Friday, March 14, 2014

What is "Personalized" Learning?

I'll admit there's a lot of Educational jargon I'm comfortable throwing around, but "personalized" is not a term I am at all comfortable using. Its really interesting seeing its use here too, in the article below describing new schools in Montgomery County. 

I appreciate their description of the flipped classroom, and I really appreciate the benefits they speak of - the Teacher introduces concepts to the class with video lessons, creating time for more precise, targeted instruction and interaction to meet the needs of his or her learners while they work to understand and apply the knowledge. I feel this shift is huge, and is certainly a necesary personalization of classroom instruction. 

The notion I wrestle more with is of students choosing the ways in which they will demonstrate their learning. I feel this statement needs to be qualified to really be understood. This is one of the areas of Project Based Learning I see Teachers wrestling with constantly - how much choice can and should we give students. The answer, in my mind, really depends on the individual. I've had the privilege in the last few years of by Teaching to focus my time on students in Grades 8 and 9. In my kind most of these students are still developing ways of demonstrating learning, and are not yet ready to make strategic choices as to how they go about demonstrating new learning. Instead, I feel it's far more beneficial helping then broaden their repertoire by exploring together when it comes to ways of demonstrating learning. I feel student choice is much more effective when it comes to the questions they are asking, and the ways they go about finding information. 

In Math I've come to place tremendous value on student choice when it comes to the kinds of practice questions students are doing. We work together to make sure students are doing practice questions that are appropriate for their skill and ability, but that's more a judgement that I want them to be making, rather then one I want to make myself, and definitely now one I wish to make and apply to the whole class. I feel it needs to be said too that there is great value in students learning from one another, and I think we need to weigh that into the choice we give students in the mediums they use in presenting learning.

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