Thursday, July 16, 2015

Personalized Learning and Understanding by Design: First Grade

This week I was introduced to yet another way of teaching...Personalized Learning.  I thought that Understanding by Design was a huge but rewarding undertaking, but OhMiGosh!! 

When I first learned about personalized learning, I thought that it was just differentiating skills between learning styles and the multiple know, giving kids the choice to learn the content in whichever way they like best (Musical, Verbal, Written, etc.).  
 With Personalized Learning, we will no longer be teaching whole group and then moving into differentiated groups. No more "sit and git"!  No more "falling through the cracks".  Our students will move through each standard little by little until every aspect of that standard is mastered. 

Personalized Learning begins with the LEARNER!  

What skills do they know already?  Where do they need to go? 

I'd like to think of it as a pyramid: 
The top of the pyramid is the starting point and the bottom (or near bottom) is mastery.  Students take a pretest at the beginning of the unit and based on those results, they are placed on a certain level of the pyramid.  If Johnny did great on his pretest, then he will start toward the bottom of the pyramid.  His learning will be challenged...just like we said with Understanding by Design but now, the focus is on the learner:

"LEARN a mile deep and an inch wide"
"LEARNING an inch deep and a mile wide"  

 OhMiGosh!!  Complete epiphany!  This totally makes sense! Right??

Johnny (who did great on his pretest) will stay on the same standard as everyone else but he will be able to dig deeper by completing challenging activities, games, or a project based learning assignment.

For Suzie, who didn't do so great on her pretest, would start toward the top of the pyramid and work her way down toward mastery.  

As a teacher, I know your mind is absolutely boggled right now!  Like, how the heck am I going to get all of my students to learn if they are all at different places on the pyramid...I'm only one person!!  Well that's where the rest of personalized learning comes in.  Students are put on a "pathway" where they will work at their own pace through the standard.  Each pathway is kind of like a road map (in the pyramid) or a video game, where each level needs to be mastered before moving onto the next level.  Once all levels (or until your expectation of mastery) are completed, they complete enrichment activities until you are ready to move onto the next standard.  

As I sat through this Personalized Learning training, I didn't know how this would work in my classroom.  My colleagues and I thought that a good place to start was with the standards and the developmental process that students should go through each standard.  And then....

This is where I'm thankful for Understanding by Design!!  

We have our UbD units planned out in a developmental sequence with all of the activities .  Now, all we have to do is take the UbD sequence to make the learning pathways.  

Last year was a learning process for my grade level because the teachers at my new school had never done UbD units before.  We basically took all of my previous units (created back in 2012-13) and revised them.  At the time, we still used Investigations Math so some of those resources were added throughout the unit.  Some components of the UbD were updated: advanced assessments, and a new journal entry process;  Some components were added: Paideia Seminar, exit tickets, and a scoring sheet.  Check out our October math unit from last year (2014-15) on addition, subtraction, and word problems.  Click on this link to download the 38 page file for FREE.

The next step toward my Personalized Learning process will be to take our UbD units that were created last year, and drop those activities into a pathway.

As summer is coming to an end, I am excited to get to work on these pathways and see how it all turns out in the classroom.  I'm scared about trying something new, but change cannot happen without being scared.  
I'm sure you know where I'll be the rest of the summer!  HA!  I will be posting my Personalized Learning resources and pathways here when they're done!!  Stay tuned... 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Whoa! This is ahhmazing!! Thanks for sharing. I will be sharing this with my team when we meet in August.