Personalized Learning: What does this mean and how can we do it?
What is “Personalized learning”? To me, this means that I try to tailor my lessons to the students’ needs. Every child does not learn the same way or at the same pace. Personalized learning ensures that, as much as possible, each child will be met where he or she is in the learning process, be taught in ways that meet the child’s learning style and that take into account the student’s culture and personal circumstances. “Districts see the potential in personalized learning to meet the demands of a student population that has grown more diverse, with a wide range of academic and language needs. And technology, in the view of many, offers a powerful tool for achieving that goal” (Cavanagh, 2017).
I think “Personalized learning” would be great if your school has the budget for it. Of course, the school would need some type of technology like computers, or iPads to help achieve truly personalized learning. I think it should also be a team effort to create a learning plan. I don’t think one teacher can do this for 120-150 students. If that teacher has a low number of students, this would be possible. For myself, I work with 120 students every day. I only have an hour of personalized planning, and that is not enough time to plan for that many students. I try to give choice to students so their projects are personalized to their learning levels and styles, but sometimes it is hard to personalize all lessons.
Our district is facing a $15 million budget shortfall and the Anchorage school district suggests cutting 99 full-time teacher positions to close that budget cap (Hanlon, 2017). The school board has also suggested that middle school teachers teach 6 out of 7 classes. This would mean that we would lose our team planning time. I think this is crucial, especially for middle school students. We meet daily and talk about students we are concerned about and how we can help them. Without that consensus, some students will fall through the cracks and not get the help they need.
As I read through the article “BreakThrough for college readiness,” I could see why these students have improved. They had a network of teachers and helpers with them. I think something like this is possible, but it has to be a team effort; the teacher can’t do it alone. I liked the competency-based learning—taking the best of teachers and combining that with technology. It meets the student where they are in terms of learning. They were a lot of great examples. I do wonder if some of the students would struggle with this type of learning. They don’t talk about that, but I am sure there was some student who struggled or did not make it.
I would like to personalize my lesson more for my students. I like the idea of flipped classroom and would like to try it. Many of my students do not have access to computers at home. This would pose a problem for those students. I wouldn’t want them to feel like they don’t belong in my class or feel like they are going to get behind because of this. I also like the idea of a rotation model. I would love to do that in my classroom, but my classroom is not big enough to create different centers that the students can rotate through. I have about 30 students in each class and just enough space for tables and chairs for those students. This is why I try to do what I can to personalize students’ projects when I assign them. I can’t personalize everything, but at least I can give them a choice in the projects that they do for me.
Blended Learning Definitions. (2017). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from http://www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learning-definitions-and-models/
Breakthrough Models for College Readiness: An Introduction to Next Generation Blended Schools. (2015). Retrieved March 26, 2017, from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2012/11/
Cavanagh, S. (2017). What Is ‘Personalized Learning’? Educators Seek Clarity. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/22/09pl-overview.h34.html
Hanlon, T. (2017). Anchorage School District suggests cutting 99 full-time teaching positions to close $15M budget gap. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/education/2017/02/06/anchorage-school-district-presents-2017-18-budget-that-cuts-99-full-time-teaching-positions-to-close-15m-gap/