Originally published Monday, April 16, 2018 at 06:03a.m.

On April 10 the Humboldt Unified School District (HUSD) School Board approved the iCHOOSE Academy, a new program utilizing technology for seventh and eighth grade students in the 2018-19 school year at Glassford Hill Middle School (GHMS).

Humboldt Unified’s iCHOOSE Academy at GHMS is a transformational school model focused on a personalized learning education model. The iCHOOSE Academy utilizes digital learning tools and relevant, project-based instructional approaches.

The academy personalizes education for students by addressing the distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations of individual students.

Supported by 1:1 technology, teachers will facilitate and mentor students who are engaged in collaborative, real-life learning experiences including opportunities for deep, rich study in entrepreneurship, engineering, leadership, sustainability, and globalization.

Personalized learning allows instruction to be paced to students’ needs and interests. Students will engage in decisions about the what, when and how through the mastery of content and skills via project based learning. Chromebooks are assigned to each student to use in and out of school. Their online learning will include resources that are available 24/7.

Teachers will be in state-of-the-art classrooms to facilitate and mentor students who are engaged in a blended learning environment. The traditional desk in rows would be replaced with varied, movable seating options that allows for movement and collaboration, including outside learning spaces. The students in this program will still have access to electives such as art, choir, band, physical education and foreign language.

Superintendent Dan Streeter states, “We have an opportunity for a culture shift in our district. We have an education system that in many ways is still attached to the industrialized era model. This model worked really well for a long time, it served us incredibly well and built up our amazing country. However, times have changed; our students today are global, social, visual, and technological. They are like us, but they think about learning differently. Our kids have information at their fingertips. We need to help them turn this information into intelligence. We need to shift from content deliverers to intelligence creators.”

Superintendent Streeter adds, “We have tools available to us today that we have never had in the past, namely technology. The purpose of technology is not to make the old education model faster and more efficient, but it is to transform the educational experience. This is why this program will still come down to having a great teacher in the classroom. A great teacher will provide an opportunity for our students to personalize their learning by addressing their distinct learning needs, interests, and aspirations through the utilization of digital learning tools and relevant, project-based instructional approaches. This will allow our students and teachers to innovate and iterate.”

A parent meeting regarding the iCHOOSE Academy will take place from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, in the Glassford Hill Middle School Auditorium. We invite parents of students heading into seventh and eighth grade to attend and find out more about the iCHOOSE Academy. Program information is available on the GHMS website at gh.humboldtunified.com.