Personalized Learning: What does this mean and how can we do it?
Personalized learning is really about "teachers helping students find what they like and want to learn about and what their strengths and needs are. Then, the teacher sets up projects that are in line with the students’ interest and with academic standards" ("Personalized Learning", n.d). This can be high tech or low tech depending on the student. The technology you use or don't use is not the key to personalized learning. Bunting (2015) points at that most teachers begin with this question when first stepping foot in the classroom: "What does this school expect me to teach?" Now this is not a bad question to ask yourself, but "too often a textbook, a set of concepts, a list of facts, or a canned curriculum." Now don't get me wrong content knowledge is important, but there is more to an education than just the content. "Lessons, units, and courses must start with a backward-design approach -- if you plan a trip, it's best to have the destination in mind! If the content is your destination, it's easy to miss the broader purpose of our work, and students' interests and long-term life goals often live outside of our content areas."
If we can access students lives then we can potentially unlock a key to a lasting education. We can shift the roles of teachers and students. "In traditional learning, the teacher is the leader and the student is a mostly passive recipient. In personalized learning, the student is the leader, and the teacher is the activator and the advisor" ("Personalized Learning", n.d). This can ultimately lead to the goal of "transferring the ownership of learning from teachers to students" (Cavanaugh, 2017). Bunting (2015) points out that if we can ultimately transfer ownership to students then students will be able to make their own meanings out of learning. Isn't this what we want? Students who can think for themselves and be self-reliant. In my opinion this can be the hardest thing to teach. As teachers we want to protect our students. They are our "kids" and we want to protect them from failure. But if they don't learn now then they will fall later on.
This idea of personalized learning sounds AWESOME to me the problem is how do we implement it? "True personalized learning calls for a 'rethinking and redesign of schools, which could require them to overhaul classroom structures and schedules, curricula, and the instructional approaches of teachers" (Cavanaugh, 2017). Getting everyone on board can be tough. It is hard to sell something that is not what most think of as an education. So if you can't change at a school level I do believe their are things we can do in the classroom. For me personally I have had a shift from testing students in the traditional sense to giving them projects in which they are graded on a rubric. This is not completely personalized learning but I do believe it is a step towards that direction. Another thing we have to keep in mind is that technology does not automatically make it personalized. The teacher is what allows for the personalization and how they do or don't incorporate technology is up to them. "Nothing replaces the teacher, and [a] teacher's ability to know a student and what they need. You can't get that from a piece of software" (Cavanaugh, 2017). Personalized Learning (n.d.) echoes this by saying that "the teacher has to know the student to customize a program and to offer advice." Below are a few ideas from Montpeiler High School.
Bunting, M. M. (2015, March 02). What Is Personalization, Really? Retrieved March 28, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-is-personalization-really-mike-martin-adam-bunting
Cavanagh, S. (2017, February 09). What Is 'Personalized Learning'? Educators Seek Clarity. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/22/09pl-overview.h34.html
Personalized Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/student-success/personalized-learning/
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