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Fri, Nov. 22

iChoose Academy begins preparations for next school year

A student works with a teacher in the iChoose Academy at Humboldt Unified School District. (HUSD/Courtesy)

A student works with a teacher in the iChoose Academy at Humboldt Unified School District. (HUSD/Courtesy)

The Humboldt Unified School District has been focused on reshaping the educational experience for their students over the past four years. This focus has typically been centered around what we call 21st century skills. In education circles, these are commonly labeled as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.

Coyote Springs Elementary was the first school in the district to take the bold approach of integrating content mastery with these skills. Coyote Springs Principal Candice Stump led this charge saying, “The reality is that content mastery and 21st century skills should not be viewed as mutually exclusive outcomes. Content mastery should be achieved, and enhanced, through the introduction of and focus on 21st century skills embedded within our core content classes.” These skills are at the core of learning that transfers into college and career success. The early and continued work at Coyote Springs has influenced the scaling of these practices across the district.

The 2018-2019 school year saw the introduction of the iChoose Academy at Glassford Hill Middle School. The iChoose Academy is a transformational school model focused on personalized learning. Through the utilization of digital learning tools and relevant, project-based instructional approaches, the academy personalizes education by addressing the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students. Superintendent Dan Streeter explained the need to push forward with an updated model of education. “This is our acknowledgement that rather than a one size fits all approach, we need an educational system that is built on the understanding that learning is personal and a system that provides the flexibility to engage our students where they are rather than where the lesson, curriculum, or pacing guide assumes they should be,” Streeter said. The iChoose Academy is designed to serve as a model for transformation and expansion in the future.

The iChoose Academy is a unique model that currently has 89 students in seventh and eighth grades. There are four teachers who work in a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment to provide personalized instruction in the core content areas of math, science, social studies, and English Language Arts. Jarred Maddox, iChoose coordinator, described this unique environment, “As much as we are redefining the student learning experience, we are also redefining what the teaching experience looks like.” One of the strengths of the model is the ability of the teachers to build relationships with their students as well as create authentic learning experience that cross curricular lines.

While iChoose is still early in its journey, the excitement is continuing to grow and the district is anxious to see end of year assessment results. Over 140 applications have been received for the 100 seats available for next year. The focus continues to be on refining the personalization model, but plans for expansion are being discussed for the future. For more information, community members can reach out to Assistant Superintendent, Cole Young at 928-759-4000.

Information provided by Humboldt Unified School District.

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