Why Personalized Learning?

First, What is Personalized Learning?

Personalized Learning is an approach to education that tailors learning according to the individual needs of each student. The Personalized Learning approach to education has evolved over the past decade through the growing public charter school movement in California and incorporates many of the latest educational research results as to how children learn successfully.

Why do It?

Personalized Learning blocks were added to the master school schedule at the start of the year. Mind you--it was not meant to be one more thing but for many grades, I think that's what it became--with all the extra data work they had to put in. And mind you each grade made it its own. Oh, it has also moved several times from where it started on the master schedule to where grades wanted it--schedule changes as a resource teacher are always tons of fun. Not to mention the IEP guidelines changes mid-year to where the time may not count towards IEP times if it's not out of the classroom--which is not the point of personalized learning time. We all use the time to count towards IEP services.

The Personalized Learning system is a unique, blended classroom and non-classroom-based public educational model that is tailored to the needs and interests of each individual student. It's an approach that honors and recognizes the unique gifts, skills, passions, and attributes of each child.

We use the time to provide targeted intervention for ALL students not just the low ones.

The key attributes: 

  • data-driven,
  • flexibility groupings,
  • small groups,
  • more one-on-one teacher and student interaction, 
  • attention to differences in learning styles, 
  • student-driven participation in developing the learning process,
  • technology access, and
  • varied learning environments, 

The easiest way to start--formative assessments. Formative assessment may look different in different classrooms, but the purpose remains the same. Formative assessment help create groups of students--those who have got it, those who need more practice, and those who just don't get it. It's an easy way to ensure students get what they need to be successful. Formative assessment should:

  • Inform knowledge
  • Inform and redirect practice
  • Provide immediate feedback for teachers and students
  • Occur frequently
  • Provide useful data
  • Be ongoing and embedded
  • Include formal and informal assessments of knowledge

Quick Ways to Check Student Understanding

  • Thumbs up/Thumbs Down (or 1, 2, 3): Wondering if your class is ready to move on? Just ask. It doesn’t have to be complicated, show a thumbs up for understanding and a thumbs down for more help.
  • Colored Cups: A variety of tools can be used here, but Solo cups post-it notes work great. Each student should have a red, yellow, and green cup. Throughout the lesson, students can use the cups to let you know where they are in their understanding. Green, ready to move on or needs a challenge, yellow indicates a level of confusion, and red tells you the student is struggling.
  • Mid Lesson “exit slips” with Mini Whiteboards: Traditional exit slips wait until the end of the class to ask a couple questions that will tell teachers what material sunk in and what needed to be reviewed. Why wait until the end of the class? Pick a question that will be easy for you to review quickly and assess understanding on the spot. Determine and prepare these questions ahead of time.
  • Auto-graded Assessments: Use a tool like OpenEd to assign students independent assessments. The platform will auto-grade and provide results as well as recommendations support.   

Personalized Learning is about how learners use voice and choice to develop learners. The learning environment changes. The culture and climate in the classroom changes. Yet these changes do not happen right away. It addresses the needs of ALL students. Personalized Learners is creating a culture of learning and making sure students get what they need to be successful. Why not give it a try and see what you think? 

Until Next Time,  


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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