Tag: personalized learning

Spending Time

November 27, 2012 by

Time is one of the most precious commodities in a school, and students should know how to spend their time wisely.  Students frequently expect their teachers to direct all of their time, and they assume that they are free to hang out or socialize if they don’t perceive that they have been specifically directed. This underlying assumption is so pervasive in many school cultures that it isn’t even recognized as a problem. It is, however, a key competency—and independent time management is almost a requirement in a competency-based classrooms.

Teachers universally agree that there is not enough time in the day to do all of the things that are expected. Part of that time crunch stems from the fact that whole class instruction is still a prevalent mode of delivery, and this method inherently wastes a lot of time. Teachers gravitate to whole class instruction because it offers a sense of control and it is easier to manage. Our experience has told us that kids who aren’t being managed are likely to be off task. This doesn’t have to be the case, but it does require some explicit changes in the way that adults talk to students about time.

Teachers have to understand that kids passively wait to be directed because that’s what they have been taught to do. In order to have kids understand that they are responsible for active learning at all times, they have to be taught this expectation and they have to be taught how to manage their time. In my own classroom, I see students in grade 5-8 for a quarter every year. The first time that they come to my room, they sit down and wait for something to happen. That is probably what they do everywhere, but I want them to learn to get their work out as soon as they arrive. That means that I have to devote time to creating an activity that young students, who possess limited executive skills, can initiate independently, and I have to prompt them repeatedly at each arrival. Eventually, they start to get it, and I no longer have to tell them to get started without me. Of course, they are only in my class for a quarter of the year, so they need a little reminder when they come to class the next year, but, in the end, they know that they are expected to get to work as soon as they arrive in my room. Students who are in other classes where this is the expectation find it easier to become self-directed, primarily because the expectation is reinforced by multiple adults in various situations. Those students come to expect that it is their responsibility to get to work. (more…)

Getting Butts Out of Seats and Kids Out of Ruts

October 30, 2012 by

Take a minute to see the Colorado Legacy Foundation‘s incredible video.  It is a vibey, upbeat, inspiring video that sets the direction for next gen learning.

This video says it all. Thanks to CLF for getting it so-right.

Snare Your Students

October 26, 2012 by

Students who are caught up in what they are doing don’t need to be managed, and students who succeed become self-propelling. If you can find a way to make your students’ work personal and meaningful, they will offer extraordinary efforts in the classroom. They willingly pursue challenges that personally matter to them.

I once had a student, Average Joe, who put in no more effort than was necessary for him to ensure that he was eligible to play sports. He was a nice kid, but he didn’t find art exciting. Then I decided to see if I could get my students more engaged by letting them make all of the decisions about their projects. I still identified the concept that they needed to demonstrate, but I let the students design the work that they wanted to do in order to show that they understood the skills and concepts.

The result was that most of the students did better quality work than they had ever done. Average Joe’s engagement was the most startling because he had to publicly defend his change of attitude to his peers. Some of his classmates were perplexed by his sudden dedication to art, but he told them plainly that what he was doing was “his” and because it was his, he wanted it to be “right.” That day, I saw the real power of engagement. I saw Average Joe intrinsically motivated. (more…)

What the Learning Sciences Tell Us About Competency Education

August 8, 2012 by

At a recent meeting sponsored by iNACOL to think deeply about competency and assessment, we talked about what impact the last few decades of learning science should have on doing the best job planning and using competencies for learning.

The good news is the learning science lines up with the idea of personalizing instruction, and the pace of instruction, for individual learners:  they’re likely to be more motivated, and more successful, if they can work and master at different rates, doing different things, to get to the same competencies.

However, not every way you could conceive of making learning personalized is likely to match how learning and expertise actually work.  Let’s look at a few examples of how learning science can guide us: (more…)

Responding to Each Student’s Needs and Interests

July 16, 2012 by

Cecilia Le, Senior Project Manager, Jobs for the Future

What would an education system look like that responded to each student’s needs and interests – and based their progression on their individual mastery of vital skills and competencies? And what would it take to get there? These were some of the big questions at Jobs for the Future’s (JFF) Students at the Center symposium. A diverse audience of 150 leading practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and funders came together to discuss the findings of nine syntheses of research on student-centered approaches to learning, funded by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF). For two days, we approached education from the perspective of the learner, grappling with how to harness old wisdoms and new technologies to make teaching and learning work for each and every student. We heard more than a few people comment that the Common Core State Standards are providing us a precious but narrow window in which people are paying close attention to what actually happens in the classroom. So how can we capitalize on this moment? (more…)

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