Students at Brunson Elementary spent the second day of school comparing items in their backpacks. Not their school backpacks…their digital backpacks.

These students recently completed “What’s In Your Backpack?” – a pilot program that saw them earning digital badges for exploring History, Art, Math, and computer coding during the summer. Part of CPS Connects, the District’s vehicle for personalized learning, this program was made possible by Brunson’s digital playground – an online resource that allows students to work at their own pace and let their interests guide their learning experience.

Digital badges insideDr. Janice Jackson, CPS’ Chief Education Officer, joined Mayor Emanuel to present each participating student with a digital report card that tracked their progress over the summer. The report cards were also handed out to several parents, who used Parent University resources to earn digital badges alongside their children.

Besides helping them avoid the summer slide, where students can sometimes regress academically during the long break from school, the digital playground at Brunson is giving students the technology skills they need to be successful in college, and in a global, 21st-Century economy. Hats off to this school community for sponsoring the Boys and Girls Club that made this summer program possible, and to Digital Youth Network for supporting CPS Connects.

Brunson is an outstanding example of the power of personalized learning – of treating every student as an individual, empowering them to take ownership of their education, and emphasizing that learning is not restricted to the inside of a classroom. That with the right tools, it can be accomplished anywhere, at any time. This is how we prepare students to be successful in school and beyond, and how we accomplish our ultimate goal: creating new generations of lifelong learners prepared for college, career, and community.