Iyyah Mustapha, a 7th grader at Urban Promise Academy (UPA), was part of the first year of the personalized learning model in 6th grade. She is now excelling in science, her favorite subject, taught by Ms. Hurab, and participates in the Sustainable Transportation Club after school.
Ms. Hurab partnered with the California Department of Transportation to create the only Bay Area branch of this nationwide club at UPA. Students compete and video conference with middle schools across the nation to develop innovative transportation modes for the future.
Read on for Iyyah's insights about UPA:
Tell us a bit about your school.
I really like UPA because in elementary school I really struggled with math and didn't get good grades. Here the teachers really care about your learning. They do a lot of check-ins and we also fill out surveys to tell them how we feel. We can write down things that we think should change about the school and sometimes we really change them, we give feedback to the teachers and the principal.
How does the personalized learning model work?
Basically half the time we worked with teachers and in small groups and half of the time at our own pace, which is called PLT [Personalized Learning Time]. It's a little hard to catch up on but its good that we challenge ourselves. PLT has different learning modules with tests you have to pass and meet objectives, we work individually or with partners or teachers to help us learn and work on the areas that we're not passing in. Here the teachers create knowledge and the students teach each other in small groups.
What makes science your favorite class?
I love learning about how life is supported and we have fun. We made a device to filter water using solar energy, we took a couple days to make our model and do research. We really learned a lot about molecules and then we made the filters in real life. We used a small device which has a light that stays on if the water is dirty and turns off if its clean. That's how we knew it was clean.