Some Freeport students responding well to new teaching - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Some Freeport students responding well to new teaching strategies

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CES 3rd grade teacher Angela Kent CES 3rd grade teacher Angela Kent
CES 2nd grade teacher Jill Engelbrecht CES 2nd grade teacher Jill Engelbrecht

Big changes could be in Freeport School District's future. A new teaching system might help kids' performance and some educators are getting an early start implementing strategies.

For the last few months, Freeport elementary teachers are have been trying out a personalized mastery system, helping kids learn at their own pace.

"The whole idea of it sounds really good. There are still things we're trying to figure out." -says Center Elementary School 3rd grade teacher Angela Kent.

Teachers and students get familiar with personalized mastery through choice boards. Whether it's math, reading, science or social studies, the areas marked by red boxes, or "have-to-do's," teach kids lesson concepts. They get as much time as they need to learn those. Then the green boxes, "get-to-do's," describe ways students can show teachers they've mastered lessons, in the mode that best works for the student. Kids get to pick what green box or boxes they want to complete.

"They can show us through a project, they can show us through a play, they can write a song, they can write a book." -says Center Elementary School 2nd grade teacher Jill Engelbrecht.

These starting strategies are already evolving Freeport classrooms.

"I've seen my kids teaching each other, I've seen more excitement." -says Kent.

Depending on how well students grasp lessons, they're titled 'Novice,' 'Apprentice,' 'Practitioner' or 'Expert.'

"Expert means 'I can understand it well and I could thoroughly teach it to someone else.'" -explains Center Elementary School 4th grader Amber Long.

Amber's a regular 'Expert' in math. She helps teach her peers the subject, both in her classroom and in others.

When asked why she likes helping other students, Amber replied "So they can learn more."

Superintendent Dr. Roberta Selleck is the driving force behind bringing this personalized mastery system to Freeport. She assures there's no set timeline to implement the system, she's still explaining it to community members and her staff. In order to get teachers and administrators more familiar with personalized mastery, the district is sending 25 of them, in three groups, this weekend, to schools in California and Alaska that use the system.

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