“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” By Doug Firebaugh
As many of you know, for the past few months I have been working as project manager for the Bill Gates NextGen Innovative grant. This past week we was able to travel to San Francisco and visit multiple schools that have started the process in their schools to personalize learning.
One school we were able to visit was Summit Public Schools. What I enjoyed must about this school visit was the students were empowered to drive their own learning, ensuring they are prepared for success in colleges and career. How Summit became invested in making sure students were driving their own learning was because they noticed that 100% of their students were attending a 4 year college but not a 100% were graduating from a four-year college; many dropping out within the first year. This sparked them to look at their teaching practice and realize that they were providing too much assistance to the students so that once ‘on their own’ they didn’t have the skills to be successful. To support the Personalized Learning cycle, Summit has changed classroom design and added personalized learning time.
Summits classroom design is very open and most of the furniture is on wheels including the students desks and tables. This allows the teachers and students to redesign the room daily.
In this picture you can see students are working on individual learning tasks while the teacher is working 1 on 1 with a student. Notice there are devices but also there are books too. I think a fear many teachers have is that ‘traditional’ things will go away when they implement personalized learning and that is not the case.
We visited other school districts that also started implementing personalized learning and during these visits we had other take aways along with some revelations such as:
– There are lots of FREE edtech tools such as Khan that you can start using to transition into personalizing the students learning
– We are already doing a lot of personalization but it is not consistent such as balanced literacy, PBL’s and flipped classroom
– New support staff roles will help teachers optimize their instruction
– Training for everyone involved is a critical success factor for personalized learning
– Blended learning is apart of personalized learning and not separate entity
These visits really drove home that the intentional shift to personalized learning is about fundamentally changing our approach to learning and teaching; technology is an important enabler but the devices we use are just one tool for delivering this instruction. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing more about personalized learning and starting to share my thoughts and resources on making this shift.