The Extraordinary Pace of Progress and Innovation

While many of us in the area were digging out from our 3rd Nor'easter in as many weeks, a host of Garnet Valley High School students were busy at home learning and doing what is normally reserved for the traditional face-to-face classroom. While this “blended learning” model isn’t new to education, it is new to Garnet Valley. As recently as four years ago our staff and students had little to no access to technology in their classrooms, but now our teachers are reimagining space and time and facilitating online and blended learning for students on snow days! The speed at which this evolution took place is truly amazing and it is just one more example of the great work being done by the faculty and staff in Garnet Valley.

Conversations and committee work focusing on how to best provide personalized learning experiences for students (and staff) motivated our superintendent, Dr. Marc Bertrando to “blend” this year’s opening day. His model of authentic and purposeful innovation was sandwiched between two amazing presentations, one by AJ Juliani (@ajjuliani) on Empowering Students and one by George Couros (@gcouros) on the characteristics of The Innovator’s Mindset and the importance of becoming a connected educator. These opening events created a buzz around our district and reinforced our pursuit of personalized and blended learning opportunities for all students.

The speed at which innovation takes place in Garnet Valley is amazing. Just a year ago our Blended Committee shared their work and definition for blended learning with the district to help clarify and define their work:

  • Which led to piloting a blended course at @GarnetValleyHS
  • Which led to offering ten additional blended courses next year
  • Which led to a partnership with @GOAlearning
  • Which led to @adamlavallee posting in @SlackHQ about using @useloom for #FlippedLearning
  • Which led to @GVHermanator forwarding @ctangscience ‘s tweet looking for a new snow day tech tool
  • Which led to @ctangscience learning and sharing (with @mrskochscience) a new tech tool
  • Which led to her Mitosis lesson being #flipped on a snow day
  • Which led to her students…

The end is still to be written but the teacher in me says any one lesson can have a huge impact on students; it can inspire them to explore new ideas and topics; it can embolden them to think differently and take risks, and it can encourage them to be active and autonomous learners. Technology has now replaced the need for buildings and bell schedules to reach students.