The element of differentiated instruction within a classroom environment is possibly one of the most challenging areas in teaching today. Personalized learning is a necessary goal and ideal, if we had thirty teachers for thirty children in the classroom. But we don’t; teachers are the minority in the school environment.
They are expected to plan, deliver and monitor thirty individualized lessons on the same topic to meet each child’s learning style and needs – simultaneously while standing on one leg! Ok, not the one leg bit – but how is this really possible? The buzzwords are great but is it just a dream or can personalized learning really become a norm in classrooms across the globe?
The technology revolution has enabled this dream to actualize, and is the tool that can allow teachers to create true individualized learning. With the right planning, teachers can use technology to closely monitor each child’s progress and give instant feedback.
Imagine Amy from a local school. She teaches fourth grade and has a class website and a blog page for every student. The students and Amy together look at the schedule for each term. The children have input into their learning at the planning stage.
All homework and class work is stored on the site so the children can access the material easily whenever they wish. Each time Amy writes on the board she can save the board work using the Explain Everything App and the children can then look at it on their iPads or at home. Amy can get the same board back up the next day to continue where they left off. Johnny in her class has visual problems and doesn’t see the board well, so everything that is written on the board is mirrored onto his iPad and he is good to go!
Each week two children prepare a video to go on the blog on a key subject they are learning. Parents often comment on how good they are, as do children from other schools who use the presentations in their classrooms. Each week Amy prepares some interactive material for the children to look at when doing their work in school. There are sections for each child with activities to work through at their own level. The children work together in class and then go to their blog page and continue with extension activities that are right for their level.
Collaborative learning takes place with groups working together on a project and then posting onto the main site. There are also monthly collaborations with a school in another continent and a Skype session with a famous author occasionally.
Children photograph work they are proud of and date it. Amy then sends a link to the parents so they can share the moment!
The children really feel ownership of their learning.
Amy has created a learning centre with activities geared to different learning styles, readiness and levels of interest. There are teachers all round the world doing some or all of the above and are excited by the level of engagement and enthusiasm that they experience on a daily basis.
In order to accommodate these learning styles, teachers like Amy are always on the lookout for different content creation tools that can allow students to work at their own level in a focused way.
4 Kidz by Kidz – a Jewish Interactive initiative– has provided a space to encourage individualized learning within the Jewish arena. Children from ages 6-15 are given a focus for their digital creations. The entries are marked and evaluated according to a carefully constructed assessment rubric based on the learning.
The calibre of our children’s creations is inspirational.
The differentiated instruction and differentiated learning taking place is clearly evident, as children choose their own unique way to share information they have learned. It is personalized learning with purpose, context, and a framework, building important skills essential for the future success of our children.