Thursday, May 26, 2022

The initial program “personalizes” learning

OBSERVER Photo by Anthony Dolce Fredonia Elementary Principal Mark Drollinger (right) talks to the Fredonia Board of Education and other administrators at this month’s board meeting.

ANTHONY DOLCE

adolce@observertoday.com

Fredonia’s administration recently announced a new elementary school curriculum known as i-Ready.

Fredonia Superintendent Dr. Bradley Zilliox said Fredonia’s goals include more work with students on a one-to-one basis, a dramatic change from when he began teaching in the 1980s and 90s.

“I was the teacher who planned the lesson” Dr. Zilliox said. “I didn’t take into account the different skill sets of the kids that were in my class at the time. The students had to understand this lesson and achieve the goals. Over time, we began to understand the importance of who was in the classroom, both students and people.”

The i-Ready program has been running in the district for the past few years, and when elementary school principal Mark Drollinger first visited the school three years ago, some teachers used the program. But last year there was an i-Ready boom at Fredonia Elementary School.

“We had the opportunity to test this on a selective basis,” Drollinger said. “We had about 60-70 percent of our teachers piloting this program. We did a pilot project throughout the year, did some diagnostics and decided that we liked the program, we saw an increase in the number of our students, and this made my work more effective.

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We decided we would try.”

Drollinger said this year is the first year of full implementation, with all elementary students using the i-Ready program. What i-Ready is all about is an online reading program that adapts to the needs of each individual student using it.

“Cookie-shaping lessons don’t help anymore” Drollinger said. “The diagnostic program helps us understand the needs of each child and then personalizes the learning experience. Each student first goes through diagnostics, it determines the needs, then individualizes the lesson for each student.”

From there, the program tracks student progress. If a student fails, the program notifies the appropriate teacher, then the teacher can give the student some corrective lessons to help them.

i-Ready diagnostics are performed through an adaptive assessment that takes place at the beginning, middle and end of each year. The assessment lasts 45 minutes and continues the trend of being personalized for each student. If the student begins to answer questions easily, the computer will recognize this and make the questions more difficult if necessary.

“By the end of the test, each student takes a unique test, but the diagnostic tells the teacher what skills each student needs,” Drollinger said. “This program is helpful for teachers because it tells teachers what they need.”

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The program breaks down six different categories of phonological awareness, phonetics, high-frequency words, vocabulary, literary comprehension, and informational text comprehension. Each domain has hundreds of lessons that you can complete on your computer or print and complete as a group.

Children participate for a minimum of 40 minutes per week, three large assessments, then two large assessments, called growth measures, between large assessments. Drollinger noted that teachers were trained by BOCES, where they became familiar with the program.

i-Ready is currently used for reading in elementary school, which also has an option for a math program. The math program is currently in use at the high school, which Drollinger said could be featured at an upcoming Fredonia School Board meeting.

Weighing the value added to a student’s lesson is what Zilliox values ​​about the i-Ready program. “A lot of research has been done on value added” Zilliox said. “During the 10 months that I spent with a student as a teacher, what value did I bring to his academic life? And with i-Ready, it’s very clear when they start classes with a particular teacher. … We can easily see the impact of this instruction and this teacher on the student based on the assessment at the beginning, middle and end of the year.”

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