The Art of Personalizing Learning for Students and Faculty

Contributed By

Dylan Rodgers

Content Strategy Manager and Editor in Chief of the Schoology Exchange

The Art of Personalizing Learning for Students and Faculty

Posted in Community | October 08, 2015

When you ask Brad Scherer how he uses Schoology, his excitement is obvious ... and infectious. "Schoology has allowed us to redesign and transform how our students and staff learn," he explains. "Sometimes it feels as if the creative usages for Schoology are only limited by our own imaginations."

Brad is an Instructional Technology Specialist at Sartell Middle School in Sartell, MN, a small town nestled along the northern stretch of the Mississippi River. It's in this beautiful, lush setting that Brad and his colleagues have transformed learning.

A Gamified Makerspace

They have used Schoology to digitize and gamify their library makerspace. Students opt-in to the self-paced "Learning Lab" course. Once there, they watch videos, read about topics like robots and circuitry, and take quizzes.

This is how students practice and demonstrate their understanding of important concepts before using equipment such as Spheros, Makey Makeys, littleBits, etc.

Brad and crew have also incorporated badges and achievements into the Learning Lab. Students earn badges, which they use as passes to access equipment in the future.

"This has removed the headache of managing equipment," explains Brad. "It means more time to allow kids to tinker and explore, and less time waiting on someone to show them how to use it."

Digital Citizenship Curriculum Development

The faculty at Sartell Middle School also built out a digital citizenship curriculum using Common Sense Media’s sequence and scope, Google Docs, and Schoology.

"I am super excited for all of our 1100+ students to be receiving high quality training on digital citizenship that moves beyond just cyberbullying to a full array of curriculum that has a direct impact on their lives," Brad explained. "Plus, the curriculum should be a pretty freaking good time as we tailored it to be engaging and interactive within the 1:1 iPad environment."

Personalized Professional Development

Students aren’t the only ones learning on Schoology. Sartell Middle School uses the platform to to teach their staff as well. This has allowed them to personalize the professional development (PD) they offer and even take it to the next level.

They rely on Schoology’s quiz question analytics to not only measure staff performance during PD, but to also help the instructors know how to tailor the learning.

"We are able to redirect our staff back to resources to reteach content," says Brad. "Just like our students, we want mastery for our staff, not just completion."

By adding different levels—e.g., Schoology 101, 201, 301—they hope to continue to challenge and push their staff at all ability levels.

Improving Formative Assessment for Mastery

Brad has also started to train Sartell Middle School's staff to help them implement the use of test banks when creating quizzes.

"This is an incredible game changer," Brad exclaims. "Creating randomized assessments using our own multitude of teacher generated questions to have our students achieve a satisfactory level of mastery is an EPIC win! If students need to continue learning a concept, they then re-test with a new randomized set of questions."

This allows the staff to better manage the process of mastery learning for their students and not leave them to just fail, if on the first attempt they don’t succeed.

A Catalyst for Personal and Professional Growth

When it comes to Schoology, Brad practices what he preaches. "I personally use Schoology groups and #SchoologyChat to grow professionally," he explains. "It is a great way for me to connect with like-minded individuals that I wouldn’t otherwise get to."

The Gamification group, Schoology Educators group, and their own District Staff—Leading and Learning Group are "straight cash," as Brad puts it, who says he just can't get enough of them. "The things I have gleaned," he continues "have been implemented and impact students greatly."

Brad Scherer
Instructional Technology Specialist
Sartell Middle School
Educator of the Year Finalist

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Above is a story from our weekly educator spotlight series we like to call The Art of Schoology, a celebration of all the amazing ways the Schoology Community is transforming education around the world. Share your story in 250-500 words, inspire your community, and let's learn together! It's easy. Just submit your story below.

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