Personalized Learning

Discover. Play. Build.

I have linked up with RuthAyresWrites this Saturday to celebrate personalized learning.  I hope you will head over to the link above to enjoy other bloggers as they share their own celebrations.  Thanks to Ruth for the space to share my excitement about personalized learning.

I will start by saying how blessed I was this week to be mentioned by Sarah Broas in her blog called littlebitofliteracy.blogspot.com.  She wrote that she looked forward to reading my blog each week.  This was the first time someone wrote such a compliment in their blog about my blog.  I love Sarah’s blog and realized this week that due to her words and the words that bloggers write, I have grown personally and professionally.  Blogging about my teaching practices has given me a voice to add to the collective choir of educators around the world. It made me feel special to know that Sarah looks forward to reading my blog and encouraged me to continue my efforts. Blogging is a way to personalize my own learning as I write about what I have learned by trying out ideas that I have developed after reading other blogs, websites or Twitter ideas. My participation in Twitter chats on Monday evenings with the #tlap chat and the #flipclass chat along with the Sunday evening chat, #21stedchat, feeds my desire to make learning personal for me.

I also am celebrating how much I am learning about how to personalize learning for my students. One of the members of my PLN, Jill Thompson of #21stedchat, shared a link last Sunday evening to a video that jolted me into examining how playlists will be the future in education. Take a look here:


One of my responsibilities at school this year is to do morning and afternoon carpool duty.  I really enjoy greeting students.  Standing in freezing temperatures has been tough for me during the winter, but after eight inches of snow last week, we had 70’s this week so the thaw is beginning!  Getting to see the backseats and floors of cars with Barbie Dolls, empty fast food cups, and various other random items as I open the back door of the cars has helped me realize that I am not the only one whose car is not spotless.  I hear parents say one more time, “I love you,” as their bundles of joy scoot out of the seat with a load on their backs and lunchbox in hand.  I have grown to eagerly await this one two-door older model car each morning in hopes that I will get to open this child’s door instead of the other staff on duty.  Why?  Simple.  The mom in the driver’s seat always encourages her child with these final words as I close the door:  “Be the best you! “.   Say this sentence three times out loud.   Isn’t it full of empowerment and a call to rise to the challenge of a new day?  This mom’s voice is filled with joy as she exudes a spirit of confidence.  Her child expects mom to say it.  I expect the mom to say it.  It’s my cup of coffee by reminding not just the child but also me to put my best foot forward and be the best me.  I heard this mom say “Be the best you!” on Friday morning just as it started sprinkling.  As the mom drove away, the bottom of the sky dropped out, lightning began and thunder roared.  It was the  worst time for parents to have to drop off their children due to torrential rain.  The wind blew the rain sideways soaking my face, my hair under my hood and my pants.  Then, after enduring the flood, I entered the school to be the best me and teach.   (Thank goodness for getting to run home and change during my planning period!)

I also want to encourage my students to individually “Be the best you!” by setting up the conditions for them to learn and grow.  I have seen students’ creativity shine as they have designed amazing technology projects this year.  I have introduced them to a variety of new technology tools which they can now choose to use when creating content.  They can reach their potential by having choices in how they demonstrate their understanding.

In schools throughout the world, teachers are also redesigning their thinking about how teachers and students use technology.  The “sage on the stage” model is becoming replaced by the “guide on the side” as teachers allow web based resources such as videos to be shown to students to introduce content prior to the face to face lesson with the teacher.  This type of lesson delivery is known as The Flipped Classroom model.

During the last two years I have heard of teachers “flipping” their classrooms by assigning their students to watch videos for homework then diving into hands on labs the next day since the content had already been introduced.  I had taken notice of Kahn Academy’s videos, You Tube videos and videos placed in Educreations which would share, for example, math concepts with students.  Delivering content via video seemed genius to me since it allowed students the chance to listen to it as many times as needed.  If they missed something, they could just play it back.  I began assigning my fourth graders last year a variety of math videos at www.learnzillion.com.  I would place the links to the videos on my website to help students and to provide their parents with resources on how to help their child understand Common Core State Standards Math.  By combining my face to face instruction with digital sources, I blended the best of me and the best resources that I could find online.  I absolutely love how www.learnzillion.com has expanded their Common Core aligned videos this year!

During this school year, I started placing topical resources together at my website thinking that students could go back as needed to websites that I had bookmarked through an innovative website called www.blendspace.com.  I embed the specific code for the Blendspace that I create into grade level tabs at my website for my K-5 students called bit.ly/elonpark.  I love that Blendspace sends me weekly reports on how many times that one of my Blendspace creations has been used.

Last weekend, while participating in the #21stedchat on Twitter (Sunday nights at 8:00 EST) Jill Thompson suggested that I make playlists for my students using www.opened.io.  I investigated OpenEd and realized that it is a clearinghouse that connects teachers with vast resources that are related to a topic.   I began to see some similarities in my Blendspace topical creations and in playlists created with OpenEd.  I also discovered www.powermylearning.com as a way to search for videos on topics that my students learn.  PowerMyLearning also lets teachers create playlists for students built around specific topics and uses rich media Sources like PBS Learning Media, Scholastic’s Study Jams, etc.  I found an awesome resource for The Great Migration from a museum in Chicago through PowerMyLearning and will use it in my current historical fiction unit.  I put together a Fables playlist using my OpenEd account this week.  The digital resources that exist just need to be harnessed and compiled into playlists so that students can use them.  I can even see how students will create their own playlists that match their interests and levels.  This past week OpenEd just released their app which will allow teachers another way to flip their classroom and personalize learning.  See gettingsmart.com for a full description of how OpenEd is aligned to Common Core State Standards and other national standards.

Blendspace For Schools has just been launched by the Blendspace creators.  I signed up this week to receive a Blendspace for Schools demonstration via a Google hangout session to learn more about how I could use Blendspace.  I discovered that this tool will allow teachers to import their preassessments for students to take, grade the preassessments, and give students appropriate remediation videos to watch to build their knowledge about the topic.  If the student has mastered the concept, then Blendspace would provide the student with the next level of instruction.  Students would watch the instructional videos that had been previously selected by the teacher then take an informal assessment to show understanding of the topic.  Blendspace would show students who did not master the concept on the teacher’s screen then those students would be pulled for a small group.  The teacher would use her Face to Face (F2F) time with students to teach them while students who already mastered the content would move on to enrichment activities.  I was amazed at the pedagogical knowledge that Blendspace has which puts the teacher in the driver’s seat by still giving the teacher control over the resources that will be shared on the Blendspace with students in a linear, row by row, format, instead of in a grid format like the basic Blendspace.  I would encourage you to contact Blendspace and ask for a demonstration of Blendspace for Schools.

I learned that while in Blendspace, teachers can click on the OpenEd icon or the Gooru icon  and then resources can be found through these sites and placed in Blendspace.  I will share the ecosystems Blendspace that I had built two weeks ago, but then added on to it using the OpenEd search feature.  Even though Basic Blendspace doesn’t have the level of personalization that Blendspace for Schools has, I still like it as a way to bookmark web resources for lessons.  I will also share a few other Blendspaces that I have created this year.

Click on this link to see my Ecosystem Blendspace: http://blnds.co/LjRw3S

Click on this link to see my Digital Storytelling Blendspace:  http://blnds.co/17imYGy

Click on this link to see my Solar System Blendspace:  http://blnds.co/1eglq4N

I have allowed personalized playlist ideas to invigorate my thought process this week.  I am beginning to see how that personalized playlists will require a shift in the way teachers plan for instruction and in how they assess students.  Students will need digital devices in their hands to use Blendspace which is a challenge for some schools.  I allowed myself to see the possibilities of how teachers can personalize learning by searching for topics at http://www.opened.io and http://www.powermylearning.com.  I am excited about what is ahead for me as I personalize learning for myself and my students.  #bethebestyou

Please share how you are personalizing learning for your students.  I am eager to know more about managing playlists for each child.

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3 thoughts on “Personalized Learning

  1. At my school there is so much individualized learning that we work with the students one at a time, so individual versus classroom goals are the norm. I enjoyed all that you shared-you are a busy teacher! Love “Be the best you!” Nice goodbye.

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