For those of you who may not know what ‘personalized learning’ is, I am here to explain. Personalized learning is when teachers and staff tailor instruction, expression of learning and assessment to each individual’s unique needs and preferences. While one-on-one instruction is geared toward the strengths and weaknesses of each student which has always been ideal, but now more than ever, technological advances allowed it to become a reality in public education. This is so much more than just letting students use iPads or smartphones, it combines face to face teaching and technology assisted instruction to help the students get a deeper learning experience.
With today’s technology in the classroom, students can really go at their own pace to help them retain and master the information.
In the majority of classrooms, all students are expected to learn the material at the same time and in the same way. Many students will find themselves behind or ahead others and that leads to different learning outcomes from the students. Some will find themselves struggling to master the material in the given time or some will find themselves not being challenged enough and master the material with plenty of extra time. Personalized learning with flipped courses, online and hybrid courses are changing the way students and teachers are able to learn. The flexibility in how students can master the material creates opportunities with learning that adapts to the needs of each student.
This trend has been spreading like wildfire across the country, and even some of our neighboring schools have started to incorporate personalized learning into their environment. Chaska has integrated to personalized learning for their students as well as Chanhassen. It has helped their students become better critical thinkers, more collaborative, flexible, and overall have a more successful learning experience. Shakopee schools will be incorporating personalized learning in the near future as well as we start to grow as a community. They will be creating the “MySaberPlan” which is an ILP (Individual learning Plan) in hopes that students will maximize their abilities and interests. Personalized learning in Shakopee schools is coming and with student-directed learning environments, I think that it will help our students have a better learning experience.
Personalized learning in action has many different ways in which students learn. These are what our neighboring cities have incorporated into their learning environments.
Critical Thinking Circles: Group discussion with an intentional focus
Lab: Learners collaborate or work alone to experiment, test, or investigate something in an effort to answer a question, solve a problem, or create additional learning.
Learner Led Workshop: Learner led seminar or coaching workshop on their topic of choice.
The Learning Hub: A space manned by a volunteer learners who assists peers on their learning journey.
Makerspace: A “workshop” type area that allows learners to design, create, and build structures or projects using materials such as art supplies, paper, wood, glue guns, tools, etc.
Seminar: Direct instruction which is vital for the success of all learners.
Coaching Workshop: Small group instruction based on learner needs.
Conference: Individual meeting which is either learner or teacher determined. Involves check-ins, assistance, assessment, etc.
Personal Flex: Personal work time to work toward meeting learning goals.
Group Flex: Learners collaborate on working toward meeting learning goals with group or partner.
There are many advantages of having personalized learning within a school environment, not only for students but also for teachers. The students would have to hold their own accountability to weather they have mastered the content in order to move on to the next benchmark. This would challenge students at their personal level which would benefit all learners. Also students would be allowed to have their own voice, with guided choice, so that they can learn in the most beneficial way to their selves. From online tutorials, to seminars, to collaborating with peers, students will be able to make their own choices on how they want to master the content. This will lead to them showing more interest and pride in their own work because they were able to choose their areas of interest and demonstrate what they have learned. Another advantage to students is that they will acquire flexibility when they are allowed to learn they way that works the best for them rather than one way, at one pace. Learners have a variety of supportive resources and technology tools. Some may choose to print off the content and work with pen and paper while others can use digital content. Students also establish valuable skills that will prepare them for life beyond the classroom which includes critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and adaptability. As they learn, they are encouraged to make connections, investigate, and bring new insights to their learnings which promotes skill development for success in today’s society.
Personalized learning is something that could potentially be present at our own school in the near future. With this trend transforming the classroom to where the students are the center of the learning process, will benefit the needs of each individual student. Students are in the driver’s seat determining how they learn best, what they want to explore in their learning, and the tools they need to accomplish their learning goals.
“What Is Personalized Learning?” YouTube. Educause, 04 Apr. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.
“Turn your classroom into a personalized learning environment.” ISTE. N.p., 5 Aug. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.
“The 3 Biggest K–12 Tech Trends for 2017.” EdTech. N.p., 31 Jan. 2017. Web. 15 May 2017.