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

Tag: teach

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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Innovation and change in KPBSD classrooms

This seems like a lot of work, and for what? Why are we always being asked to change and innovate?



Sir Ken Robinson, a leading advocate for innovation in education, says that,

“Innovation is hard because it means doing something that people don’t find very easy. It means challenging what we take for granted.”

This is challenging work, but it is important work right now! We are preparing students for a world that is vastly different than it was twenty years ago, let alone the world in which our education system was first created over a hundred years ago. Our students are entering a global environment unlike any experience in the past, and are entering a workforce where the top employer expectations are more different than the “factory model” of the past. In a 2013 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the top five skills employers say they seek are:

  • Obtain and process information
  • Work in a team
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization

These types of skills are valued in today’s economy. Personalizing education for our students is a means to ensure our kids are not exposed to them for the first time once they leave school.

It would be better to describe this as a different process, in contrast to hard. We will still be using curriculum materials like we have always done, but they may be adapted differently. We will continue to use Professional Learning Communities to talk about student progress, but will have real-time data to help guide decisions. Good teaching has always put student needs at the center, and great teaching has always differentiated instruction for individual student needs—going forward we will have better tools and training to fulfill that promise to our students.

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