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San Antonio charter school focuses on individualized learning

In an effort to help troubled teenagers focus on schoolwork and stay motivated to earn a high school diploma, a charter school district in Texas is creating a school that plans to completely do away with the traditional classroom structure and instead focus on individualized learning.

Slated to open in August 2013, the Anne Frank Inspire Academy in San Antonio is designed to be a 21st century school that will use technology to help students achieve their individual goals and cultivate their unique skills.

The Anne Frank Inspire Academy is part of the John H. Wood Jr. charter school district, which was created to educate troubled students, according to the San Antonio Express-News. It is run by the nonprofit Educational Resource Center, and serves students with a variety of special challenges – from drug and alcohol abuse to emotional or behavioral disorders.

“We refuse to change the way we do K-12 schooling. We gripe about it, but we don’t do anything about it,” Bruce Rockstroh, superintendent of the John H. Wood Jr. charter school district and CEO of the Educational Resource Center, told the source. “There’s got to be a better way.”

The “better way,” as the Anne Frank Inspire Academy sees it, is to do away with a school day dictated by a rigid classroom structure. Instead, the Academy plans to take an individualized learning approach by offering more flexible learning spaces, opportunities to work in small groups or have one-on-one tutoring, and using technology so each student can learn in a way that is most likely to help them be successful.

According to Education Week, the popularity of individualized learning is taking off as it becomes clear that this type of education helps students get excited about school. When formulating an individualized learning plan, student are able to have a hand in what they’re learning.

This also true of the Anne Frank Inspire Academy, where each student will work with educators to devise his or her own learning plan, mapping out a course of study that will help to cultivate particular interests and skills.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Rockstroh said he would also be willing to allow students to create their own electives, and perhaps even course grades. The Academy’s goal, according to it’s website, is to put students first and create a collaborative partnership between teachers, parents and students.

“I’m really excited because you get to use technology and work on your own,” Rebekah Poret, 12, who plans to attend the Academy, told the newspaper. “And it teaches more responsibility with every single kid.”

Although a focus on individualized learning can be extremely effective, according to Education Week, the success of these programs relies a great deal on teachers receiving the proper training, and using extra time to work one-on-one with students who are struggling.

The Anne Frank Inspire Academy is just one in what is soon to be a series of individualized learning academies throughout the state of Texas, and if the model is successful in turning around the lives of troubled students it may soon be adopted across the country.

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