement and challenge them at the appropriate pace. Personalized learning is an approach that uses diverse instructional methods, as well as technology, to meet student needs. This academic year, all Akili students in first through eighth grade are engaged in some aspect of personalized learning, and Akili was recently awarded $195,000 from the Louisiana Department of Education to support its efforts to provide scholars with personalized learning opportunities.
Although a typical day for a student engaged in personalized learning will vary, it involves moving students through various stations designed to help each scholar learn at the level that best fits him/her. These stations generally fall into the categories of independent learning time, small group instruction, and whole class instruction. Students may start their morning with a reading test at a computer in the classroom and then select a new book to read independently before moving on to the whole class lesson. At the close of the class lesson, scholars may then move to the teacher-led small group instruction table. There the scholar will work closely with the teacher and three to four other scholars to build a conceptual understanding of the lesson being taught that week. If the student struggles with a particular subject or skill, a teacher comes to provide one-on-one guidance and assistance until the student is able to complete grade level work. Scholars are also involved in a five-week rotation of enrichment classes that expose students to visual arts, music, and sports.
“Personalized learning has allowed us to remediate students who are struggling below grade level and also push scholars at grade level to even higher levels of achievement,” said Mary Carlton, Akili’s Director of Expanded Learning. “By using a combination of whole group instruction, personalized learning software, and small groups we are able to meet each student where they are and ensure that they are on the path to college.”