Personalization is all around us. We see it in our everyday lives, from the stores we shop in to the restaurants we dine at. Recently, Vanguard teachers embarked on a journey in downtown Frederick, a historic, bustling area unique to Frederick County, to explore the world of personalization.
Frederick County was founded in 1748. Today, it is remarkable to see how the city has evolved and overcome obstacles by using personalized plans to meet and exceed the needs of its citizens. At the Frederick Visitors Center, Vanguard teachers had an opportunity to hear about the transformation that Frederick’s Carroll Creek underwent after the damaging floods in 1976. The tragedy forced the city to create a personalized flood plan in order to rebuild the infrastructure. There were two possible options to rebuild. One was the standard and less expensive option that could have crumbled local businesses, and the other option, the more expensive plan, could promote and even boost the economy. The plan and vision for the city had been decided. Frederick would ultimately invest money to create a place where people, local and from afar, would want to come visit. One way to achieve this, was how the city implemented a personalized flood plan that included four underground conduits, large enough for charter buses to drive through, that ran below the artificial creek. Most citizens today aren’t aware of these conduits, but they are a part of a personalized plan that works best for the citizens and businesses of Frederick. This plan is an excellent example of one of the many ways that Frederick personalized its town.
You can find other examples of personalization in our everyday lives. As you’re walking in downtown Frederick, you can head to Café Nola, where their menu identifies which choices are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. For those with a specific diet, having a personalized menu is quite helpful. If you were to walk to Savage Soaps, you can select from an array of essential oils and scented soaps for any of your personalized home remedies. If you enjoy music, you can stop by The Record Exchange to customize your playlist of tunes.
As a teacher, I realize our students live in a world where they can customize or personalize just about anything. That is, except their school experience. We, as educators, have a responsibility to make sure we don’t leave students in the dark when it comes to their education plans. Students should have some autonomy in how they receive the content we need to deliver. We could be the Sheetz, Inc. of education; providing a made-to-order menu of options, customizing each student’s order with the things they need most – both in and out of the classroom.
Using Blended Learning gives students the opportunity to choose their own pace, place, and path. Blended Learning allows students to personalize their own learning experience. By providing students with self-agency and a personalized curriculum, teachers are ensuring that all students can meet their greatest potential.
Our afternoon exploring downtown Frederick opened my eyes to just how many ways we customize our lives and how we desperately need to offer the same choices and benefits to our students. Blended Learning is just one way we can help bridge the achievement gap, by bringing successful personalization into the classroom.