HolyFamilyImage_photo by the Telegraph Herald_Eileen Meslar

Personalized Learning

As personalized learning emerges as a leading educational model – and as part of our commitment to ensuring that every student in our school system leaves with the knowledge and skills to be college-, career- and citizenship-ready – Holy Family Catholic Schools has warmly embraced this educational concept.


Holy Family’s personalized learning model supports individualized, project-based student engagement, encourages collaboration and creativity, and promotes authentic work and meaningful assessments; It supports each student in achieving his or her individual potential by setting and tracking achievement goals in real-time, providing a diagnostic tool for teachers to engage with students more effectively; and it empowers students to learn at a pace that’s right for each of them, ensuring they have thoroughly learned the material.



Through personalized learning, every student has a pathway that is customized for them and connected to their long-term goals and aspirations. With the support of teachers and personal mentors, students are guided through a framework for individual success. This approach focuses on key elements of career and college readiness and empowers students toward their goals, to drive their learning and own their successes. Teaching methods and time spent on concepts become individualized so that students each achieve subject mastery at their own pace and in a learning style best geared for them, personally.


The Benefits:

Personalized learning provides that every individual, upon reaching adulthood, will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and habits to realize their God-given potential, through engagement, discernment, growth, and excellence in all they do.


The approach encourages students to take ownership of their work; they work at their own pace on much of the content. As students progress, educators learn about each individual’s academic strengths and challenges. Program studies have shown that many students who have historically struggled are able to access the curriculum in new ways, while students who excel are finding opportunities to accelerate their progress even further.



  • Flexible, anytime/everywhere learning
  • Redefined and expanded teacher role
  • Project-based, authentic learning
  • Student-driven learning paths
  • Mastery/competency-based progression/pace
  • Community partnerships


Through our personalized learning, students become aware of what they are learning, why they are learning it and how they learn best. They become self-directed learners and develop behaviors and mindsets necessary for success.


The Teacher's Role:
Teachers have the tools they need to customize instruction to meet student's unique needs and interests, as well as the time and support to build strong relationships with students.


The Student's Role:
Students are empowered to become self-directed learners — with the support of teachers and personal mentors, they set goals for their learning, reflect on their progress and build habits and mindsets to help them succeed in college, career and life.




Through project-based learning, students engage in projects that connect the classroom to the real world. When students work in teams to apply what they're learning to projects that mimic and solve real-world problems, they develop strong collaboration, communication and critical thinking skills. Utilizing a comprehensive cognitive skills rubric to measure 36 interdisciplinary, higher-order thinking skills that are necessary for college and career readiness, teachers can facilitate authentic, deeper learning projects and provide coaching and feedback on cognitive skills.


Cognitive skills apply across multiple subject matters. They are categorized within the following domains:

  • Textual Analysis
  • Using Sources Inquiry
  • Analysis and Synthesis
  • Composing/Writing
  • Speaking/Listening
  • Products and Presentations


Students practice and develop cognitive skills in every subject and at every grade level. For each cognitive skill, students must score a six on a 0-8 point scale to demonstrate college and career readiness. Students progress along a continuum demonstrating competency in a skill as appropriate for their level of development and growth.




Students work through playlists of Common Core and NGSS-aligned content at their own pace and take assessments on demand. Teachers target instruction individually and in small groups based on real-time student assessment data.



Students reflect on their experiences with personal mentors on a weekly basis and develop habits of success, including learning strategies, emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. Weekly check-ins provide ongoing feedback so that mentors may serve as a coach and advocate for their students.




Fostering a sense of purpose means students engage in relevant and meaningful enrichment experiences to more fully realize what they are called to do in college, career and life. No matter what students want to accomplish in their lives, they need a plan to make that dream a reality. Students set and track short-term academic goals and long-term college and career goals. Teachers develop strong relationships with students to understand their aspirations, help them set their goals and reflect on their progress through weekly mentoring check-ins.


Students will prepare for these experiences throughout the year but will focus in on them during Religion time. Each experience will be one week long and take up half of each day. During this time we will take a break from core courses and connect students with local experts in an effort to develop social and spiritual awareness, while also putting student knowledge and skills to the test.



Personalized Learning Summer Information Sessions

In July, Holy Family presented four personalized learning information sessions for elementary families.  The following video is a recording of the information provided in those meetings for those who were unable to attend. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your school principal or Lisa Krapfl, director of personalized learning, if you have further questions.




  • Will my child experience more screen time?
    While technology usage will fluctuate from time to time and subject to subject, student screen time, on the whole, will not change much. In fact, by curating online educational resources in one location on the Summit Learning Platform, students' time spent online will become even safer and more efficient. Personalized learning puts a heavy emphasis on collaborative work, hands-on projects with real-world applications – such as collaborating with a team, interpreting data, and presenting a persuasive argument. Students will only use laptops for very specific purposes and when they are not needed the screens will be closed.  Take a moment to listen to St. Columbkille Principal Barb Roling discussing screen time.


  • Will my child be teaching him/herself?
    No! While personalized learning encourages and teaches students to become self-directed learners, our teachers will always remain central to the instructional process. With a vast library of educational resources, instructional support, and real-time data on individual student progress, teachers have the ability to tailor instruction to a personal or small group level, making their time spent with students even more meaningful and effective. Take a moment to read some insights from Holy Family teachers who will be applying personalized learning in their classrooms.


  • How is this different from online learning that my student could just do at home?
    Personalized Learning is so much more than an online platform.  While we are using a web-based tool to support student learning and provide teachers with real-time feedback on student progress, it is by no means the only tool in our belt. Teachers will deliver lessons through group and individual instruction; Students will collaborate with their peers to enhance learning; And individual students will be taught to become goal-driven, self-directed learners through research-based practices that foster Habits of Success and Cognitive Skills. Through mentoring, teacher and peer feedback and robust hands-on project work, our students will be more educationally nourished than they could ever be working on a computer alone. What's more, through intentional reflection and real-world experiences that are built into our curriculum, our students will be challenged to identify their sense of purpose and the ways in which they are called to share their God-given gifts in the world.


  • Is Summit Learning only a limited time grant? What will we do when it's over?
    Holy Family Catholic Schools will receive support and training from Summit Learning for four years. After this, we will be self-sustaining and able to provide our new staff with training. We will always have access to the platform.



Partnering with Summit Learning

At Holy Family, we believe that personalized, project-based learning is the future of education and in keeping with our tradition of leadership in innovation, we are excited to be the first school system in Iowa to make this platform available to our students by utilizing tools provided through the Summit Learning platform.


Take a moment to learn more about the Summit Learning Platform in this brief video:



Beginning in the 2017–2018 school year, Holy Family announced the launch of EDGE, a pilot project for the gradual rollout of personalized learning in Holy Family schools.


Read our blog post on innovative education, featuring EDGE.

Contact Us

Lisa Krapfl

Director of Personalized Learning