Where to begin when personalizing learning

As readers of this blog may know, I have a great interest in personalizing the learning experience for students.

I find that in its simplest form, personalizing is offering students choice and challenging them to think in creative ways that are meaningful and rewarding to them. I have been practicing this for a while in my own classroom, and have witnessed a high degree of student engagement in classroom learning tasks as a result.

Lately, though, my thoughts have turned to scaling a model of personalizing learning for an entire school.

Where do you begin if you want to implement personalized learning for an entire school or school system?

I find that “The Honeycomb Approach to Personalized Learning” makes good sense in that it keeps the student learning experience central to all considerations during the planning process.

Honeycomb approach to personalized learningsource: The Institute @CESA#1

This approach developed by The Institute @ CESA#1, rightly notes that our attempts to implement personalized learning for an entire building isn’t necessarily a linear planning approach. It will get “messy.” Instead, we need to remember that all planning begins with the learner at the core of all thinking (and not new schedules, technology devices or even ‘trendy furniture’ as primary considerations.), and the honeycomb allows us to do this. This helps us focus our thinking on three factors (the cells in blue):

Learner Profiles – Comprehensive, data-rich learner profiles convey how a student learns best and are used to plan a customized learning environment and instructional strategies.

Customized Learning Paths – Students help create unique learning paths based on their individual strengths and interests. Content, pace and feedback are calibrated for each learner and needs are addressed as they occur rather than having to remediate later.

Proficiency-based Progress – All students are expected to demonstrate mastery of rigorous, comprehensive standards. Progress is based on what students have learned, not how much time they have spent in school.

From these starting points, necessary decisions can then be made about suitable teaching strategies and engaging classroom learning experiences (the cells in orange), the expectations for the different roles and relationships of both students and teachers (the cells in green), and the appropriate structures and policies to support the personalized learning practice (the cells in purple), with each decision assessed for its potential impact on the core components.

There are a number of advantages in using the honeycomb approach when planning for personalized learning. Of those mentioned here, I think the flexibility of the this approach offers an “organic” opportunity to help develop teacher capacity for instructional effectiveness in meeting every students’ learning needs:

The core components and surrounding cells can guide professional learning activities for individual educators and teams; they are also useful in supporting collegial coaching and feedback.

As the work gains momentum, schools and teams use the honeycomb as a guide for determining where to build out and scale their work as they move forward. For example, they might chose to add opportunities for Customized Learning Paths or Learner Independence as well as expand their work to other classrooms.

This article provides a concise introduction on how the honeycomb approach can work. Be sure to follow-through on the links, too, to get a wider appreciation on the application of each component.

All in all, I believe that personalizing the learning experience will engage students more in their learning, equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills based on their needs and abilities, and empower students as they move forward in their learning career. This truly is Vibrant Learning for me.

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Dr. J. Rickbaugh. Finding your sweet spot: The honeycomb approach to personalized learning.

The Institute @ CESA#1. Personalized learning.

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My day at the Microsoft Innovative Educator Teacher Academy

I was fortunate to attend the one-day Microsoft Innovative Educator Teacher Academy in Bellevue yesterday. This was a good event to learn about some new tools as well as improve my skill set on some of the tools I am already using at school.

I was glad that our hosts and presenters were all experienced classroom teachers who were proficient in the different tools. They could relate to how we may use the various tools differently in the classroom than in a business environment. In particular, I appreciated how they could share actual implementation stories from their schools and classrooms, as this helped give me new ideas to consider in my own teaching. This part was inspiring. My lunch conversation on using Yammer within the building or district was insightful since I was finally able to talk with an experienced teacher who could explain it in action and demonstrate its usefulness as a resource for teaching and learning.

Even as an Office 365 school, I did not know that Microsoft offered a number of additional free resources for the classroom. I was happy to learn about the Microsoft Educator Network and its wide range of resources, tutorials, lesson plans and professional learning community. This is a site that I have bookmarked and will discover more. It is also a good complement to the resources from the Microsoft in Education site that I was already aware of and had accessed from time to time.

I was keen to learn more about using OneNote in the classroom. The group task in creating a reading assignment using OneNote sparked a number of ideas for my own classroom, especially since we are connected with Office 365 accounts. This could help me as I strive to teach and learn in a paperless environment. In fact, I am already thinking about sharing out resources and lesson notes through OneNote, and will work on setting that up in time for my new second semester class.

I was intrigued with the new Office Mix and will have to explore this more. It appears to be a great tool for making our presentations more interactive. This may help me improve the way I make presentations, but I can see how useful it will be for my students as they work on developing their creative and media fluencies. They will love using it!

Finally, I was very happy that I was able to attend the MIE Teacher Academy with a number of my colleagues. We are now able to share our common experience with the rest of the building faculty and look for ways to access these tools in support of student learning across grade levels.

How do you know if you are a leader?

Leadership is not about experience, education, or talent. It’s about choosing to lead.      -Michael Hyatt

I enjoy following Michael Hyatt’s blog where his tagline is “Helping leaders leverage influence.” One of his recent podcasts offered 12 ways to know whether or not you are a leader. This was a good list to review and apply to my own situation. Am I exhibiting the qualities and mindset that he suggests, especially as it applies to leadership for learning?

A few qualities jumped out to me:

#1 – You long to make a difference.

#2 – You’re dissatisfied with the status quo.

#5 – You acknowledge what is but inevitably ask what could be.

These first three have been at the heart of what I am trying to do in the classroom and with the new school.

I remain convinced that we need to change our thinking and approaches to teaching and learning in order to be more responsive to the needs that students have today. We live in a society and culture that has changed dramatically in the last few years. Unfortunately our approaches to teaching and school have not.

  • We need to engage students in their learning by honoring their interest and initiative to learn. We need to envision a learning space as one in which students are dynamic and passionate participants in the learning process.
  • We need to equip students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions that will help them face an uncertain future with confidence and preparedness. Our teaching needs to address the headware and heartware needed for their future.  It needs to develop a student’s capacity for innovation.
  • We need to empower students with a mindset for growth and service to improve the world in which we live. They need to believe that what they are learning can help them influence and contribute meaningfully to society.

Qualities #10 and #12 resonated more with who I am as an educator and my attempt to align my actions with my beliefs:

#10 – You value relationships more than tasks.

#12 – You’re a learner.

I like to learn. I like to ask questions and understand more. I try to direct this desire for learning into meaningful conversations and relationship development with others who are committed to improving teaching and learning in the classroom. Together we can achieve more as an investment in our students’ future than if we are working alone.

I think it is helpful to review lists such as these and then self-assess one’s growth accordingly. It helps reinforce what we believe and provide reference points as we project a future of positive impact and choosing to make a difference.

We’re all influential in ways we don’t fully appreciate, but the person who is intentionally influential is going to use their influence for good, to influence a person to help them grow, get what they want, become what they were meant to be. That’s a leader. -Michael Hyatt

Students need S-P-A-C-E to learn

I was recently introduced to Challenge Success, which is an organization that works with schools to help create balance and academic fulfillment for students. One of their cornerstones is based on the notion that students need SPACE to learn. SPACE is an acronym for five practices that can help change a student’s experience of school:

S – Students’ use of time

P – Project-based learning

A – Alternative and authentic assessments

C – Climate of care

E – Educate parents, students and faculty

It is worth viewing the recommended SPACE policies and ideas that can positively influence a student’s experience of high school.

Interestingly, I have been advocating for these same principles (minus the fancy acronym!) and planning for many of the recommendations for the new high school. It is rewarding to see how our efforts are aligning with recommendations from the research base for school success.

Of particular interest is focus “C” on developing a caring community for students in which they feel safe and appropriately challenged to learn. This is so central to our plans for the new school, as it is in a community-based learning environment that discipleship and student development can occur. Our high school students need community and a caring advising system in which teachers will get to know their students in order to help them succeed academically  We don’t believe that a fully online, virtual high school will lead to the type of academic and personal growth that we desire for our high school graduates. We remain committed to the deliberate blending of on-campus learning experiences and positive relationships with the best that online learning options may offer for high school studies.

See also – Why kids need schools to change

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The “flipped” classsroom

The notion of a “flipped” classroom has been gaining a lot of attention in the past year or so.

First of all, what is a “flipped” classroom? By most accounts, a flipped classroom is one where the instruction takes place online outside of class hours, thereby freeing classtime for discussion, application and/or homework on the online lesson’s ideas and topics that students have previously viewed.

I have been following the development and interest that it is gaining and wanted to collect a number of links to some valuable resources on the flipped model:

This infographic provides a nice overview of the flipped model.

collection of 10 reasons to consider flipping a classroom countered with 5 reasons not to flip a classroom.

A balanced commentary on the flipped classroom model for learning.

The flipped class manifest outlines the core tenets of a flipped classroom.

A discussion on how the flipped classroom is radically transforming learning.

The Flipped Class Network is a professional learning community to support teachers as they consider flipping a lesson or even their entire class.

 

 

Link

Alternatives to YouTube

I attended a webinar earlier today that focused on a framework for technology integration in teaching. A question was asked regarding YouTube alternatives, especially since many schools continue to block YouTube in the classroom. I recall my post that highlighted YouTube’s efforts to address this, however I appreciated learning about other options to consider, especially those that categorize videos by subject area. 47 Alternatives to Using YouTube in the Classroom and WatchKnowLearn.org offers a number of additional good resources for teachers to consider.

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YouTube for the classroom

Numerous teaching and learning blogs announced the big news today that YouTube is beginning to offer an education-only site of videos appropriate for use in the classroom. This site will  1) disable all comments (so there will be no distraction from other viewers’ inappropriate comments), 2) offer only related videos on topic as suggestions of similar videos (no content will be suggested that can distract students from learning), and 3) “beef up” its K-12 content, much of which will be aligned to the Common Core Standards.

In addition YouTube also reported partnering with education content-creators by investing in 100 channels that will produce original material exclusive to YouTube. This material will not be available on other video sites.

Schools need to sign up to access this service in order to receive an authentication key that will allow them to modify the YouTube URL address for the videos.

Additional advantages of this initiative include:

  • School network settings can now allow teachers and students the ability to access hundreds of thousands of free educational and learning videos while still filtering access to the general YouTube site.
  • School administrators and teachers can log in to watch any video in order to customize the content available in their school.
  • Hundreds of playlists of videos  organized by subject and grade have been developed by YouTube. These playlists can help teachers spend less time searching for the “right” video.
  • In addition, teachers can create their own playlists of videos that are viewable only within their school’s network.
  • Students cannot log in to the general YouTube site. They can only watch YouTube EDU videos plus videos their school has added.
  • All comments and related videos are disabled. Search features are limited to YouTube EDU videos.
 Some useful resources:

Video presentation on this initiative

YouTube for school

YouTube.com/education

YouTube’s Teacher’s channel – to learn how to use videos in the classroom

YouTube playlists

TED education channel

Suggestions of other videos from education organizations can also be found here.