Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Personalized Learning

Guest Blogger - Shawn Galvin, Principal

Lincoln Elementary School



So, you have probably heard the term Personalized Learning used at a district meeting, in professional publications, or even on Facebook through Mark Zuckerberg’s multi-million dollar donation towards advancing this work. So what is Personalized Learning anyways? 

Personalized learning is about so much more than bean bags and Chromebooks. While a comfortable learning environment and technology are components that aid in personalizing the learning experience, the lack of them are not obstacles to implementing this educational philosophy.

At Lincoln Elementary School, we define Personalized Learning as an approach to learning and instruction that is designed around the individual learner’s readiness, needs, strengths, and interests. Students are encouraged to customize their learning by actively participating in setting goals, planning paths, tracking progress, and determining how learning will be demonstrated. With Personalized Learning, children learn to take ownership of their education and ultimately become life-long learners on their own journey to greatness.

Personalized Learning has a broad definition in the literature. It can be everything from placing a student on an adaptive computer system, to complete autonomy for student’s interest to solely drive learning with no alignment to standards, or, to simply differentiate the text level for reading groups. It is important to have a clear understanding of the foundational elements of Personalized Learning in order to evaluate the claim of  “personalization.” 

Simply put, Personalized Learning gives students voice and choice in their learning.

  • Students understand how they learn best so they are prepared for today, as well as their future as global citizens.
  • Students are co-designers of their learning.
  • Students take ownership of their learning.

The structure of Personalized Learning can be summed up in these questions:

  • What standard does the data show you need to learn?
  • How are you going to learn it?
  • How are you going to show me your learning?

One of the key tenants of Personalized Learning is that it should develop efficacy in students. Personalized learning leader Dr. Jim Rickabaugh states in a blog-post, “Efficacy is the belief that one is capable of producing a result, meeting a challenge or accomplishing a task. For students, efficacy or self-efficacy is the belief that they can succeed and learn… we know that students who are efficacious persist in the face of challenge, learn from failure rather than becoming trapped in it, try different approaches and strategies, and do what it takes to succeed. Rich learning often occurs from significant struggle; the presence of a strong sense of self-efficacy is important for learners to continue to stretch and grow and to move beyond present levels of skill and knowledge.” 

Personalized Learning is not a ‘canned program’ that can be purchased such as a new math series or the newest device! It is a philosophical shift that takes us from a compliance based model of education to a contribution based model. It prepares learners to be productive members of the world they will face as adults.

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