Personalized Learning in KPBSD

Where do you want your learning to take you and how can KPBSD help you get there? #PLinKPBSD

Category: District story

PL on the Ground and Running

Often, phrases like “What does Personalized Learning look like in the classroom?” are heard bantered back and forth as we move farther down this runway.  Well, there are a 1,000 answers to this as each teacher, each group of kids, and each scenario is unique. In this post, we will take a brief look into just one possible scenario for a glimpse of what is possible by sharing the practices of Amy Angleton, an English/Language Arts teacher at Skyview Middle School.

Amy has taken the weekly schedule for her classes and created a consistent rotation schedule for the students. Each day of the week offers something unique for the students. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, they move through stations in the classroom that include independent work that includes technology integration for delivering some content, collaboration with other students, and application of the writing process with one-to-one conferencing with the teacher.

Let’s dive further into the  conferencing, because this is the heart of the beauty in this. Amy has the opportunity to meet with each student individually to guide, support, teach, and reflect with the student about themtheir needs… their successes.  This type of student reflection and goal setting is directly connected to the Core Four of Personalized Learning discussed in previous posts. She meets with them anywhere from 1-3 times individually along with all the general class time interaction.

Amy Angleton Profile Pic

Amy Angleton, ELA @Skyview Middle

 

The benefits for Amy and her students are crystal clear.  She knows her students on a personal level that has never been achieved before this point in her career. This is all about them and their individual needs! This makes grading into teaching and offers so much more opportunity for investment from the students. It is important to note that the logistics of shifts like this take dedication to really figure out a system, but no one says it better than Amy herself, “I can honestly say that I have never felt more effective as a teacher than I do with one-on-one conferencing.” 

So there you have it… an on the ground example of one way PL might look in action. For more on Amy’s story with one-to-one conferencing, check out this teacher feature!

Data Strong – Speaking of the Core Four

Data Driven Decisions - Frequent Data collection informs instructional decisions and groupings.

Of the Personalized Learning Core Four discussed in the last post, KPBSD has many strengths! One area that practices are particularly strong in is Data Driven Decisions. From the highest levels of the KPBSD machine to the small group specialized work with students, we are monitoring and utilizing data to drive our work.

Data Driven Decisions, as explained in Considering the Core Four, simply means that we frequently collect data to inform instructional decisions and student groupings. It also means that we use data purposefully, both at the student and teacher level, that we use formative (as you go) assessments to inform our decisions, and that we are developing a culture of openness toward use of data and feedback.

From a district level, one example of this is using progress monitoring assessment data to keep track of student growth. This data is usually more meta in scope – districtwide and occurring throughout the school year.  We use this information to guide the choices that are made regarding both district and school improvement. Such data is crucial in helping the district to identify trends and needs, then helping guide decisions in allocating support, materials and resources.

For the school level, this means meeting the needs of students through data use. The data here is usually specific to the school or a specific group within a school. School staff monitor how their school is demonstrating learning and use data to make intervention or support plans. Teachers and specialists use the afore mentioned progress monitoring to group students based on their needs, and even further alter their instruction for the student by frequently reviewing the data and letting it inform them of student needs. This allows for closing gaps in student learning efficiently.

For the student level, this means that students themselves are learning how to review the results of the assessments that they take to see how they are progressing in their own learning goals. The data here is specific to the student as an individual and students are beginning to diagnose for themselves what they need to move forward. This is the most pure form of driving learning… Student Driven.

What is Personalized Learning?

 

PL Core Four graphic 2017

The most commonly accepted definition, from International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), is:

Personalized Learning (PL) is tailoring learning for each student’s strengths, needs and interests—including enabling student voice and choice in what, how, when, and where they learn—to provide flexibility and supports to ensure mastery at the highest standards possible.

Personalized learning is the structuring schools, classrooms, and instruction so we can better respond to the individual needs of students, instead of expecting students to fit the current mold or adapt to structures that may not be successful for them. Many of our teachers implement elements of personalized learning in their classrooms right now. Key elements include:

  • Flexible Content and Tools: Instructional materials allow for differentiated path, pace, and performance tasks
  • Targeted Instruction: Instruction aligns to specific student needs and learning goals
  • Data Driven Decisions: Frequent data collection informs instructional decisions and groupings
  • Student Reflection and Ownership: Ongoing student reflection promotes ownership of learning

Personalized learning is about continuing and improving our shift away from the one-size-fits-all, factory model of education to better prepare students for the jobs and needs of their future. We want to directly connect students to rigorous learning that is relevant and prepares them for life, college, and careers they will encounter after high school, and create a system that supports this approach.

“The modern concept of personalized learning leverages technology tools, classroom organization, student ownership, and redefines the terms teaching and learning to help teachers truly meet the individual needs of students in their classrooms. Through this process, we create new classroom environments that allow students to do some work at their own pace, path and place, and some work directly with small group instruction from the teacher, which allows teachers to better focus instruction and target student needs.” –Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

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