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Education

Wellington School District Redesigning How Students Are Taught

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KSDE/via Twitter
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Wellington's Kennedy Elementary teachers met with KSDE's Tammy Mitchell, the elementary school redesign specialist, last week in Topeka.

The Wellington School District is hosting a town hall Wednesday night regarding its efforts to redesign the way it serves students at two schools.

Teachers at Wellington High School and Kennedy Elementary are testing a new instructional model that includes personalized learning.

Teachers provide a daily lesson in core subjects and use a digital curriculum so students can work at their own pace. Superintendent Mark Whitener says the idea is to focus on a student’s individual needs and less on standardized testing.

"If a student already knows the content, then they are able to get back on their digital learning and continue learning at their own pace," Whitener says. "But if a student needs help, then the teacher will assign them to come to the lesson."

Whitener says the lessons are in small groups with an opportunity for one-on-one instruction.

“Teachers are still going to teach a lesson each day in the core subjects so that students have the opportunity, not only to work digitally, but to sit down with a teacher one-on-one with the content and get that help if they need that,” Whitener says.

He says another component of the redesigned instruction involves real-world projects. He says students might participate in community service or career exploration opportunities.

A team of teachers is testing and building plans now, with the redesign rollout expected next fall. Whitener says initially, students in grades 4 and 5 at the elementary and 9 and 10 at the high school will use the revamped instructional design. Other grades will use the new instructional model later.

The high school and Kennedy Elementary are the only ones in the district getting a whole school overhaul right now. The Wellington District plans to redesign all of its schools in coming years.

Whitener says by next fall, all of the district’s 1,600 students will have a district-provided computer to use in class and at home.

Wellington is one of seven districts participating in the Kansas Department of Education’s initiative to redesign public education. The KSDE launched the so-called “Moon Shot” initiative last spring.

If all goes well with the instructional redesign, the districts’ plans could become statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The seven participating districts and their schools include:

  • Coffeyville USD 445, Community Elementary School and Field Kindley Memorial High.
  • Liberal USD 480, Meadowlark Elementary School and Liberal High School.
  • McPherson USD 418, Eisenhower Elementary School and McPherson Middle School.
  • Olathe USD 233, Westview Elementary School and Santa Fe Trail Middle School.
  • Stockton USD 271, Stockton Grade School and Stockton High School.
  • Twin Valley USD 240, Tescott Elementary School and Bennington Junior-Senior High School.
  • Wellington USD 353, Kennedy Elementary School and Wellington High School.

The schools do not receive extra dollars to achieve their goals but have support from KSDE and outside education and youth groups.
The town hall meeting is on Wednesday, Jan. 17, from 7–8 p.m. at Wellington High School.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

 
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