Skip to main content

How to Personalize Learning Part 3: Knowing How a Classroom Learns


Now, it may seem contradictory to state that teachers should create a classroom learner toolkit.  All individuals in our class have their own profile. We can’t simply design on blanket profile for the class.  That is very true.  That’s why Bray and McClaskey take a different approach to what a classroom learning toolkit looks like.  It is a 3-step process
  1. Class Learning Snapshot
  2. Preferences and Needs
  3. Class Learning Toolkit


Class Learning Snapshot

In this model of designing tools for a whole classroom, the authors first recommend the teacher identify 4 learners who are diverse.  The Class Learning Snapshot records the specific strengths, talents, interests, and challenges of those four learners. If a teacher could meet the needs of these diverse learners through UDL, the needs of the other students in the class would probably be met.


Student
Strengths, Talents, and Interests
Challenges
1
  • It's easier for me to understand content when I am taught by a teacher and then am able to get information that’s written down. A pre-read also helps.
  • It's easiest for me to work when I am able to collaborate with others.
  • It's easiest for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I take a written test or do group projects.
  • I like to draw and play softball


  • It's difficult for me to understand content when I am given a video and told to teach myself.
  • It's difficult for me to work when there are a lot of distractions.
  • It's difficult for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I have to give a presentation.
  • 2
    • It's easier for me to understand content when I receive paper handouts and notes. I like listening to lectures in class and adding my own notes from what the teacher says.
    • It's easiest for me to work when there is a deadline because I procrastinate and it motivates me to finish the assignment.
    • It's easiest for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I create and give a presentation or when I take a test because both of those methods force me to learn the information.
    • Soccer, tennis, running, skiing, traveling, service to others, and history/politics


  • It's difficult for me to understand content when I review a lecture on my own at home and take my own notes, without the teacher going over and reiterating the topics
  • It's difficult for me to work when there are distractions (ie when I am not with my close friends)
  • It's difficult for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I create a video or write-up because while I can successfully create these, I do not fully take in all the information.
  • 3
    • It's easier for me to understand content when it is explained in pictures
    • It's easiest for me to work when I have access to a computer
    • It's easiest for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I can write about it
    • Working with computers


  • It's difficult for me to understand content when it is not visually presented or written
  • It's difficult for me to work when in a large group
  • It's difficult for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I have to make videos
  • 4
    • It's easier for me to understand content when I take or copy notes
    • It's easier for me to understand content when I take or copy notes
    • It's easiest for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I make a presentation
    • gymnastics, golf, track


  • It's difficult for me to understand content when I watch a video
  • It's difficult for me to work when I procrastinate
  • It's difficult for me to demonstrate why I've learned when I have to write a paper

  • Preferences and Needs

    The next step requires the teacher to look at the preferences and needs for each of these diverse learners. It is important that the teacher records these for all areas of learning access, engagement, and expression. Again, it’s important to consider why learners want to engage with the content you are presenting. Diverse learners have different points of entry to the content.  These should be factored into the document.


    Student
    Strengths, Talents, and Interests
    Challenges




    Access: notes/ outlines are helpful, reading from the textbook is not helpful
    I just learn better when I am taught by a teacher
    Engage: working with others is helpful, no class time to work is not helpful
    Express: presenting is helpful for demonstrating, writing is hard for me to demonstrate




    Access: Paper handouts and notes (can focus on listening during the lecture and I am more motivated to complete it). Watching and listening to the teacher present (how I like to learn the information).
    Engage: Assignments with definite deadlines that are enforced (motivates me to complete the work and stay on track). Variance in group and individual work (when there are bigger projects spreading the workload is beneficial, however sometimes when I am in groups I do not trust my partners and want to complete the work myself).
    Express: Creating a presentation and giving it to the class (forces me to review the information and learn it well enough to tell others about it). Taking tests (forces me to study and learn the information).



    Access: I would like there to be at least some visual representation of concepts discussed in class as well as ways to get information outside of class
    Engage: I would like there to be far more paper worksheets and packets than digital ones, or at least the option to do them on paper instead of online
    Express: I would like there to be more writing and testing than video creation or presentations



    Access: Outline of notes and reading the book helps
    Watching videos does not help
    Engage: Working in groups is helpful
    No class time to work is not helpful
    Express: Presenting and taking tests are helpful
    Writing a paper is not helpful

    Class Learning Toolkit

    The Class Learning Toolkit is a catalog of the tools and strategies learners will use to access content, engage with content, and express mastery.  Tools could be technology such as apps or organizational frameworks. To start building the toolkit, look at the preferences and needs of those learners in the snapshot. Find tools to fit the needs.  Don’t simply add tools because it is sophisticated.  Tools are designed to fit a need. Don’t complicate students lives by introducing tools they have no need for.


    To create the Class Learning Toolkit, the teacher first needs to first divide all resources into the category of access, engage, or express. For each tool, the teacher records how the tool could be used by the teacher as a part of an instruction.  This section is called “Instructional Method”. This section is used to provide examples of how a teacher would use the tool to instruct students.  The second categorization for each tool is “Learning Strategies and Skills”.  In this section, the skills the tool will enhance fot the learner are stated. Below is a sample with three tools that are essential to my learners.


    Tools/Apps
    Instructional Methods
    Learning Strategies and Skills
    Access
    YouTube
    Teacher can find video clips that relate to specific content in order to provide another perspective on a topic.
    Learners can learn to analyze media which contains visual and audio information.
    Engage
    Pear Deck
    Teacher can use this as a tool to build practice questions into large groups instruction.
    Learners can use this tools to engage in guided practice with instructor.
    Express
    Explain Everything
    Teacher can create audio/video lessons for students to view.
    Learners can create multimedia documents with spoken words and images they generate to demonstrate deep understanding of a concept.
    The final Class Learning Toolkit is organized  around each of the four diverse learners, the tools, instructional methods, and learning strategies and skills they employ to meet the learner’s needs.


    Student
    Tools, apps, resources
    Instructional Methods
    Learning Strategies and Skills
    1
    Prezi
    Create dynamic presentations for large group instruction.
    Organize information for presentation of content to demonstrate mastery
    2
    Pear Deck
    Teacher can use this as a tool to build practice questions into large groups instruction.
    Learners can use this tools to engage in guided practice with instructor.
    3
    Phet Simulations
    Allows for visual representations through simulations.
    Collect and analyze data in experiments.
    4
    GSuite
    Provide easy access to documents online.
    Collaborate on document creation with peers.

    As teachers learn more about each learner in their class, they will be able to help guide learners to appropriate tools and strategies.  As the teacher identifies new learner needs, tools can be added to the list.  Again, this toolkit is just the start.  Tools that are useful should be added.  But as with every tool, the user needs to know its intended function and when it will be most useful.

    Popular posts from this blog

    Waves of Innovation in Elmbrook Part 1

    As a part of a graduate project, I am looking at innovations in education within my school district, Elmbrook Schools. I am specifically focusing on those looking to provide learners with more ownership over their own learning (a.k.a. personalizing learning). I've completed 4 interviews so far.  I had no intention of sharing them via this blog.  But, I think the stories and insights of these educators really are important for all.  They were vulnerable in a way that shows their passion for what they are undertaking.  They want the best for all learners not simply students, but educators who may hear their words.  So, please take the time to listen to their stories.  


    In this video, Jeff Ortman a teacher in his 22nd year, discusses implementing strategies to give students ownership of their learning in his high school English classroom.  He discusses why he wanted to change his learning environment, his first steps to bring change, how choice and feedback are key to his classroom, a…

    Can I Believe These Numbers?

    Our union put out the results of a recent district survey.  The number of those who responded to the survey was low in comparison to the total number of certified staff. But the number and comments related to personalized learning struck me as troubling.


    Based on this data, over half of the district staff polled are not onboard with the district's vision for personalized learning.  I would argue that not knowing the district vision for personalized learning is synonymous with not understanding what personalized learning is. The mission of the Elmbrook School Districtto inspire every student to think, to learn and to succeed.  By personalizing learning, we hope to achieve that mission.
    I begin to question have we put the phrase before the meaning?  Have we thrown out this word without intention?  Have we made it to much of another thing to do rather than a method to achieve our shared vision.
    These numbers shake me to the core.  After the recent presidential election, I realized I was…