Personalized Learning

A Change in Public Education

What is Personalized Learning?

Public schools are going through a transformation. You may notice some of the changes immediately when you walk through your child's classroom door. It just looks and feels different from what you remember as a child. Know it is all intentional. Schools today are working harder than ever to empower students so they become more actively engaged and responsible for their learning.
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What is Growth Mind Set?

Growth mind set is a way of thinking that takes the frustrated "I can't do this" student to a "I know I can do this part, so I'm going to keep trying" way of thinking. Teachers today are working with students to change their way of thinking to focus on staying positive through the process of learning.
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The Teacher Role is Changing

Teachers are taking on the role of facilitators of learning. Upon walking into a classroom you may notice many different things happening. The classroom teacher may be presenting a short mini lesson followed by students going off to work in different areas of the room.

Teachers will conference with students in small groups or individually to meet their academic needs. This may be for the purpose of a child demonstrating to the teacher their learning, it may be for the teacher to reteach materials to the student who is still developing their understanding, or it may be for the teacher to provide explanation of an extension a student will be working towards. Conferencing with the child is done to move them forward.

With every child having exposure to or possession of an iPad, some of the teaching is done through the use of technology. In Schoology the teacher may have videos set up in the different subject areas for the students to watch. These are used as a way to not only present some information, but serve as a great resource for students to be able to revisit as needed.

Teachers are also using technology as a way for students to show their learning. See Saw is a great digital portfolio where students can upload videos of themselves demonstrating their understanding of a concept. They can also take photos of their work. Teachers are able to accept the work to be added to to the student's subject folders as well as offer comments for feedback. Parent have access to the student's portfolio as well, and this provides a broader audience to see and comment on the student's work.

The Student Role is Changing

As students are empowered to be actively engaged in their learning, they are being asked to make more choices for themselves. Students are becoming more aware of what their strengths and weaknesses as a learner are. They set goals for themselves and self monitor their progress towards those goals.

Students are learning to have a voice, which means having the opportunity to talk about their learning. Letting the teacher know when they need more assistance. It also means students are sharing interests they have and would like to learn more about.

Choices is another area students are having a say in. Through pre-test and teacher observation, students who already have a strong understanding of the concepts being focused on, will be provided with extension opportunities to push their learning to a deeper level. Student are also able to make some choices about what they'd like to work on in the areas they still need to develop a better understanding of. Common Core State Standards are broken down into "I can statements" to make it easier for students to know what they are working towards.

21st Century Skills are infused into the student's school day. They are being asked to use creative and critical thinking skills. Opportunities are created for students to collaborate with each other in small and large groups. On a daily basis they work to communicate effectively in various subject areas. Students are also learning to practice good citizenship and take personal responsibility for themselves.

The overall goal is to develop students who can advocate for themselves, problem solve, work well with others, and continue to persevere when situations are challenging for them, while producing quality work.

The Classroom Appearance

The appearance of classrooms are changing to be inspiring yet comfortable for students to work in. What you will notice is desks may still exist, but they may be arranged in smaller community like groupings. Tables of varying heights provide places where students can stand if they need to or sit on cushions on the floor. There may also be alternate seating options like bean bags or rocking chairs. Students are able to find work spaces that can be productive and excel in.

What is Project Based Learning?

In project based learning the teacher has created an experience for the students to learn which involves a real-life challenge or event that the students work through in order to come up with information or a solution. The experience incorporates curriculum from the different subject areas, 21st century skills, as well as multiple common core standards.

There is usually a scenario presented to the students to set them up for the challenge situation followed by a driving question. This question is what focuses the students plan to achieve the project's goal.

Project perimeters are given to the students so they are aware of the choices they will be able to make. These range from how the teams will be created to what form their end result needs to take. Options to create a commercial, multi-media presentation, some form of advertisement, these are just a few examples of what students may be asked to create.

21st century skills of collaboration, effective communication, critical thinking, and problem solving are used throughout the project. These types of opportunities also allow student creativity and innovativeness to shine. Since these types of skills are also called employability skills the authentic experience of the project is helping students to learn, utilize, and improve skills that will benefit them for a life time.

The expectation is for students to create a high-quality end product so feedback along the way is important. Some of this will come from the guidance of the teacher, but students will also be evaluating their project work along the way. They will need to continuously check to make sure they are including all the areas the project is expecting them to incorporate.

When the projects are completed they are usually shared with a larger audience. Students are able to present their final project and showcase their talents. This may be done in front of a class of peers or published digitally for a broader audience to see.

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