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Kettle Moraine Charter ready to explore personalized learning at elementary level

Jan. 23, 2013

In its planning year, the KM Explore design team saw great things, but one difference they noticed was the shifting role of the teacher. It wasn't so much teaching to the students as guiding and coaching students as they personalized their learning around their interests.

If a student is interested in karate, that child could do research, reading and writing based on karate, explained KM Explore Director Laura Dahm at the Jan. 15 school board meeting. The way the student connects with learning is through a personalized subject.

According to the Kettle Moraine School District website: "KM Explore will involve students in the design of a different kind of school. By being multi-age in structure, community-based in function, and integrated in its curriculum design, KM Explore students will provide evidence of learning in a manner that is meaningful to them.

"A fluid and adaptable schedule will remove traditional boundaries of learning. Integrated curriculum design, the creative process, and high level questioning will be woven throughout the learning experience. The fundamentals of reading, writing, and math are foundational to this generative curriculum as they are embedded and integrated into the day-to-day work."

Dahm, the KM Explore planning team, and KMSD Superintendent Pat Deklotz will host the last of three parent information nights at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Magee Elementary in the staff room. The meeting is to review KM Explore's mission, 2013-14 planning and implementation activities, as well as answer parent questions.

KM Explore

The mission of KM Explore is to "engage a community of learners through authentic learning experiences by empowering them to be self- motivated thinkers, creators, and collaborators."

Although as a charter school KM Explore will be a district-wide, kindergarten-through-fifth grade-school, Explore will be housed inside Wales Elementary, however, a shuttle service would transport students from the other three elementary schools in the district.

"It's a compromise that works for having a district-wide charter school," explained Deklotz. "It didn't seem advisable to have parents drive since it would cause traffic congestion."

Students outside of KMSD who are interested in KM Explore must open enroll in the district during the open enrollment period from Feb. 4 through April 30. Once accepted to KM schools, students could then apply to KM Explore.

Maximum enrollment for the 2013-14 school year is 130 students with a lottery process used if the enrollment cap is reached for the year, according to the executive summary.

Explore belief statements listed in the executive summary cites deep learning as life-long and personal with "customized learner results" achieved from that personalized approach, said School Board President Gary Vose.

Building blocks

Five building blocks form the foundation for KM Explore: generative, interdisciplinary curriculum, multi-age learning community, habits of mind, optimal learning spaces and collaborative teaching and learning, according to the Explore website.

Students learn as a continuous process compared to segmented learning broken up into short time periods. Content area standards, fine arts targets, physical education, and social development will be integrated into the curriculum. Personalized learning plans will be developed for all students which will hold them accountable to standards while still allowing them to choose how and when learning targets are met.

Recognizing how to be a mindful and productive member of a community will be one of the cornerstones at Explore as students work together, drawing on each other's capabilities to help further their own learning in an atmosphere not limited by grade-level curriculum.

Students will discover habits such as persistence, managing impulsive behavior, thinking flexibly, innovating, posing problems and planning ways to find solutions that help them learn in order to become life-long learners.

Using an "anytime/anywhere" approach to learning allows education to become a way of life that is not confined to the school day. A place-based curriculum provides learning in the local community and allows the community to be part of learning.

School space will be designed to provide areas where productivity, collaboration and real-life learning can occur with flexible seating arrangements dependent on the learning needs of each student.

Explore students will be asked to collaborate to meet learning goals, therefore, teachers will also practice and model collaboration as a teaching system. Teachers will work together as a team rather than a single entity.

"Having multiple teachers with unique skill sets will increase the likelihood that every child will reach his or her fullest potential," the charter executive summary states.

More info

Information is available on the district's website, www.kmsd.edu/kmexplore or under the top tab "PARENTS" and on each elementary school webpage under Parent Resources (left-hand quick link). Parents who are unable to attend any of the parent information nights can send questions about KM Explore to Director Laura Dahm at dahml@kmsd.edu.

info meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 29

Where: Magee Elementary staff room

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