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

Where are we in Our PL Journey?

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has been working with Education Elements for a year now. And in that time, there have been great strides made toward expanding the teaching and learning practices that we have in the district. An unintended consequence of taking a very reflective look at how we do business was that the innovative practices of teachers around the district have come clearly to light. You see, education is often a very individually based profession. Educators are so busy doing their portion that they rarely get to hear about what others are doing or share what they are doing in their own practices. Exciting to see the unique things that students, teachers, and principals are doing across the district!

Our work with Education Elements is set for a 3 year duration culminating in a sustainability phase that continues indefinitely into the future of our work. We are one year into that 3 year stretch. There are 3 waves (or groups) of schools moving through this process as mentioned in the previous post “The Long Runway”. Each wave moves through a series of 5 trainings and 3 site visits in their work with Ed Elements.

Here is where we are in this journey…

Wave 1 is wrapping up their work with Ed Elements here at the end of the school year. They are moving into the sustainability phase of the personalized learning work. We are spending our efforts developing long term processes for continual reflection and iteration (changes or updates) to the work that we do.

Wave 2 is halfway through their training series. They are spending the bulk of their time right now designing personalized learning structures and strategies for their classrooms and schools. They are deep in the work of trying out more personalized approaches with their students and empowering students to be reflective learners that more fully own their education. Even though the work is still in progress, teachers like Carlyn Nichols and Laura Niemcyzk are diving head first into innovative practices.

Wave 3 will soon be having their first site visits and delving into the first of the training series that Ed Elements offers. This wave consists more completely of the large high schools and so will have perhaps the largest shifts in practices. It is exciting to highlight teachers like Kristin Davis at Kenai Central High School, Eric Pomerleau at Soldotna High, Kim Leslie of the Distance Education program, and Sean Campbell at Homer High School among so many others for paving the way to more personalized education at the secondary level.

As we look forward into the remaining time of our partnership with Education Elements, the waves will continue through the training series and in another year or so, the entire district will be into the sustainability phase of this work. It will be amazing to see what the collaborative structures for reflecting and sharing our practices are as we move forward.

Other aspects of our PL journey include the updating of the curriculum and resources that are available for teachers to use. The process has begun to move each content area through a re-design/update of the curriculum and collecting the resources and materials that teachers will need to implement it. The final component of this is the technology support integration aspect. As the PL practices become solidified and the resources/materials needed are identified, it will be the natural next step to build the technology component of the PL scene in KPBSD.

For a brief and visual overview of this post, please check out the Riding the Wave infographic. So much progress made… much more coming! Exciting times in KPBSD!

PL in the Bigger Picture

The implementation of Personalized Learning in KPBSD is directly related to the 5-year strategic plan that our school board put in place this year. PL is allowing us to more directly meet the vision and mission through guiding principles listed on the district seal (right). Using the Core Four, we can clearly see how each aspect integrates with these principles of ready, rigor, relevance, and responsive. When considering the guiding principle of “ready”, student reflection and ownership provides for building both grit and perseverance, while data driven decisions allows educators to monitor academic indicators and benchmarks. If we are doing both of those Core Four aspects, our students will indeed be “ready”. In fact, all of the guiding principles align to one or more of the Core Four aspects.

AK Ed ChallengePersonalized Learning is bigger than just KPBSD though… There is a statewide effort at play here. Districts around the state are heavily invested in building PL capacity. This is largely due to efforts to meet the Alaska Education Challenge. The Governor has put this challenge in the forefront of how districts are doing business through 3 very clear commitments – Increase student success, Cultivate safety and well-being, and Support responsible and reflective learners. When we consider the commitment of “Increase Student Success”, this aligns directly to KPBSD’s guiding principles of “ready” and “rigor”. The principles are in action on the ground in PL through data driven decisions, targeted instruction, and flexible content and tools.  Likewise, we also find that KPBSD is dedicated to focusing on the commitments of the AK Ed Challenge through personalized learning. Consider how KPBSD’s work crosswalks with the 3 Commitments in the image below!

For more about the Alaska Education Challenge and KPBSD’s Strategic Plan, please refer to the links below:

DEED AK Challenge

AK Challenge Report

AK Ed Challenge White paper

KPBSD Strategic Plan

KPBSD Key Performance Indicators

Crosswalk image for AK Ed Challenge and PL in KPBSD

 

 

PL Abounds in KPBSD

At the end of January, the Wave 1 schools had their first Learning Walks where the Education Elements team and the School PL teams visited classrooms to celebrate the personalized learning being

Student tracking chart for standards

Data Driven

implemented.  This was the first on-the-ground check in since the Wave 1 schools started the transition to PL.

Students working in a small group with their teacher.

Targeted Instruction

The Learning Walk process consists of the teams visiting classrooms and taking notes on a shared tool to highlight PL practices.  The Ed Elements team visited over 50 classrooms across the nine Wave 1 schools with the focal point of those visits being centered on the Core Four:  Targeted Instruction, Data Driven Decisions, Flexible Content & Tools, and Student Reflection & Ownership. Each of the Wave 1 schools have selected one of the Core Four as a primary focus, so the evidence they gathered was specific to each school’s goals.

The evidence and notes from the team were collated into a school level report for the school’s review and use.  Each school report gives highlights of observed PL in classroom and school-wide trends, along with questions and ideas for schools to consider in the next steps of their PL journeys.  All of those school reports were then compiled into a District Summary which highlighted districtwide trends. Some of those trends include:

Evidence of PL Models – Learning Walks reveal that teachers have committed to implementing PL instructional models and a wide range of tactics across the Core Four.

A playlist of options for students choice to be built into a lesson.

Student Choice

Student Engagement – Not only did the team observe high levels of student engagement across the classrooms, but many students were able to articulate what they were working on and why.

Student using multiple content options.

Flexible Content

Student Choice – With a large focus on student reflection and ownership, we saw several classrooms providing students choice – particularly in order of completion or pace through a set list of activities. Students are demonstrating a strong level of independence!

Use Flexible Content and Tools – Teachers are seeking out content that addresses the objectives and needs of their students. Not only are they making use of the digital content that is available, but they are also providing a variety of activities that are not digital – these include hands-on and various practice materials.  Click here for more ideas in this area that do not require technology or devices.

 

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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