Thursday, June 14, 2012

Personalized Learning: Opportunity for Innovation

Personalized Learning in the Common Core

By Amy Esselman

The Common Core Standards open up new opportunities for personalized learning.
For years classroom learning has focused on how teachers can best convey concepts and topics to their students. When we get down to the application, a “focus on concepts and topics” really just means that we prepare students for tests. This method works—sometimes—especially if students are “on par,” according to the latest standards or legislation.

What happens, however, if a student doesn’t understand, needs extra help, or falls behind?

With the implementation of the Common Core growing around the country, the idea of personalized learning has started to resonate with teachers. Personalized learning allows us as teachers to get creative with how we run our classrooms, and it helps us better attend to the unique needs, interests, and skill-sets of our students.

The Common Core Standards’ primary purpose—finally—is the same as your own: college and career readiness. They were created in an effort to help teachers ensure that all students are prepared for their future, whether it be for college or a career. The standards are unique in that they don’t tell schools how or what to teach, but rather set the stage for what skills students should walk away with after each grade.

That brings us to the link between the Standards and personalized learning. Personalized learning shifts the focus away from teacher- centered classrooms and instead move towards student- centered learning, allowing students to take an active role and choice in their education. The Common Core has built in autonomy for what to teach and how teachers can decide to implement the standards. Teachers now have the opportunity to let students participate in creating their own learning objectives and ways to understand a subject. There are no boundaries or roadblocks to how students can build and form the expected skills—that’s where the innovation within personalized learning comes into play.

By using personalized learning in their classrooms and incorporating it into their techniques, teachers can decide how they want to engage the students and how to best meet each of their students’ needs. Are their interests different, are the students motivated by different things? What skill level is each student on and how can I help them meet their learning goals? Find ways to incorporate the skills and interests of your students. By giving your students personalized attention, you allow them to take a more active role in how they want to learn. What works for one student, may not work for another. Now is the time to evaluate these differences.

With the implementation of the Common Core on the horizon, a window of opportunity for personalized learning and educational innovation has been created. How will you bring take advantage of the opening and shift from teaching to the test, to having the students define their own learning objectives? The options are endless.

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