Starting this school year, every student in Bourne Public Schools will engage in personalized learning during a new What I Need, or WIN, period.
The WIN period is a block of time scheduled into the school day for students to receive help in subjects they may be struggling in and to participate in enrichment opportunities such as art, music and theater.
This new program is part of the district’s Multi-Tiered System of Supports framework, which encourages education of the whole individual, from academic success to social and emotional learning.
Though the WIN period looks different for each of the Bourne schools, the general process is the same. Districtwide, students will be assessed three times over the course of the school year. These benchmark assessment tests determine the student’s groupings for the WIN period. Children will be grouped with peers who are at similar levels of academic need.
These groupings will change throughout the year to continue to challenge students and offer opportunities for new relationships with teachers and fellow students.
“Every child is different,” said Bourne Public Schools Superintendent Kerri Anne Quinlan-Zhou. “They all have strengths, and we all have places we need to improve. In knowing that, we’re now able to do some really personalized learning.”
In the elementary schools, students sit in one classroom with the same teacher for most of the day. Dr. Zhou said it is important to have a diverse group of students in a normal elementary school classroom so that they can learn from one another. In the WIN block, however, they can break away from that classroom and be grouped with peers who have similar academic needs.
“Let’s say there is a student who struggles in math but is doing pretty well in reading and writing. They would be sorted into a group where they would get some additional math intervention and wouldn’t be relearning the things they already know,” she said. “Or it could be that a student is on grade level with all the different topics; they’re going to be sorted into an enrichment group where they’re working with, let’s say, maybe the library media specialists reading higher-level books.”
The new learning block is scheduled differently for all the schools in the district.
At Bournedale Elementary School, students have WIN approximately three times a week and change their groupings about every six weeks. Bourne Intermediate School has WIN blocks approximately four times a week and will change groupings every four to six weeks.
Bourne Middle School and Bourne High School will have a WIN period every day for about 30 minutes. Students will be allowed to go to different classrooms and get extra help during the extended block.
Previously, Bourne Public Schools had a program called Academic Overtime for supplementary instruction, and Dr. Zhou said WIN is the next step up. Academic Overtime did not have the benchmark assessments or regroupings that the new period offers.
The district used federal grants to hire interventionists, who are educators skilled at looking at benchmark data and providing personalized instruction on subjects that students are struggling in. There is one interventionist at Bournedale and two at Bourne Intermediate this school year.
There is also now one STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) teacher at each elementary school and a library media specialist at all four schools. The district also recently hired a new theater and English Language Arts teacher for a 6th grade enrichment class.
Dr. Zhou said a team of educators worked this summer to schedule the WIN block into the day without extending the amount of time children are in school.
“It was redoing the schedule to use time differently,” she said.
The district is offering professional development classes to their educators on reading benchmark data and applying the information to their classrooms.
This year’s first groupings were determined with last year’s benchmark data and teacher input.
“The other part about being individual students is that they have different learning styles, so teachers also had input,” Dr. Zhou said. “If a student is a really kinesthetic learner, they might get a lot out of working in PE. That’s why these are flexible groupings; they’re not scheduled into that group the whole year.”
WIN periods began on the first day of school, and the flexible groupings will roll out over the next month.
Assistant Superintendent Barbara Starkie said the children seemed pleased to move to throughout the school and to interact with different educators.
“It was a tremendous amount of work, and teachers with whom I’ve met have expressed their satisfaction with the district’s overall plan to meet the needs of diverse learners,” she said. “They’ve been fueled by their passion for giving students what they need when they need it.”