Inside Lakota Learning
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The Lakota learning experience is one filled with inquiry, innovation and discovery. Every student's learning style, passions and interests are different, which is why the experience of one student will never be exactly that of another. It's why Lakota teachers and support staff are committed to student-centered learning and providing a personalized approach marked by differentiated teaching methods. 

Let the Lakota Learning Team explain what that means and how that goal plays out on a daily basis in our classrooms. Through this blog, they'll guide parents and community members through the strategy behind Lakota's student-centered curriculum and how different methods meet students' educational needs. And because learning doesn't stop at school, they'll provide tips and strategies for how to be partners in the learning process and create a positive learning environment at home. 

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At Lakota, personalized learning is tailoring the instructional environment to address the individual needs, skills, and interests of the whole child, while developing a deep, personal connection to maximize student ownership of learning.

This is how we have defined "Personalized Learning" for Lakota in our strategic plan.  While we are thrilled about starting this school year with a clear direction, it is hard to always understand what that looks like in my classroom, or my child’s classroom, and how it may look different in kindergarten or band or chemistry.  

As we re-launch the Lakota Learning Blog, we want to share some examples of what Personalized Learning looks like across the #WEareLakota community. Keep sharing your own experiences with personalized learning by using #WEarePersonalized on social media.

Early Childhood Schools

First-graders in Mrs. Ruiz’s class at Hopewell ECS are working on creating the classroom environment and tools together. This will increase the students’ feelings of ownership and representation in the space, which sets the stage for personalized learning.

Student writing on an easel

Kindergarten students in Christa MacFarlane’s room at Liberty ECS are already doing station rotations as a way to give students choice while getting the opportunity to meet with the teacher in small groups.  

At Shawnee ECS, Mrs. Streit met with small groups of students to provide instruction and support as they practiced creating patterns with blocks. 

Mrs. Hickey’s first-graders at Hopewell ECS are given the opportunity to choose a place in the room and the type of seating where they can learn best. Students also have the opportunity to work in partnerships. allowing them to get feedback and support from one another. 

Elementary Schools

Diane Meyers' fifth-graders at Adena are already utilizing an in-class flipped model!

Students participating in flipped classroom

Kelly Scarbrough’s third-graders reviewed place value using station rotations.  They used task cards and iPads in their rotations and worked with different students to continue building classroom community while they learned.  

Kelly Scarbrough’s third graders reviewed place value using station rotations.

Fifth-graders at Endeavor kicked off the school year with Project-Based Learning bootcamp. Their teachers led the way with a different focus each day. Here are some examples of the way their newest “recruits” practiced collaboration and innovation.  

Junior Schools

Seventh grade science students at Ridge Junior are researching science-based careers. They are hosting a career fair next week with the career of their choice, and they can use any medium to present or display for the career fair. 

Teachers at Ridge Junior are personalizing Curriculum Night for parents. They are using a free flow/choice model along with digital tools (QR codes, videos, etc.) to allow parents to get the information they need in a variety of ways.  

Students at Ridge are using RISE time to explore who they are and how they fit into the community. Students will be spending the first quarter exploring who they are and preparing for a building-wide showcase titled, “Who WE Are.”  RISE time activities this year are focused on these core ideals: Realize, Innovate, Serve, and Empower. This is a personalized approach to allowing choice learning in these areas. 

Mrs. Parks, Mr. Schlensker, Mr. Dollard, and Mr. Bauer at Hopewell Junior are trying out Mastery Paths in Canvas to personalize learning.  They are building and testing to see what is the best format for learning. 

students huddled around table with laptopsRachel Howard (eighth grade science) and Jocelyn Ford (eighth grade language arts) at Liberty Junior began the school year working with their team of students to build and improve their community. They spent the first week diving deep into empathy, communication, collaboration and risk-taking and now the students are self-evaluating to determine how they can use their strengths to contribute to their community, ensuring the team has a successful school year. They are working individually or in small groups to create a product of their choice (podcast, commercial, service project, TED talk, etc.) that demonstrates how to help move their community forward.

Teacher Aaron Nunley displayed as a bitmojiMath teacher and gifted intervention specialist Aaron Nunley at Plains Junior has created his own YouTube Channel. He shares, “Students who are in class, but lack clarity on the concepts are able to go back and review the lesson a second time at home.  Parents can also view the lesson and develop a better understanding of how to help their student. Personalized learning has also had a benefit in terms of student relationships. They love to give me tips on how to improve my videos and keep me up-to-date on the latest trends and norms. I even had a handful of students do a special series on functions called “students teach” where they created their own videos explaining how to work with a particular type of function.” Mr. Nunley hopes to create professional development for teachers in the same way in the future.

High Schools

East honors chemistry teacher, Mrs. Gosky, Mr. Severns, and Mr. Mason, will begin their year-long murder mystery, The Case of Mrs. Gosky. They will be applying the skills and content learned throughout each unit to gather evidence and eventually convict who is responsible for the demise of Mrs. Gosky. 

East Sophomores began their year with a flexible playlist at the Sophomore Experience night.  Families selected from a menu of options. Some took a guided tour of the building with our Hawk Ambassadors, while others meandered through the halls at their own pace. Families could listen to a live presentation from our student panel and principal or later watch the recorded version when convenient. Students traveled down Main Street to learn about the many club offerings and scanned QR codes to connect to digital resources.

For the college Common App Essay, Mrs. Wilkerson’s students picked from the choices if their college is on the Common App. If their college is not, then they write the essay for that school. If students are interested in the military, they research the branch, requirements for each branch, ASVAB, and jobs. If students want to work or own a business, they research that employment outlook, training needed, expectancy , etc. In the end, they are still writing an essay about themselves that will prepare them for life after Lakota East.

Mr. Ian Brown’s Biology students at West have started off the year creating blogs and podcasts. The students are learning the technology to help connect the content with their everyday lives. The podcasts and blogs will also serve as tools to review content and start discussions among their peers.  We look forward to seeing the collaboration and learning these tools will provide as the year proceeds.  

West Freshman has begun a new Humanities Lab, which combines English 9 and World History classes meeting in a double block.  Mrs. Cathy Bella and Mrs. Jen Parrett are combining the concepts and skills of both disciplines and seeking connections across curriculum.  World history concepts are being taught in reverse order to gain perspective on how we came to be in our current geopolitical alignment.

Several teachers at West are using flexible playlists to enhance student ownership of their learning and to provide instruction that meets the needs of each student. Mrs. Jenny Circello, geometry teacher, is creating 10-minute instructional videos that allow her students to work at their own pace through videos, lessons, and activities, taking assessments when they are ready. Chemistry teacher Mr. Jon Corum and Spanish teacher Mrs. Tricia Becker report that similar models are allowing them more time during class to engage students more actively into the application and higher level thinking of the content. Teachers have shared that students are doing well and that they have received a lot of positive feedback from both students and parents.  


Authored by Lakota's assistant directors of instruction: Emily Hermann, Regina Kirchner, Deana Moss, Lauren Webb and Justin Wilson. 

Posted by  On Sep 03, 2019 at 3:44 PM

As we prepare to roll out Chromebook devices to all of our ninth through eleventh grade students, it is so important to focus on why we are doing this in Lakota and how it supports our new Strategic Plan. We could not be more excited to support this work and help all of our students succeed.

Being Future-Ready - To prepare our students for their future careers, many of which don’t yet exist, we are committed to providing the technology skills they will need to support their endeavors. Current studies identify that companies seek employees who can communicate effectively, think critically, work collaboratively and leverage technology successfully. At Lakota, we are empowering our students by putting the right tools in their hands so they may develop the skills critical to future success.  

But, is that really why technology is important to us?  Not entirely.

A Personalized Learning Culture - The driving “why” behind our integration is that we are dedicated to creating a personalized learning culture, meeting all students where they are in their learning journey while encouraging student voice and choice throughout the process. Teachers are continuously pursuing ways to boost student engagement. In education, student engagement is defined as “the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught.”  Across the district, we are working to place students at the center of the learning as a means of improving learning. Technology is part of the lesson design experience that is a catalyst to meet this challenge.

And while our teachers are committed to student learning, we also know that our students need the opportunity to create, to show their learning progress, and to have their ideas validated and celebrated. In support of the 1:1 initiative, junior high and high school media centers have been transformed into Innovation Hubs for this exact reason. These collaborative learning spaces allow students to explore varied forms of media, demonstrate and share their learning with authentic audiences in innovative ways and create new, deeper learning for themselves. This is again why giving our students technology opportunities is so important to us.

Ultimately, we are leading with learning and the learning is driving our use of technology for the teachers who are designing learning experiences, for the students who need to innovate and for better equipping all students for a future that has yet to be imagined.

Heidi Adams Innovation Specialist Michelle Miranda Innovation SpecialistHeidi Adams (left) and Michelle Miranda (right) are innovations specialists at Hopewell Junior and Lakota East Freshman schools, respectively, helping empower staff and students to use technology as a tool for more personalized and engaged learning experiences. 

Posted by  On Jan 04, 2019 at 2:29 PM