"Personalized learning” can mean many different things to many different people. It is not a noun, a “thing”, or a prescriptive binder of information for one to follow. Personalized learning is a verb, an active method of best practice that puts the learner at the center of instruction. Personalized learning is using a variety of strategies with multiple pathways designed to meet the needs of all learners. This approach is something effective teachers have always done. Below outlines how to re-think instruction and offer multiple pathways by looking through a personalized learning lens.
Common Educational Practice vs. Personalized Learning Process
A teacher takes a class through a variety of exercises to learn new information or skills. The teacher controls the pace and delivery.
Teacher provides strategies to learn new information or skills AND makes those strategies known to the learners. Teachers guide learners through voice and choice in understanding how they access, engage and express information.
How many times does a teacher hear, “How long does this have to be?” “How many notecards do I need?” “How many points is this worth?” These questions indicate that learners are working to meet a teacher’s expectations. While this may work for some learners, for many others it leads to misguided stress, anxiety or intense dependence on the teacher. Rethinking instruction that focuses on the learning vs compliance, invites learners to be active participants of their learning. When a teacher is more deliberate about helping the learners to make informed choices for their learning needs, the individuals own their learning. This shift puts much less emphasis on learner compliance and more emphasis on one understanding the actual learning process. One way to increase learner agency is to leverage instructional time.
Creating Multiple Pathways
Once the standards or learning targets are determined multiple pathways for learning can be established. To begin, a consideration for how a learner can access, engage or express information is essential. In the scenarios presented, learners can access and engage information in a teacher seminar (direct instruction guided by the teacher), a collaborative group (3-4 learners working on the same task) or personal flex/independently. Not all learners process information in the same way, and if learners know themselves as a learner they can make the choice that fits their needs(See blog on learner profile). To articulate this further we will provide examples of what this framework looks like in our class.
Lesson, 21st Century Literacy, Study of Rhetoric
Learning Target: Understand Rhetoric (Pathos Appeal).
Chronology of the lesson:
Every lesson begins with whole class instruction. We speak to the learning target(s) for the day; be able to understand pathos appeal. Next, we preview the lesson presentation BEFORE asking learners take notes. We emphasize the skill of active listening. Which means we show each slide and offer a brief explanation that speaks to learner tasks or content. Then, we give learners a choice in how they want to further access and engage with the information. Each learner is required to demonstrate their understanding of the concept(s) by taking notes and completing the formative work for the day. In this lesson, the formative work required one to identify different examples of pathos appeal on a worksheet we provided.
To engage with the formative work, learners can choose from three pathways:(we use flexible seating arrangements to allow for our classroom space to support the different pathways)
One-attend a teacher seminar with specific teacher guided practice on portions of the assignment.
Two-find other learners and form a collaborative group to review the presentation on their devices, take notes and complete the formative practice.
Three-work independently (personal flex) to take notes and demonstrate understanding of the concept through completion of the formative practice.Rather than plan to have all learners take notes during a teacher lecture from a presentation, we present three pathways. When all is said and done, we gain more time in the course, because we are no longer waiting for all learners to take notes from a presentation simultaneously. Studies show processing speeds vary, and it’s important to consider this when determining how kids will access and engage with information. Therefore, by planning for multiple pathways for note taking and learning content, individuals can work at their own pace to make for a better use of their time. At the end of the class all learners reflect by answering two questions: -what is pathos appeal and what worked well for my learning today? This process engages learners and gives them ownership in the learning process.
|Learners participating in teacher seminar for accessing Noodletools|
Another way to create multiple pathways is to create flex groups within a class. After collecting data on where the learners are at from either a Google form, learner conferences and or teacher observations you can form different flex groups based on the needs of the learners. Once the groups are formed the rotate through teacher seminars where the teacher tailors the instruction for what they need while the other learners are working in collaborative groups or independently. Picture this, while researching and writing rhetorical speeches, predetermined flex groups rotated through teacher seminar to learn how to engage with tool Noodletools. As learners navigated their way through their first experience with Noodletools, the flex group seminars aided one’s ability to better focus and increased learner engagement and understanding.
Check out these other great examples of how teachers created multiple pathways: