T he world of education is like the world of computers: always looking for the best ways to fit and suit individual needs. Both worlds have a client in common: human beings with individual characteristics. And this is what underlies the foundations of Personalized Learning which considers that
“a learning experience is designed for each student with their specific needs in mind”
(TeachThought Staff. Visited 10/28/2019).
Another key concept is students’ goal achievement. The idea is to let students set their own goals in order to develop a sense of belonging and to boost their motivation. A good example of what can be achieved with this approach is the district of Middletown in New York or Verna, Wisconsin. These districts dedicated themselves to helping students to set their own goals and work towards them, and as a result, after four years of hard work, they could evidence an average growth of more than 40% in reading and math.
Every institution that would like to adopt this system must be ready for a drastic change. These changes include training teachers to be able to move from the traditional teacher-centered approach to a blended learning in which modern technologies are embraced in order to respect learning styles, as well as investing in online learning games and web pages dedicated to teaching basic concepts no matter where the student is.
The following are just few examples of how to apply personalized learning inside the classrooms:
- Reading a book: In this type of activities teachers have to struggle a lot with students that do not enjoy reading. It is good to mention that, in most cases, this is either because the student is behind in his/her reading skills compared to the class, or he/she is a more kinesthetic type of student, therefore helping them with a different approach allows the reading process to be much more productive. So here is an example:
Assign the same reading activities to both groups, but one difference could be that while some are reading the book, others are listening and watching the pictures that go together with the book.
Another version is: the ones that love to read, allow them to read to the end, for the ones that do not enjoy it, ask them to read only four to five pages, and then ask them to write and also to give an oral report of how they think the book will finish.
What about this one: create pairs making sure that one student loves to read and the other one does not. Let the one who loves reading, read for the friend, and the other one has to paraphrase what his/her friend has said. This paraphrasing should be recorded or written in the notebook of the one that is not reading.
To finish, I would like to remind teachers that when we “customized learning experiences to fill gaps in students’ foundational knowledge”, we are helping them to accelerate their learning process as well as ensuring that our students do have the skills needed for life challenges.