Deeper Learning: Passionate Learning

The greatest outcome of providing each student access to their learning is the ability for each of them to go beyond the curriculum and to follow their passion. Over the ten years of our one-to-one initiative- wait- let’s stop calling it a one-to-one because that focuses on the device.  Perhaps since the focus is on teaching and learning, we should call it a ‘24x7 personalized learning initiative’ as this gives a better picture of what it means to have access to digital curriculum and digital opportunities.

I recently had the honor and privilege to meet innovative educators from 28 countries through Intel’s Innovative Educator’s program led by Intel’s Liz Crawford.  Each participant needed to share something about their school district with the invited educators and Intel staff so I reached out to some of our students and staff to hear their stories. I wanted to focus on how our students and staff personalize their teaching and learning and how each pursues their passion. The link to the video of the student and staff interviews are at the end of this post.  I only wish I could have included so many more of the stories that impressed and excited me.  As educational leaders, we try to put all of the pieces together such as digital curriculum, professional development, sustainability, etc, but sometimes, we need to ask some questions such as, ‘What is your passion and how do you continue to learn deeply about your passion?'

Some of the students found engineering and design interesting and were able to follow that passion by designing beyond the curriculum in ways that they had never before thought they could. Some pursued the arts and with 24x7 access to the Adobe suite, so they, too, could go deeper into their projects. One young woman named Samantha, who will be one of our student bloggers on this site, pursued her deep interest in robotics and found that she was energized by the collaboration for design and problem solving and of course, the competition which has brought trophies of success for her team in regional and state competitions.

There was also a young man named Patrick, who pursued his love of birds and found a mentor at the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Through his research class, he was able to work with his mentor to monitor nesting behavior of the kestrels and other birds which required gathering data over a few years and submitted the data to the state department.  I wanted to learn so much more from his depth of knowledge of birds.

The stories were very powerful and it was wonderful to see the passion in the eyes of our teachers who developed opportunities for students to purse their own passions. 

Visit to hear their stories:

Marianthe Williams has been a district level administrator supporting teaching and learning with technology and professional learning for the past 15 years. Most recently, she has supported the River Dell Regional School District in the implementation of their one-to-one computing initiative which is about to enter its ninth year at the high school. In addition, she supports technology infusion into the middle school’s learner-centered environment. Williams created an elite team of technology turnkey teacher trainers within each discipline who provide ongoing, personalized options through face- to-face, on-demand and flipped professional learning opportunities to their colleagues. She is active in several state and local technology director associations and she currently serves on the technology committee for the New Jersey Association of School Administrators. Twitter: @williamsanthy 

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