Photo of students in school, phrase "Distinctive Spotlight"

SPOTLIGHT | Video

CICS BUCKTOWN ON THE TODAY SHOW

As schools nationwide try to guide students through the emotional weight of the past year, a Chicago school is finding success with social-emotional learning, which prioritizes the student-teacher relationship. NBC’s Morgan Radford visits CICS – Bucktown in Chicago as TODAY launches a new series, Building Classroom Connections. (Collaboration with Chan Zuckerberg Initiative)

SPOTLIGHT | Publications

Making Mental Health a Priority graphic from the NGLC blog

Making Mental Health a Priority in Schools with Time, Talent, and Trust

By personalizing the mental health programming in your school through authentic relationships and goals that are driven by the community’s needs, you can build trust and move forward together. From Jane Szot & Michele Lansing for NGLC

Open the Doors: Returning to School with New Perspective overlayed on a yellow school bus

Open the Doors: Returning to School with New Perspective

What should education after COVID-19 be? The past year has changed us and the lessons learned can help us build a more equitable system for learning. From Jane Szot for NGLC

What COVID Taught Us about Good Learning and Strong Systems

What COVID Taught Us about Good Learning and Strong Systems

The pandemic created unforeseen challenges, but it also created stronger home-school partnerships and positive changes in teacher practice. From Jane Szot for NGLC.

​Purpose & Practice: Redefining Our Why as Educators

Purpose & Practice: Redefining Our Why as Educators

Coaches—instructional leaders who are also classroom teachers—describe what teaching during a pandemic looks and feels like. From Jane Szot for NGLC.

2020 Vision: Addressing Educational Inequities

2020 Vision: Addressing Educational Inequities

Prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools requires a daily commitment, discomfort, vulnerability, and compassion. Some entry points to DEI efforts are recommended.  From Jane Szot for NGLC. 

Leading By Example – How PeacePlayers Youth Take It Upon Themselves

Leading By Example – How PeacePlayers Youth Take It Upon Themselves

CICS Prairie 8th-grader, Sarii, has been developing her self confidence on and off the basketball court to become a leader in her Chicago community. Read more on the PeacePlayers blog.

Learner Profiles and the Progression of Personalized Learning

​Learner Profiles and the Progression of Personalized Learning

Learner profiles give teachers data reflecting the children they serve and give students the opportunity to share who they are and who they hope to become. From NGLC, by Jane Szot

Teachers As The Drivers of Change

Teachers As The Drivers of Change

From NGLC, by Jane Szot: When we increase student voice and choice in their learning, we must also increase teacher voice and choice in curriculum and instruction, school operations, and professional learning.

Educator Kara May

Educator Kara May

From Bronzeville Life, by Mary Datcher: featuring Art In Motion Co-Director, Kara May, discussing her role and vision for AIM, “It was a destiny thing... We talked about arts and integration, and I became a thought partner." 

Chicago charter school organization uses Google Data Studio to visualize student progress

​Chicago charter school organization uses Google Data Studio to visualize student progress

From Google Case Studies: Distinctive teachers modify their lessons to meet student needs based on data, often in real time. 

​70 Elementary ​& Middle Schools Worth Visiting

​70 Elementary
​& Middle Schools Worth Visiting

From Getting Smart: Featuring CICS West Belden, one of 70 schools you should visit across the nation!

Rethinking Grade Levels and School Design for Personalized Learning

Rethinking Grade Levels and School Design for Personalized Learning

From The Hechinger Report, by Tara Garcia Mathewson: featuring CICS West Belden's openness to multiage classrooms gives both students and teachers extra choice and support.​

Summit Spotlight

Summit Learning Spotlight: Highlighting Best Practices in Personalized Learning

From Summit Learning:Summit Learning Spotlight, a way to honor those achievements and encourage sharing of personalized learning best practices amongst a growing Summit Learning community nationwide, highlights CICS Irving Park, and Distinctive educators, Sami Smith and Jon So. 

Q&A with Colleen Collins: ​Director at CICS West Belden

Q&A with Colleen Collins:
​Director at CICS West Belden

Mastery Communications Week: When we looked at our students, we saw that each student had unique strengths and areas of growth. For example, our data provided information that allowed us to identify students that needed additional supports to attain mastery, as well as students that were exceeding mastery in several areas. 

New Designs for School Grantee CICS West Belden

New Designs for School Grantee CICS West Belden

From NGLCCICS West Belden outlines the transition to personalized learning.

​Can SEL Support Personalized Learning? How One Chicago School is Finding Out

​Can SEL Support Personalized Learning? How One Chicago School is Finding Out

From EdSurge, by Amanda Ronan: The transition to a personalized learning model went beyond altering the physical space. Students were also expected to take more ownership over their learning.

Q&A with Sami Smith: Middle School Mentor Teacher at CICS West Belden

Q&A with Sami Smith: Middle School Mentor Teacher at CICS West Belden

Mastery Communications WeekMastery-based learning is different than traditional learning. It’s is a student-centered process as opposed to traditional teaching, which is more one-and-done. With traditional learning, teachers teach, kids learn, then they do a “thing”—like a paper, project, or tests.

Innovative Staffing to Personalize Learning: ​How new teaching roles and blended learning help students succeed

Innovative Staffing to Personalize Learning: ​How new teaching roles and blended learning help students succeed 

From Christensen Institute & Public Impact: Studying the staffing model of CICS West Belden, including: instructional coach, mentor teacher, career teacher, and resident teacher.  

A virtual tour of blended-learning schools, so others can see how it’s done

A virtual tour of blended-learning schools, so others can see how it’s done

From The Hechinger Report, by Nichole Dobo: featuring CICS West Belden, one of six schools considered leaders in innovation are featured online​.

SPOTLIGHT | Case Studies

Journeys to Personalized Learning: CICS West Belden

Journeys to Personalized Learning: CICS West Belden

Case studyThe story of how one school laid the foundation, developed a plan, piloted their innovative ideas, refined & implemented their methods, and transformed the student experience. Read about the Journey to Personalized Learning at CICS West Belden, and learn more about how to adopt personalized learning approaches!

Summit Learning Boosts Distinctive Schools’ Student Growth

Summit Learning Boosts Distinctive Schools’ Student Growth

Case Study: When faculty at Distinctive Schools sought a personalized learning program to boost student achievement they turned to Summit Learning because of its focus on project-based learning and mentoring.   ​