How long have you been using the Renzulli Learning System (RLS), and how many students have used it?
The School District of Hillsborough County, Tampa, FL, has been using RLS since January 2006 when we piloted renzullilearning.com in our magnet schools. Hillsborough County’s 26 Magnet Schools began their first year with RLS in June 2006. To date, there are 8,089 total registered users: 7,176 students, 767 teachers, 65 parents, and 81 others. Teachers in the district were asked about their experiences using RLS, and their comments are below.
—Deborah Barron, District Lead Teacher, Hillsborough County Magnet Schools and Programs, Florida
The students are excited to work cooperatively with other students
In what ways has the RLS increased student engagement in learning?
- The students want to use it every time they are on the computers. They share the sites they visit among each other and collaborate about the different learning styles they have.
- I can tailor specific sites and follow-up research to the interest of individual students. Students can and have used Renzulli for more in-depth research on topics of interest or as an avenue toward independent learning.
- We use Renzulli in our primary classroom as a student resource. Students use their literacy center computer time to independently research websites that assist them with their current IB Primary Years Programme unit of inquiry.
- I think it has allowed students so pursue their own interests and enhance their reading and research skills.
What other effects on student learning have you noted since implementing the system?
- Many students don’t wait for me to assign something or lay out exactly what I want them to do. They are more inclined to take the initiative.
- Using RLS has increased their interest in the Internet as a learning tool and helps them gain reading ability and content knowledge. The students are excited to work cooperatively with other students or independently on a variety of safe, educational websites they have discovered through the Renzulli system.
- The students are better at navigating the web.
- I have a group of girls planning a sleep over so they can write and illustrate a book to send in for a young author’s contest.
What has been the most useful aspect of using Renzulli for your school and students?
- Many different resources in one area for the students to use.
- I can track student interest, there are online and print resources to supplement projects, and the approach
- Renzulli takes is appropriate for the emphasis our school has for the inquiry process.
The most useful aspect of RLS is the ease of navigation for students to explore interesting, intriguing, safe, and educational sites.
- The profiler has worked well with the 3rd-5th graders. It helps them see what type of skills they possess, and what they might need to work on.
What has been problematic or the least useful feature?
- The initial assessment is time consuming and difficult for first, second, and some third graders to do.
- Students tend to find a favorite site to visit, like funbrain, and visit that all the time instead of going to different sites.
- Not all the sites are accessible because of the filtering system our school district has in place. It is sometimes frustrating that what looks to be exactly the resource we need is eliminated.
- The profiler has been difficult to use with the 1st-2nd graders. The vocabulary of the questions is too advanced.
How has the talent portfolio feature helped you and parents track student growth and document achievements over the year?
- My favorite part is that there are projects. The projects match their interests AND…so incredibly cool…there are science ideas that are perfect for science fair!!!
- I thought this would be yet another thing to track, but it is so incredibly neat. You can generate really cool reports too that show the kids’ interests. Since they fill out the questionnaire, it is their ideas about who they are.
- We haven’t really used the talent portfolio much as of yet. We focused more on the wizard project maker.
Discuss parental reaction and involvement; was it more or less than you’d hoped for?
- I haven’t received much feedback from parents.
- Parents have commented that the students are enthusiastic about specific research. Some seem very aware of what his or her child is working on.
- Some parents seem excited. But it is a new technology to us, and it takes awhile for the word to spread.
- One parent called the Renzulli Learning System a “resource on steroids.” “My son is more excited at the end of the day – more challenged and drawn in. This is a good fit for my child.”
Please share additional thoughts and comments you have.
- I have enjoyed the resource, use it weekly, and my students like that so many things they are interested in are easily accessed.
- With a class of 20 students, the Renzulli process (RLS) seemed daunting at first but with the help of a laptop cart and an LCD projector, I was able to get all students accessing and completing the learner profile within a 90 minute time block. After logging onto the laptops, students were able to navigate through the questionnaire with support from teachers and parent volunteers. Printing out the Learner profile for each student helps coordinate group work for a variety of learning styles within the classroom.
- Renzulli was primarily created for grade 3 and above so some of the sites are higher level for our primary students. This problem was solved by creating open ended homework assignments that parents enjoy sharing at home with their students. Students then bring in information and bookmarked sites to share with others.
- I think it is a great tool to use in the classroom. As we move into next year we are going to use it more as a whole school program. Resource and special area teachers will become much more involved.
- Renzulli is a very cool and broad resource. I can see advanced students with the technology expertise having a wonderful time exploring on it.
- The site has a lot of interesting activities and ideas that can be used in the classroom. The resources are all there and easy to access. I liked the fact that they had lots of videos and DVDs.
- From what I can see, you can get the same information on Google—it’s just that Renzulli puts it into a nice little package.
- I recommend the virtual field trip to Egypt’s Giza pyramids. The next best thing to being there…and not nearly as hot!