This past Spring, my school district arranged for teachers to visit other schools to observe elements of Personalized Learning recently. I loved getting to see K-5 students sitting in flexible seats, conferencing with the teacher, working in small groups, reading around the room and being happy as self directed learners.
One Kindergartener looked up at me as I passed him and his two partners who were working together on solving math problems. He smiled and exuberantly said, “We’re sticking together!” I was suddenly struck by his amazing collaboration and excitement to work with his friends until they had solved each problem!
I loved to see examples of STEM bins in a first grade class which kids use to build structures using pattern blocks or other mat manipulatives. They pick up cards that are on rings which have pictures of structures in the world that they could build. How fun!
The kids in each class in math workshop or reading workshop were focused and engaged on their activities. Some of them were working alone, in small groups, in partners or with an adult in a lesson at a table or on the floor. They were collaborating and had ownership of what they were doing. I didn’t see any child off task. They were all engaged and seemed very happy.
In an effort to increase my understanding of Personalized Learning, I attended my district’s Personalized Learning Summit. It gave me excellent resources! The CMS Personalized Digital Learning Website has examples of information shared at the Summit! I love the Personalized Digital Learning Toolkit with resources galore!
The Learner Profile articulates the characteristics of a learner. I hope you will take a look at it! It seems like that keeping learner characteristics in mind is THE PLACE TO BE!
One of my favorite experiences with partners at the Summit was watching this video. In this Piano on Stairs Video, I noticed the way that people began to take the steps to allow them to make music together instead of taking the escalator. They weren’t just taking the stairs, they were navigating the stairs because the stairs had been installed so that music notes would play as their feet pressed the steps. They collaborated and enjoyed their time on the steps. As people who were about to get on the escalator saw people making music together on the steps, they frequently would decide not to take the escalator and instead, take the steps. I love that learning appears contagious in the video. This short video speaks to the fact that students will have opportunities to learn when conditions are inviting in classrooms!
Another video about Ornie the Pig, is a wordless video. In it, Ornie sees cookies on top of a refrigerator and tries many times to get to the cookies. He reflects on what worked and what did not work. I look forward to showing my students this movie to prompt flexible thinking and a growth mindset as the school year begins.
In my class, I am working toward providing opportunities to allow learners to be able to exhibit the following characteristics from the CMS Personalized Learning Profiles:
Creative Thinkers – Plan for STREAM Learning (Science/Social Studies, Technology, Reading/Research, Engineering/Design Process, Art, Math)
Self Directed Learners – I plan to use more Choice Boards, HyperDocs, rubrics to self assess, Pathways/Playlists.
Effective Communicators – Meaningful dialogue will naturally happen as they work on individual and partner projects.
Collaboration – Accountable talk will occur as they give feedback like in the piano video!
Open Minded – Model and encourage different strategies to accomplish a task in Makerspace Stations.
Receptive – They will do Active listening as they construct Thinking Maps and other responses to reading.
Leaders – Jigsaw model – everyone has a job, model difference between being bossy and a leader, Label certain kids with strengths as an expert and encourage them to help others.
Risk Takers – Be able to continue to have stamina after the “correction” process (editing), Try again if at first you did not succeed.
Flexible/Adaptive – Create a safe environment in class. We respect all ideas and contributions from others.
I love the ideas that my district has developed around Personalized Digital Learning. I am excited about continuing my journey as an educator and developing meaningful and fun experiences that kids will want to do and find memorable!