As a district we decided that our old model of instruction was not benefiting all our students. We are getting to a point where blended learning is just regular instruction now and moving toward a student-centered learning approach, where the teacher becomes a coach.
Our biggest challenges included full staff buy-in along with student buy-in toward a new model of teaching and learning. Teachers and students were trained in a different way, and moving out of a comfort zone is sometimes hard. We had professional development with Jon Bergmann-flipped guru, we trained staff and also did grassroots training, where teachers would seek out other teachers. We also had students run professional development.
Do not use a top down approach when considering blended-learning programs; teachers and students need to be brought into the conversation together when it is just the idea phase.
Platt High School demonstrates leadership in social media integration, teaching students to leverage social media tools such as Twitter as resources for learning rather than distractions. In social studies classes, students explore topics such as the effect of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder on U.S. veterans, or current news events that peak their interest for class discussion. Outside of class, students hold regular Twitter chats during important current events such as presidential debates, connecting them with other teachers and even local journalists who enjoy chiming in to their conversation. These creative lesson plans even extend on to the classroom floor, where students have used their iPads to immerse themselves into the Italian Renaissance, recreating Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Ceiling while lying underneath their desks.
Platt High School also excels in personalized learning, giving students the opportunity to design their own studies with the support of an advisor or teacher to monitor the work. These classes, called Personalized Learning Experiences (PLE) meet outside of the school day and encourage students to take ownership over their learning. One example is a self-directed play written, directed and organized entirely by students and performed in front of the school. Another includes a PLE in which students partnered with a construction company working on renovations in our own school to learn more about architectural planning, development and construction.
Located in Meriden, CT, O.H. Platt High School serves over 1,100 students in a student-centered, blended learning environment. In 2014 after a series of pilot programs, the Meriden Public School District fully integrated a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy into its high schools, with Platt incorporating a 1:1 tablet program for students. After investing in professional development for teachers and staff and developing curriculums which support blended learning and multiple pathways for student success, Platt High School has increased its graduation rate by 7 percent over the past five years.
Contact: James Flynn
Contact Title: Social Studies Department Chair
Orville H. Platt High School
220 Coe Ave