Monday, April 8, 2013

Designing Personalized Learning for Every Student

Designing Personalized Learning for Every Student is a collaborative effort, a collection of work published together by ASCD.  This grabbed my attention while reading the preface, "These contributors are now the new hybrid educators who are engaged in reinventing schools into unified systems, where all the teachers and every student contribute to the learning and growth of the community of schooling."  

Then, as I began reading the introduction I knew this book was going to provoke my thinking.  "...the real purpose of schooling for any student, no matter how able or disabled, is simple: to enable all students to actively participate in their communities so that others care enough about what happens to them to look for ways to incorporate them as members of that community."

There is one more direct quote I need to share with you to help you follow my new learning.  "A unified educational system is based on the principle that each student represents a unique combination of abilities and educational needs and deserves individual help at various times throughout schooling to achieve important outcomes."

We know student learning is the outcome from our teaching.  I think sometimes right now with a lot of changes facing us we are focusing on learning as a means of content.  This book is reminding us that learning includes relationships and information.  One way to foster relationships and gather information to help plan learning is to use an ABA - Activity Based Assessment.  In the past, I have just skimmed the surface with a get to know you/interest survey/interview.  An ABA is quiet in-depth and looks for information about the student in three areas; caring for self, family, and friends, contributing to the community, and enjoying leisure and recreation.  Something I haven't done in the past is to let the student and their parents fill out an ABA at home and send it in to me.  I love having one on one time to get to know students but I don't have the time to  learn about the range of items an ABA could find.  The information from the ABA is then used as learning is planned for each student.

In looking at conditions, opportunities, and tasks for student learning I found the chapter on curriculum design quite helpful as it talked about three decision making situations.  We have some students that need an enriched curriculum where the student is shown a usefulness for their learning and create excitement for learning.  We have some students who need an enhanced curriculum because they learn quickly and others who need it enhanced because they struggle.  While trying to figure out how to enhance a curriculum we need to understand what type of learners we are teaching.  How can we draw on their multiple intelligences  Another decision we have to make as educators is to overlap or embed the curriculum.  How can we integrate and make connections for student learning?

Other topics discussed in this book are centered around family involvement where families are co-planners and work together to help with many aspects of learning.  The examples provided here are from a kindergarten classroom.  I really enjoyed reading about these ideas.  Long range planning and weekly planning are discussed.  There is a great chapter on mixed abilities and finding balance with our instruction.  This book touches on everything.  The final chapter addresses assessment.  When talking about personalized learning assessment needs to have three components; skills and content, performance, and self understanding.  This chapter ties in nicely with formative and summative assessment thinking.  A few examples for a generic scoring rubric where all children are allowed to feel successful has me thinking about this for next year.

If you are looking for a summer professional book, I would recommend this one.

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