At the beginning of second term, personalisation of writing was implemented. This was done using two methods. Ability grouping for writing conventions, and interest based for writing genres.
Writing conventions groups were created in the same way as maths workshop groups, using Adaptive On Demand Testing. As with maths, a large spread was identified across the 100 students. This has allowed targeted teaching to the specific needs of the students. This is Personalisation For the Learner.
Student input was relied on heavily when determining the genres studied in the High Interest groups. This was achieved using a Google Survey with a range of questions relating to the different genres of writing. The topics have rotated on a four to five week basis with students being able to nominate from four different workshops each time. This could best be described as Personalisation By the Learner.
So one of the tasks I have for the Masters in School Leadership (MSL) this semester is to initiate a network of colleagues around my Action Research Project. The research question is currently defined as “Does personalised learning have a positive effect on student learning outcomes?” I have toyed with various ideas for the creation of my network, and I am currently leaning towards an online presence for the network. As personalised learning and 21st Century Learning are so complementary, it makes sense to me to develop it this way.
Could I use Twitter? Quite easily. It’s asynchronous. The communication happens instantly. The network can grow exponentially, all it takes is a hash tag. And a twitter account. The network is limited to local colleagues, it can draw upon the expertise, knowledge and skills of educators at all levels from across the globe.
Blog based? Users can contribute to a blog post, leave comments etc. Resources can be shared. Ideas and words remain available for a longer period of time. Members don’t need to be registered with twitter. However, it’s harder to get the word out for people.
Perhaps a combination of the two?
Some other technologies that could be incorporated: Elluminate for real time video conferencing. Google Docs.
I shall think further on the implications for the network and come to a decision soon.
Maths workshops – So far this year we’ve been using Maths workshops for targeted, needs specific teaching in Maths Strands (Number, Space, MCD). We just over 100 Year 6 kids there is quite a spread of abilities, from working at VELS level 2, which equates to around two years below the expected level, to level 5.5, which is about 2 years ahead of the expected level. In one classroom with that big a spread, it’s difficult to give specific needs based teaching to each child. Workshops allow us to put like ability kids together.
Inquiry – Inquiry has also become a big push throughout our school as well. The role of the teacher has changed from the content deliverer to one of facilitator of learning opportunities for our students. Using inquiry in Science and Humanities alongside explicit teaching, students are able to follow topics that are of high interest to them. Hand in hand with high interest goes engagement.
As we progress through the year, there’ll be more things that we do differently to what we have done in the past, and I’ll post information about each of those things too.
Often when teachers hear the term ‘personalised learning’ and believe it to be a completely open ended system of teaching and learning, but personalised learning still holds explicit teaching at it’s core. Explicit teaching that is tightly focussed and targeted to specific student needs. In the majority of settings, personalised learning is already being used in various forms, Individual Learning Plans, ability grouping and differentiation. But these methods are teacher centric, true personalised learning is a student centric pedagogy. One where students decide on the path of their learning in collaboration with teachers by setting short term goals, and developing a path to succeed.
However, personalised learning doesn’t just happen oven night. It is a massive pedagogical shift. Teachers shift their role to that of a facilitator of learning, rather than a supplier of curriculum content. Students shift their role from passive knowledge sponge to be a social constructor of knowledge. Students need to take greater responsibility for their learning and to develop the competencies of flexibility and adaptability for their continued success in our rapidly changing and shrinking world.
This rapid social change and the sheer volume of new knowledge being created daily are two of the catalysts for the required shift in curriculum. The content we expect the students to acquire by the time they graduate school is outdated by then, and is superseded by the rapidly evolving new knowledge. The jobs they will work in, haven’t been invented yet. The skills of regurgitating second hand knowledge and answering questions on an exam to prove their subject knowledge are becoming rapidly obsolete. Those are Industrial Age skills. Sure they are still relevant in the Post Industrial Age to an extent, but they are not the ways in which our students learn and work to the highest possible range of their abilities.
Well, perhaps not the beginning, but in the recent past; education has been a teacher centric, from the top down, content transfer system. As we progress through the 21st Century, it is predicted that radical changes to pedagogical practice will be required to better equip our students for life and work in the 21st Century.
Throughout this blog I have enabled the use of comments to allow for discourse on the topics that I post on, to construct and synthesize a base of knowledge around personalised learning, improving student outcomes and education in the 21st Century. Comments and discussion are also facilitated through the Forums page
The birds? They are all the same birds, yet they are all different. No bird has the same expression or is in the same position. Quite like our students. Which reminds me of Theodore Sizer “No two are quite alike”