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What should an elementary student know? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 December 2017 08:16

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Meadowlark Elementary looks to reinvent the educational process



ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of the story recapping what was presented about the Kansans CAN redesign project at a recent breakfast event and will cover the plans for Meadowlark Elementary School. The final part will cover the plans for Liberal High School. 

Meadowlark Elementary School was one of the two USD 480 schools chosen for the Kansan CAN redesign project and has several plans for the school for the project. After being introduced by Meadowlark Principal Shawna Evans, two of the main staff members working on the redesign shared goals for the project. 

“When we started to develop our plan, one of the things we did was come up with a mission statement, and our mission statement is ‘Meadowlark Elementary: Students Will Reach Their Dreams,’” Meadowlark Instructional Coach Lyn Day began. “You think those words as being kind of simple but then as we got deeper and deeper in the process, we discovered it was a lot more complex. Dr. Watson, when he talked about the skills and knowledge a 24-year-old should have to be successful, we had to take a step back and ask ‘What does that mean for an elementary school?’ Our students aren’t 24 years old. So we then asked what would we expect a 5th grader about to leave our school, what knowledge and skills should they have? We gathered our teachers together and we made a list of things we felt our 5th graders should.”

That list created, Day continued, was a rather large one, with several items on the list dealing with social skills and emotional skills. Academics were also part of the conversation, but not the majority of it, she said. 

“Over time, with our teachers, we have talked about how our role as a teacher has changed somewhat,” Day said. “It used to be those things were learned at home but now, a lot of our students have both parents who are working, so those skills really aren’t being taught at home. We also have to meet the basic needs of the students so they can start learning, like are they going to get food and be able to eat? Do they have a roof over their heads? We have to make sure those basic needs are met. With that, we then had to ask ourselves how do we meet the needs of our students and help them continue to learn? So we got to the part where we got to that list and then really broke it apart and one of the things we felt we really had to have is we have to develop that nurturing community in our schools and have our parents and families feel like they can go into the community and have support whenever they need it. Something else we talked about is some of our students have never been outside the city so their experiences are very limited and we have to be creative and find ways to get our students experiences so they know what the possibilities are for the future.”

And may things are already happening at Meadowlark along that route, Day said. 

“People in the community have already begun coming into our schools,” Day said. “Tuesday mornings, we have TWISTed Tuesdays, and that stands for Totally Wild Inventive Student Time and the community is coming in and giving the students some really cool experiences. We’ve had the fire trucks come through, we’ve had the police department come, the Parks and Recreation department has been there, things like that. There’s already some things we’re doing to reach out to the community and give it a better feel for everyone.”

Meadowlark Interventionist Jennifer Hyde then spoke to the crowd about personalized learning. Overall, Hyde said, the goal of personalize learning is to help connect students’ interests with their education and reach the students through academic and non-academic pursuits.

“This is also known as blended learning or maybe even one-to-one technology for our students,” Hyde said. “Everyone’s been talking about what the community wanted from our students like some of those soft skills, some of those emotional skills, being able to think critically. Personalized learning is student-centered learning, it’s taking the individual learner and looking at what that student needs. You’re also taking into account their interests and in order for them to have interests, they have to have experiences. Personalized learning helps the learner be able to think critically, we want to teach them how to solve problems and work collaboratively with their peers. We also want them to communicate better and learn how to learn. It kind of goes back to what Jay [Scott] said this morning about college – a student might be really book smart and able to play school really well, but do they know how to work well with others? Do they know how to problem solve? Do they know how to manage their time? Personalized learning is different for every learner and through research, we’ve found a lot of things that can help us with that and help us be able to reach every single student. We’ve known for years that we’ve tried to reach every single student but when you have 25 students, it’s hard to reach every student and make sure they can reach their potential.”

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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