If you haven't figured it out yet... I am 100% on board with personalized learning. In fact, I am more than on board. I am an advocate (... if I do say so myself).
Personalization for me is what education always should have been, but never figured out. Now that we have the tools to really make amazing things happen, I am ready for a massive shift in how kids learn. How about you?
As a teacher (and now as an instructional coach) I bet I can guess the first concerns that come to mind...
Here are my thoughts to those...
Some kid don't do well with personalization.
This one kind of makes me laugh. Personalization, to me, means setting up content in the very best way for every student. How can they not do well if you are providing exactly what they need?
Sometimes this concern - that students fall behind or get overlooks in a personalized format - comes from a misunderstanding of personalization itself. Often time, the first glimpse we get into personalization is with pacing. Some assume that pacing is the core tenet of personalization, when really, that is just one aspect. For some students self-pacing is a nightmare - inducing stress and frustration. In fact, when I poll my students about personalized learning, they often wish there were MORE deadlines and structure. Every year, I have students that I quickly see canNOT self-pace. These are the kids I create a calendar for or with. Personalization is about the option to self pace.
Sometimes the best option is a more traditional format. (And it really kills a renegade like me).
The current education model makes it near impossible.
Correct. This is a purely true statement.
When I implemented standards based grading a few years ago, it meant working and reworking it into a model that I could enter in the gradebook. When everyone else is finalizing grades at the end of a quarter, I am the one reminding kids that quarterly grades mean nothing. Traditional education has it's claws into our platforms, practices, and attitudes, and frankly, it hasn't let up much.
That said, I am hugely encouraged by the national movement toward more personalized learning. Colleges have learned to decipher standards based grades and deemphasized standardized tests. State governments are re-writing standards to move toward a more student-focused learning experience. The national government is funding initiatives that promote voice and choice. (And before you say something like "Well that's in your state, Cwik..." I will remind you that I work in North Dakota. Check out the results from the last presidential election and then we'll talk about progressive states).
I guess my point is this: progress takes time but in my short 10 years as an educator, I've already seen a whirlwind of positive change!
If you are nervous about attempting personalization in your classroom, I suggest you talk with your admin before hand. You might be surprised to see how on-board they are with the idea. (I would guess - if they are like mine - they just want to know that you are communicating the process each step of the way to students, parents, and other stakeholders).
It's a lot of work.
Yup. It is.
No sugar-coating here. Personalization is an incredibly daunting task for some. (Ok... for all). The thought of being able to cater material to 30 individual kids every hour is insane. BUT... first of all. personalization should never result in 30 versions of the same task, and secondly, the work is just a redistribution of the work you are already doing.
Setting up a personalized class is HARD. You have to have everything for the unit created and ready to go before the kids even touch the subject. For most, that seems like an incredibly huge task... because it is. I spend hours putting together units for my kids.
That said, I am not working into the wee hours of the morning putting together content. I go home at contract time most days (or, at least, I would if I didn't spend an extra thirty minutes talking to my friends).
Instead, I just use time a little differently. For instance, I DON'T spend much time outside of class providing feedback. Instead of sitting down with a stack of 30+ essays during my prep period, I am bouncing between students in class, reading their work right next to them. When a kid submits something, I sit down with them the next day and grade it right there, and explain my feedback. It's a) faster, b) more meaningful, and c) NOT SWALLOWING MY PREP PERIOD. Usually, my prep period is working on materials for the next unit.
A personalized unit IS scary, but not impractical.
That said, I'm here to help. (Well, help AP Language and Composition teachers at least). If you don't know it already, I've created TWO yearlong curriculums for AP Language. (What?! You didn't know. Hurry up and steal all my stuff!). The first one was before the 2020 test changes. The second was suited to the new test, but didn't align to the College Board unit alignment. Can you guess where this is going?
I am reworking old content to create a College Board aligned, personalization-friendly version of the course! For each unit, I am creating vocabulary lists, resource documents, practice activities, and guides to help you try out different aspects of personalization in your classroom.
Seriously. I am so passionate about personalization that I am willing to do all the work for you. THAT's how much faith I have in this method after trying it out one step at a time in my own classroom.
Over the next few months, I'll be sharing activities and strategies for personalization. I also plan to post more "day in the life" style blogs where I walk through days in my class, in the hopes that it will help illustrate some of the things I talk about in the course design.
But for now, let's get to the goods. Presenting...
This content is designed to complete Unit 1 on the College Board alignment.
Pick the unit apart if you just want some new activities or use it in full force! More importantly, keep coming back starting in August to see more posts about what it looks like in my class.
As always, I appreciate and respect you all so much. Keep on doing the amazing things you do for kids in this country!