Focus on Personalized Learning

Focus on Personalized Learning: Empowering ME & MI Learners
Posted on 01/26/2020
Teachers at Mason Elementary and Mason Intermediate Schools are excited about Personalized Learning.  They’ve engaged in their own learning journey this year alongside Learning Experience Designers, Danielle Creamer and Liz Dooley.   This learning has prompted them to explore the idea of learning pathways that allow students to achieve learning goals in a variety of ways. 

In fifth grade teacher Chelsea Wirtz’s classroom, students have been using self-reflection to define goals that grow their understanding of non-fiction reading.    Students signed up for small group seminars to learn specific strategies to achieve their personal goals. Students practiced these strategies, conquered their reading goals and then were empowered to lead seminars to teach their peers.  “My students and I have enjoyed co-creating in reader's and writer's workshop, “ Wirtz reflects. “Students are taking ownership of what they NEED to learn versus what I'd like for them to learn. When students make these decisions, I've noticed their drive for learning is dramatically more positive and motivating.  It's been a great adjustment in the way that workshop works in my classroom!”

Fourth grade teachers Julianna Traxler and Jamie Dicks know that ownership of learning is critical to deepening understanding during the learning process. Traxler recently asked her students to help design their current social studies learning pathway on timelines. She asked students to take a look at the state learning standards, sample timelines, and to share prior knowledge.  She then asked them to consider what types of skills they needed to acquire in order to demonstrate their understanding of timelines. She shared, “Social Construction (building upon one another’s ideas)  is my new favorite thing. It's really cool to see the students build off of each other at the start of a unit and develop our learning. I now realize that I was limiting how learning occurred based on my thinking. I've found that students are WAY more creative at lesson developing than I am!”    Dicks adds, “When students have a voice in developing the learning pathway, they are more invested in the work because it was their decision.”   


Amie Switzer, fourth grade teacher, has been exploring pathways with goal setting.  Each week the students work on self-selected goals related to the subject that she is teaching.  They are responsible for setting the goal, choosing their learning activities and monitoring their progress.  Switzer conferences with them throughout this process to nudge the students’ ability to reflect, adjust and adapt to achieve their goals. “I have seen them really start to get to know themselves as learners through this process, as well as become more responsible when it comes to choosing what they need most!”   By highlighting this seamless layer of reflection to the learning process, the students are able to grow as self-navigating learners.

In all of these examples, students are working alongside their teachers as active constructors of knowledge.   When we put students in the position to own the process, we empower them to meet their fullest potential. Lindsey Colvin shared, “By being mindful in providing opportunities for students to learn authentically, I have found that students have a deeper understanding of the science content because of their constant wonder, exploration, and reflective mindset.   Witnessing students understand who they are as learners and what they need to do in order to meet their goals and learning targets allows students to grow exponentially.”

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