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
implemented. This was the first on-the-ground check in since the Wave 1 schools started the transition to PL.
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.
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 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.
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 them… their 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, 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!
The District’s PL Council is comprised of educators across the district, representing a variety of grade levels, geographic areas, and academic content areas. The PL Council’s objective is to help guide the district-level decisions and direction for what personalized learning looks like in KPBSD.
School District Representation:
- Sean Dusek–Superintendent
- John O’Brien–Assistant Superintendent of Instruction
- Eric Soderquist–Director of Information Services
- John Pothast–Director of Elementary & Secondary Education
District Specialists Representation:
- Darci Drury–Professional Development/Instructional Coach
- Melissa Linton–Curriculum Coordinator
- Kersten Gomez–Redoubt Elementary School
- Jen Booz–Homer Middle School
- Meredith McCullough–Kenai Central High School
- Kim Leslie–Distance Education
- Doug Hayman–Tustumena Elementary, Hope, and Cooper Landing Schools
- Sarge Truesdell–Skyview Middle School
- Trevan Walker–Seward High School
I think my classroom works fine and my students are learning. Why do I need to “do” this?
Personalized learning is not a program. Personalized learning is not a piece of technology that may or may not fit within the structure of any particular classroom. Rather, personalized learning is the structuring of schools, classrooms, and instruction so we can better respond to the individual needs of students, in contrast to the expectation that students fit a current mold or adapt to structures that may not be successful for them.
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.
Because of this, all teachers are expected to work with their principals, school leadership teams, district leadership team and Education Elements. This process and commitment will allow our staff to explore, define, and implement strategies and tools that will allow all teachers to deliver effective instruction and empower all learners to shape their futures. KPBSD students will pursue their dreams in a rigorous, relevant, and responsive environment.
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