Individuals and Societies teachers are using self-paced learning, a new teaching approach built to accommodate the learning needs, capabilities and time availability of students.
Teachers give all assignments at the beginning of the quarter, and one due date is set for the quarter’s end. Students learn by completing those assignments in class instead of receiving direct instruction. It has been implemented in half of all Global Studies classes, a freshman history class.
Since Aug., Global Studies teachers Victoria Berndt, Amanda Ersek, Kyle Fleming and Andrew Glasier have worked together on adopting a self-paced model adapted from the Modern Classrooms Project. Individuals and Societies teachers Matthew Ferraton and Yvonne Horstman have also begun using their own versions recently.
The new model is beneficial for students, according to Ersek, who thinks it may ease the transition to deleveled classes. “With delevelled classes, you have so many different levels of kids in one classroom — which is awesome — but you have to be able to accommodate that,” Ersek said. “All of my kids have said that there’s just not as much stress or the feeling of being rushed. There’s already enough stress in our lives and this is one way we can try to allow kids the space and the grace that they need.”
According to Berndt, self-paced learning can make classes easier to manage for teachers too, “It’s almost instantaneous grading and instantaneous feedback. I have not graded a single assignment outside of my class period.”
Some students are skeptical of this new learning model. “Self-paced learning limits students’ capabilities to collaborate, seek assistance, and prioritize work,” freshman Naran Khoury said.
However, some students have found it to be a beneficial change. “It provides more opportunities than a normal class. Like, getting work done at your pace without having to wait for a whole class,” freshman Jade Talley wrote.
According to Ersek, it may take a while for the high school to get used to self-paced learning. “For most of the teachers here, it’s a new kind of format of teaching and instruction, and for students as well – most students I know haven’t had a self-paced class before,” Ersek said. “It’s a growing process.”