Tag Archives: Personalized Learning

The Mindset of Grit: Learning & the Brain Conference Fall 2018

Learning and the Brain Conference in Boston this weekend examined the science of human potential, passion, talents and grit. Bringing together researchers, authors, and experts in their fields, the conference states:

By studying child prodigies, savants, and great innovators like Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, scientists are trying to answer the complex questions of human potential: What makes a person a “creative genius”? Is “greatness” the result of innate talent or practice? 

The conference kicked off on Friday with sessions on personalized learning, problem based learning, digital learning, mindfulness, the science of innovation, and personalized learning. Keynotes included Scott Kaufman, PhD addressing Personal Greatness and Gail Saltz, MD speaking about the power of difference, Robert Sternberg, PhD spoke about teaching for wisdom, intelligence, creativity, and success and Ransom Stephens, Phd addressed Your Pursuit of Greatness. Sunday’s keynote, Sir Ken Robinson, PhD was titled,  “You, Your Child, and School: Teaching to their Talents, Passions, and Potential.”

My mind is spinning with the amount of greatness and learning buzzing at the conference. Here are a few key take aways to reflect and act on based on this experience in Boston.

“Outliers in the distribution of human achievement, they are not just a bit better than most at their chosen vocation, but dramatically so. . . We are not born knowing how to write a sonnet or flip an omelet. On the contrary, human expertise, at all points in the distribution—including the far-right tail—is acquired.” – Scott Barry Kaufman and Angela Duckworth

“Attaining a certain level of expertise in a given domain gets you in the door and starts your career. It puts you on the playing field among others who have put in the time, effort, and commitment to building up the necessary exper- tise base. Yet to rise to the very top of a creative domain — to achieve true greatness — seems to require even more (and average of 10 years more).  – Scott Barry Kaufman

The availability and use of technology has impacted student attention, working memory, and thinking.

“Personalized learning to me is student inquiry and investigation guided by teachers who carefully craft the learning process.” — Angela Townsend

“In personalized learning, a teacher defines and establishes clear learning objectives but provides students a variety of way in which to achieve these. It requires a teacher to relinquish control and expectations for linear, and uniform learning.” — David Ruiz

“The power of teachers isn’t in the information they share, but in the opportunities they create for students to learn how to learn, solve problems, and apply what they learn in meaningful ways.” – Katie Martin

The testing culture has soaked up billions of taxpayer dollars with no real
improvement in standards. Achievement levels in math, science, and languages
have hardly changed, and neither has the international ranking of the United States
in these disciplines.

By most criteria, Finland has one of the most successful education systems in the world.
Much of its success is due to the commitment and expertise of its teachers. Teaching is
a highly respected profession in Finland, and there is intense competition to join it. What
Finland shows is that rather than tempt those with the highest academic qualifications
into teaching, it’s better to design initial teacher education to attract people who have a
natural passion and aptitude to teach for life.

Sir Ken Robinson

Failure is where the new knowledge comes from, if you fail, you will keep going and ask different questions and get better. Keep pushing. Failure motivates people to be great. – Xiaodong Lin

“Our job as teachers is not to “prepare” kids for something; our job is to help kids learn to prepare themselves for anything.” – AJ Juliani

 

 

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4 Ways to Personalize Reading for All Learners

This post was written for ISTE’s Blog on 4/17/2018.

To be successful learners, students need to be proficient readers. Our classrooms are filled with a broad spectrum of readers: some are advanced, some struggle, some are English language learners and others are reluctant readers. And there may be other types of readers you can identify in your classroom.

As a result, teaching is not “one size fits most.” We need a variety of approaches — and for a variety of mediums. Teachers must not only address functional literacy, which includes reading of visual, print and digital text, but also encourage students to be critical consumers of information and effectively communicate their thinking about these texts.

Technology has allowed teachers to diversify their teaching and provides leverage for all students to succeed. More important than the technology tools you use, however, is that you create meaningful classroom experiences to promote reading, critical thinking and digital literacy.

Here are four strategies and digital tools to curate personalized learning and reading experiences that expand student knowledge and promote critical thinking, digital citizenship and the literacy skills of proficient readers:

HyperDocs and playlists. Similar to a Google Doc, these digital documents allow you to pull together learning resources in one place. The document contains hyperlinks to all aspects of the inquiry unit — videos, slideshows, images and activities for students to complete and gain understanding. Students have multi-modal opportunities for learning, and there is less teacher lecturing at the front of the class.

HyperDocs allow students to work at their own pace and offer a road map for student learning. Depending on the HyperDoc the teacher makes, differentiated activities and technology-rich assignments can help students learn and show their understanding while completing the activities included on the HyperDoc. Teachers might have students complete only a certain number activities on the HyperDoc or require students to do them all.

Differentiated choice boards. These can range from no-tech to high-tech and are another way to provide students with individualized learning by providing choices or options based on their readiness, interests and learning preferences (think multiple intelligences). As education author Carol Ann Tomlinson explains, differentiation is a way of “tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Differentiation can be based on content, process, products or the learning environment.”

Through differentiation and choice, you can provide alternative ways for students to learn and show what they know. Choice menu boards are a great way to do this and, once again, technology can help.

You can create choice activities for before, during and after reading to highlight reading strategies, content understanding and multiple intelligences. Whether in the form of a Bingo board or a Think-Tac-Toe, choice in the classroom empowers students, while at the same time adheres to learning goals. When students are able to select choices that most appeal to them and that they’re comfortable completing, they can master the activity and move on to more challenging activities.

Quest-based learning adventures (and gamification). This approach to learning connects game mechanics with content objectives to promote learning and deepen student understanding. Through gamification, you can transform literacy instruction into a game with creativity, collaboration and play while still meeting Common Core State Standards and ISTE Standards for Students.

Exactly how you bring games and game playing into the classroom is really a matter of thinking creatively and playfully about what you already do. For example, you could tie assignments to point values and badges that students could then use to unlock privileges, such as a homework pass or preferential seating.

As with choice menus, students would choose which assignments to complete and when, but with the aim of collecting as many points as possible or a “literacy champion” selection of badges. Alternately, you could organize an overarching mission in which assignments are like a sequence of game levels. Students would need to successfully complete each assignment in order to “rank up” to the next and eventually complete all the required material.

Digital reading platforms. Actively Learn and Newsela are just two platforms that offer accessible text that you can use to build comprehension and conversations in the classroom. Both are available free for teachers and students, or you can upgrade to the subscription-based pro versions. In both versions, teachers can embed quizzes, annotations and writing prompts with every reading. The pro edition adds such features as the ability to view individual student progress, track student progress against the Common Core State Standards, and for students and teachers to see each other’s article annotations.

Actively Learn allows teachers to upload their own material to the platform. Customizing assignments with a digital platform leads to more effective and independent instruction that targets students’ strengths and weaknesses by giving support to students who need it, while omitting it for those who don’t. You can use Actively Learn, Newsela and other reading platforms in a variety of ways to support diverse readers and build content knowledge with jigsaws, do nows and flipped learning.

The readers in our classrooms are individuals with unique needs and preferences. Technology allows teachers to offer learning experiences to support these diverse student learners. As Alabama Principal Danny Steele commented on Twitter, “It is good to know content. It is great to know pedagogy. It’s imperative to know the kids.”

Once teachers get to know their students, they can incorporate meaningful and thoughtful learning experiences for all learners.

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The Future of Education

I was recently asked by Matthew Lynch, Editor in Chief of  The Edvocate & The Tech Edvocate, “What are your thoughts on the future of education?” This is an imperative question as education is at a cross roads. Education and teachers, especially have been put under much scrutiny based on the measure of student success as defined by test scores and the Common Core Learning Standards. At the same time, the power of technology and education is blooming with tools and platforms to leverage student success for ALL students and the field of education is filled with promise and possibility.

In 100 words or less, my response was:

Personalized learning experiences for teachers and students continues in the near future for education. Helping all students succeed and reach excellence is our mission. What we define as success and excellence continues to evolve so that our students are critical thinkers, problem solvers, collaborators, and active learners. As schools are rethinking the idea of space and the learning landscape of education, the physical space of schools will take on new shapes and forms. Technology and digital literacy is embedded throughout blended learning experiences to help students and teachers work smarter.

I was among 100 educational influencers to be included in this article and I want to share with you all the amazing insight from colleagues who were part of this report. Common responses included digital technology, students as creators, teachers as facilitators, problem based learning, personalized learning, choice, creativity, and collaboration.

Check out the entire collection of responses here.

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