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Personalized Learning in History: Being a Voyager
By Taylor Harris (DCE Student)
There are some students who are most productive when they can work independently, in a quiet environment, at a bit faster pace. At the D.C. Everest (DCE) Junior High, these students became “Voyagers” in eighth-grade history classes.
Under the guidance of history teachers Nancy Gajewski, Christian Ammon, Mark Bohlman and Lori LaPorte, Voyagers were given the option to work independently in a quiet classroom in order to best suit their learning style. According to many of the Voyagers, they prefer a quiet room to a traditional classroom because it is easier for them to concentrate. Ella Voigt noted, “It's much easier to concentrate on what you're doing in a quiet Voyager room rather than in a noisy classroom.” Other Voyagers prefer to work at a faster pace than the average history class — it can make them feel more in control of how they work. Brady Bydynkowski said, “I think I have been more efficient because I can work at my own pace instead of having to follow the pace of the rest of the class most of the time.”
Independence is extremely important to Voyagers because they want freedom outside of a classroom. Abby Kurszewski added, “The independence is like a wonderful breath of fresh air.” While student independence is a plus, the students are responsible for remaining productive and staying on task — important life skills that can be applied outside of school as well. “I like how we have a nice quiet place to work and be productive in,” stated Ethan Burnett. Because Voyagers choose to learn more about subject matter independently, their productivity skills improved. According to Eli Westcott being an independent scholar “made me want to learn more outside of school.” The Voyager students now strive for more information outside of the curriculum.
The Voyagers were sometimes involved in different learning activities than those in the classroom such as having a panel discussion with the Social Studies Coordinator, Paul Aleckson, and being in charge of several stations during the school’s annual Civil War Day event.
The Voyagers found that they became high achievers in their history course and were able to present higher quality work than they had in the past because they could independently pursue topics of interest in greater depth. “It helped me become better at learning things by myself without a teacher's help,” added Benjamin Halambeck. Justin Reimer concluded, “I truly do enjoy and like being a Voyager and I hope I can become faster and smarter as a learner because of it.” According to Taylor Harris, “Being a voyager is a great experience for students because not only do we work better, but we further develop important skills for the future.”
Photos courtesy of Nancy Gajewski
Caption. The Voyagers participated in a panel discussion with the Social Studies Coordinator, Paul Aleckson.
Caption. Voyagers were given the option to work independently in a quiet classroom in order to best suit their learning style.