How can teachers personalize learning for reading, writing, math and science?
In order to provide real personalized and individualized learning for our children, we will have to radically change our concept of lockstepping all students of the same chronological age in one room. Our present system has become unmanageable in many instances because we have the unrealistic expectation that one teacher can instruct a diverse group of 25 to 30 students in the same material at the same time. The cognitive abilities of the students may range from several years below to several years above their chronological age norms. Some students in the classroom may also have significant behavioral, emotional, or physical needs. Although it would be a difficult and complex process of change, I believe we need to move to a mastery based education system where students would be grouped together according to their educational progress and needs, not their age. Core academic subjects are best taught and best learned at a level and rate appropriate to the individual student’s understanding. We have a significant amount of time in the curriculum devoted to PE, fine arts, and social activities which would foster social learning and peer interaction in a healthy way. Students whose literacy and numeracy skills are similar should be taught together so that all can achieve success and eventually mastery, whether they happen to be 6, 8, 10, or 12. Likewise, those who are gifted and eager to learn should have the opportunity to explore more advanced material. We cannot afford to personalize public school education by providing a one-to-one student teacher ratio with each student working on their own individualized program. We can apply some common sense, though, and group students according to ability for instruction. Thus the teaching of math, science and reading would be personalized by assigning learners to appropriate classes.
The major problem with this whole set of dialogs is the bias built into the questions. I think we need to answer a more fundamental question before trying to find the best way to do personalized learning. Is personalized learning a better approach than standardized measured learning? I believe the answer to most of our ails is to abandon the dilutionary all things to all people approach and to attempt to do a few things brilliantly well using aggressive standardized programs. Personalised learning already takes place in standardized courses by each learner!
How would you frame the questions? What types of questions do you feel we should be asking?
Whether the philosophy of personalized learning is desirable would have been a better starting point. Skipping this very important question and going straight for the implimentation plan is a technique to force concensus. I am not all that happy with the schools morphing into holding pens for handicapped, academic, vocational and directionless students. I would prefer segregated academic, vocational and special needs schools that each acheive excellence in a well defined manner.
Q1 from Bruce from Sicamous:
Should schools integrate handicapped, non-academic vocational, non-academic recreational and academic students in the same classrooms?
Q2 from Bruce from Sicamous:
Is the concept of personalized learning programs a good idea?
Q3 from Bruce from Sicamous:
Should standardized testing be reinstated at all grade levels to give the teachers something to work towards and parents/students/universities a more reliable measure of acheivement?
Thanks for your ideas, Bruce. We’re beginning work on a new site design that will hopefully give you the opportunity to pose your own questions. Stay tuned for that and keep your questions handy.
Teachers are the backbone of our education system. Because all children learn at a different pace, it is important to develop a progressive carriculum that goes from simple to complex and use the lesson plan that works best for a particular child. That way each child would learn at their own pace without feeling pressured by their peers and parents. The teacher should evaluate and review a child’s progress within the parameters of their learning capability and document and report their progress (or lack of) to the parents explaining the methods they used to evaluate the student.