Sunday, December 18, 2016

Personalized Learning at Weller Elementary School (Milpitas, CA) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Personalized Learning at Weller Elementary School (Milpitas, CA) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

Personalized Learning at Weller Elementary School (Milpitas, CA)


In the Spring of 2012, teachers at Weller Elementary School, along with other schools in the Milpitas Unified School District, presented blueprints for re-designing their schools to Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, his top deputies, and the teachers’ union. The Superintendent’s group chose Weller’s  redesign for its school as one of two pilots for “blended” and “personalized learning” to be put into place using rotation of upper-grade students through the Learning Lab for a few hours a week and for the lower grades, in-class rotation of activities, including online software, supervised by the teacher. Soon after, Milpitas voters approved a bond referendum that produced funds for building new schools, remodeling older ones, and buying new technologies for teachers and students to use.
All of this occurred during the tenure of Weller principal, Raquel Kusunoki.
As a young child, she and her family immigrated from the Philippines to the Bay area. Kusunoke eventually became a credentialed teacher. She has been the Weller principal for four years after serving as assistant principal at the school and then teaching  for 13 years in San Jose Unified District elementary schools. As she told me about her years at Weller, “my umbilical cord is connected here.”
With nearly 450 students (K-6), Weller has a diverse cultural mix. Sixty percent of the students are Asian (including Filipino), 29 percent are Latino, four percent are African American and four percent are white (2015). Of that enrollment, 44 percent are English Language Learners and 47 percent are eligible for free and reduced price lunch–the poverty indicator.
On October 19, 2016, I spent the morning at Weller interviewing the principal, observing  two teachers’ lessons, and then meeting with a group of 6th graders and five teachers who have been closely involved in Weller’s “blended learning” design.
I first went to Richard Hart’s combined 5th and 6th grade class. While they have access to the Learning Lab at scheduled times, when in their classroom, Hart’s Personalized Learning at Weller Elementary School (Milpitas, CA) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice:

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