The Office of Innovation finds ways to grow and improve, to do more to achieve the education every child deserves with the goal of bringing the VISD strategic plan to life. Our strategic plan was developed in 2019 by a task force of VISD staff, parents, students, community members, and business leaders and represents our hopes and dreams for our students. Chief among these hopes and dreams is the belief there are no lesser paths but there are different paths to a successful launch, and as a result, we have developed several learning pathways so students have choices to find their genius and passions.
Victoria ISD is committed to all students finding their “AND.”
CHOICE in VISD means that the District will embrace a culture of voice, choice, and advocacy to empower student learning. Students are positioned to pursue their genius and gain experience through various opportunities throughout the school year.
STEM Opportunities in VISD
Launching Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in Victoria during the 2021-22 school year created opportunities for our students to experience a hands-on instructional model that fosters design-based thinking while supporting flexible, creative and innovative problem-solving that is the basis for the 21st Century Workforce skills.
Our two STEM schools, Smith STEM Academy and STEM Middle School have both journeyed over the past year to provide a choice pathway focusing on the implementation of the engineering design process in key STEM areas using hands-on, project-based learning.
Following a slow-grow model, each campus has introduced specific grade levels to the STEM instructional model since 2021. At Smith STEM Academy, Kindergarten through 3rd grade currently participates in the program, while 6th and 7th grade participate at STEM Middle School. For the 2023-24 school year, Smith STEM will serve PK - 5th grade and STEM Middle School will serve 6th-8th grade.
Unique opportunities that these campuses include are Makerspace labs and STEM-focused clubs. The Makerspace lab is an area the students visit to dig deeper into the Engineering Design Process as they explore real-world problems. Smith uses Makerspace as a special class that every Kindergarten through 5th-grade student attends. STEM Middle School is working to set up its lab and hopes to launch it this spring for groups of students to visit throughout the day. These activities are anticipated to continue in the years to come.
Personalized Opportunities in VISD
The 2021-22 school year was the first year personalized learning was implemented at three campuses, Shields and Hopkins Elementary and Patti Welder Middle School, and it was successful at all campuses. Personalized Learning acknowledges all students’ unique learning styles and allows teachers to create individualized learning activities. Personalized Learning allows teachers to work directly in small groups with students to support and enrich student mastery of academic skills.
Shields Elementary successfully launched its first year as a personalized learning campus for grades 2-5. The campus was granted autonomy for an earlier school start time and flexibility on educational technology programs to enhance student learning.
Shields students participate in various learning activities in all content areas focused on working collaboratively with peers and hands-on project-based learning. In addition, students at Shields independently track their own academic progress with real-time data and work on goal setting both in and out of the classroom.
Shields implements the personalized learning pathway for K through grade 5. Shields will continue giving students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning through the use of choice menus for instructional activities and by tracking their own data. Shields will also expand the passions block on campus by providing more opportunities and experiences for students to engage and explore their own personal skills and interests.
Hopkins Elementary implemented the Personalized Learning model in Kinder and grade 3 and also implemented the Math Innovation Zone grant.
Students at Hopkins experience a variety of opportunities to participate in service and community building.
Personalized learning is available to all K through grade 5 students at Hopkins Elementary. Hopkins Elementary will continue to partner with community volunteers and businesses to provide students with mentors, citizenship/volunteer opportunities, and extra-curricular clubs and enrichment activities. Hopkins will also continue to have consistent and ongoing family engagement opportunities throughout the year.
Patti Welder Middle School
Patti Welder Middle School launched personalized learning for 6th-grade students during the 2021-22 school year.
The campus created a block schedule two days a week where students took half their classes for an extended amount of time each day so that they had more time to navigate through the station rotation model and work in small groups with the teacher. The block schedule also allows students to work collaboratively with peers, and individually with the educational technology programs that are paired with the core curriculum.
All Patti Welder 6th-grade students participate in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class. The AVID class provided students with academic skills such as time management, goal setting, and academic discourse. Students used the skills they learned in AVID across all content areas.
Personalized learning is implemented in all grade levels at Patti Welder Middle School. Patti Welder will continue to provide students with extended time in small group instruction to benefit the needs of each learner. Additionally, Patti Welder has each week during the modified block schedule, students and teachers are able to work collaboratively in class to enhance student communication and collaboration skills through a variety of activities and projects.
The Future of CHOICE
The Office of Innovation strives to provide learning pathways and opportunities for students in VISD. We are pleased to announce that for the 2023-24 school year, VISD will begin working on a two-way dual language program at an elementary campus that will be implemented in the 2024-25 school year.
After reading about CHOICE Schools in VISD, if you’re interested in learning more, visit www.visd.net/choiceschools.
The application period for CHOICE Schools will open on Monday, January 9, and close on Friday, January 27. Parents can access the application at www.visd.net/choiceschools.
A selection lottery will be conducted on Monday, February 13. Students selected by the lottery must accept their seat by Friday, March 3, and register at the CHOICE campus in May. Students not selected will be placed on a waiting list in the event a seat opens up.
We also invite you to the second annual Finding Their “&” CHOICE Expo on Tuesday, January 10, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the VISD Success Academy, located at 3002 E. North St. (original Stroman campus) gymnasium. Visitors may park and enter from the parking lot at the corner of North and Ben Wilson.
Along with the choice schools, other programs, pathways, and resources available in VISD will have booths for parents and students to visit.
Melissa Correll is the Chief Innovation Officer for Victoria ISD.