I do love a team that can visualize, research, and implement quickly. Today I’m highlighting the 5th Grade team from Lewis and Clark who is running at warp speed to develop and implement their ideas for math personalization. Meet the teachers:
This team’s goal is to personalize math by adding more choice and voice to meet the needs of all learners. The team started by breaking down their standards into Learning Targets and brainstormed multiple pathways students could potentially use to learn the concepts. They shared these resources as examples to serve as a foundation to the learning, not as a ceiling. As students become more confident in the personalized process, their teachers are hoping to see learners meeting and sharing expected outcomes in new and unpredicted ways.
In this post, we will check out three structures in place for personalizing in these 5th grade classrooms:
(1) Personalization Time
Personalization can be achieved individually or within small groups. There is a teacher on hand to answer questions and serve as a mentor ensuring students are meeting their long term goals through providing checkpoints and feedback.
Students are able to work at their own pace and are reminded of scheduled coaching and seminar sessions being run throughout the personalization time.
You might see students working on their Chromebook, accessing provided math manipulatives, discussing and working problems with other students, watching a video, or a combination of these as well as other learning activities.
When I was at Lewis and Clark, the students discussed their own
personalized learning progress and identified most of the challenges that are probably going through your head right now. Students articulated that some are really good at motivating and monitoring their progress and some are not. They understood where they needed to go in math and felt they had a clear path to achieve their goals. Students were in agreement that they enjoyed being in charge of their learning and this knowledge made them more motivated to do the work. Through real-life applications, students now see math as it applies in other situations.
Students have plenty of face-to-face time with teachers, and daily schedules serve to help meet individual needs. Here is an example of their schedules:
What I find interesting is that students only have to attend the sessions which meet their needs for gaps in learning. No student is ever turned away, but how liberating must it be to understand that progress is promoting the attendance in sessions which best meets individual needs.
Teachers work in small groups and one-on-one to give individual assistance to target learner needs.
Broader topics are taught as mini-lessons to help students practice concepts as a support of personalization time. Multiple strategies for discussion and sharing are utilized.
Why does this system work?
Team dynamics. This is a high powered professional learning community that leverages their trusting partnership to engage in heated debates over the best way to reach students. When approaching personalization, this team continually seeks out connections with outside sources to help build their understanding and solid plans for moving forward.
After speaking with two of the teachers, I’m awestruck with their capacity to analyze the learning that is happening as a means for reflecting and adjusting. I find myself nodding my head and getting excited as I hear them talk about the future of educating 5th graders! Maybe it is the perfect storm for educational reform or maybe it is just four people who know they can make a difference for kids. Either way, they are a team to watch!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how important a supportive leader is to the change process. When you have a leader who will learn with you and support what you are trying to do as you work through the ups and downs you have a rich learning environment for both students and staff. As I walked into the office one Friday afternoon, I watch Brandon, in a very animated manner, sharing additional planning and learning the team had done with their building principal, Dr. Palmer. A couple of great questions later, you could see the connection and interaction this team has made with leadership through clear communication. When unyielding support is present, changes to the learning environment are free to happen.
Want to learn more? Be sure to connect with the teachers on Twitter as well as check out Brandon’s blog as he intends to share their learning process…the ups and the downs.
I’m really excited to watch as this team progresses in the personalization process! It makes me wonder:
What are others doing to personalize learning?