Thursday, December 1, 2011

Personalized Learning for Every Student - What I'm learning...

I'm learning a TON about personalizing learning for every student as my classroom begins to be more and more personalized for each student's individual needs, interests and readiness.

Where I'm working from:

  • Utilizing backwards design,
  • Having rubrics for each objective,
  • Understanding differentiation,
  • Understanding growth mindset (more on that later),
  • In a standards-based graded classroom,
  • In 6th grade science.

What I'm learning:

  • Using the phrase: "Acquiring new knowledge" for things like notes and readings makes that process less painful for students
  • Using the phrase: "Practicing" for labs, worksheets, and activities makes them more intriguing for students.
  • Being able to ask the students: "Are you ready to assess?" and being okay if they say no, is powerful.
  • Being able to prescribe specific lessons, notes, readings, activities to improve student performance on specific topics is POWERFUL!
  • Hearing my students talk about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose and understand my role in this process is enlightening for all of us.
  • The phrase: "You just need more practice" is a lot less threatening than a poor grade and a you don't know this.
  • Without trying, I've set up a growth midset where my students all believe they can achieve the objective and don't stop practicing until they do.
  • There are some students that need to sit near me to stay focused.
  • Size of the room makes a HUGE difference in the ability to do this style of classroom management.
  • Asking students to check in with me, or show me an assignment or quiz after it's complete cuts down on my grading and increases my feedback.
  • There are some times lines that students have to wait in while I help another students that needs my attention. (Gotta work around this).
  • Students work independently much faster, get more opportunities and are more accurate than when working with me.  At times not to the depth I'm able to take it to though.

What my students are saying:

  • I think it was awesome because we could do experiments for making a poster
  • I think it was fun that we get to pick our own practice, partners, and what we get to do.
  • I liked it, because we had more freedom to do what we needed to do in our own way
  • I liked it because we worked at our own pace.
  • I liked doing what I want to do when I want do it.
  • I liked how we could watch video, practice, and take the test...
  • I liked how you could work ahead easier.
  • I liked going at your own pace.
  • I didn’t like it, partners who said they were going to work go ahead. (Sometimes students want to work with someone without the realization that every student works at their own pace).
  • I still kinda needed you to tell me what to do...
  • I liked it, but its harder... we really had to read the procedure for the lab instead of you telling us what to do.
  • It was harder, I felt off schedule.
  • I didn't like it, too easy to get distracted.
  • I liked it because with the group i could focus more.
  • I liked that I got a lot more stuff done.
  • I like getting to choose when we take our tests.
  • I liked being able to figure out how much practice we needed.
  • I liked how we worked at our own pace.
  • I liked how we got to work in groups.
  • I liked the schedule.
  • I didn’t like having to turn the quiz in to you. (No place to hide!!)
  • I didn’t like the organization of the room. ( I need to think about ways to roganize the room.)
  • If someone is doing something more interesting it might be distracting. (We had laser pointers out that distracted many 11 year olds.)
  • I didn't like people around you distracting you
  • I think it's hectic because people were doing different things
  • I didn't like how loud the room gets.
  • I didn't like how some students were not focused on what they needed to do.
  • I liked how everyone was so relaxed and doing what they wanted.
  • I got a lot done
  • I liked not having to wait for the other person to finish, I could move at my pace.

What's next?

  • Students are finishing my curriculum early with classes left to work on a topic of their choice.  Remembering to focus on "Recovering" topics they weren't totally understanding or "Discovering" a new topic that interests them.
  • I will post student work created from their personalized learning plans on my Student tech blog located here.
  • Collect summative assessment data and compare to a non-personalized environment.
  • Continue to develop new activities and lessons to support each learning objective.
  • Continue to "flipteach" and record my lectures and labs for students to work at their own pace.
  • I'm presenting on this topic with hard data and results at METC in St. Louis.  You should join me!
  • E-mail @stumpteacher to see how I'm doing.  Everyone needs a mentor!

Want to read more? Read about how Personalized learning got started in my classroom here!


  1. I am sure this is going to help most of the students..It is a nice blog on the student point of view..Thanks for sharing this wonderful post..

  2. Chris, I just wanted to comment on your blog. I found it via your Don't Forget Your Place! post. I bought that book this past November in hopes that it would have some insights into how we could get people to come around to reform in our school. It saddened me to hear that one of your colleagues would react that way to what is obviously an amazing opportunity. My teaching partner and I have faced similar roadblocks and "bubble poppers" when we suggest great books to read or sites to visit. So I was reading that post then went to your latest post about personalized learning! I love it! What great ideas. We currently teach a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classroom with 2 teachers and 50 kids. We have had to work our way through making learning meaningful for our kids and have definitely learned that putting our kids in control of their learning has made all the difference. Keep up the great work! I look forward to hearing more about your experiences as the year progresses. ~Ann