11 Tips to Personalize Learning

1. Find out how each student learns best.

Each student is unique. Find out each students best learning styles using multiple assessments. Have students create a personal learner profile that identifies how they best learn, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

2. Allow students to choose their topic.

Give students a chance to make decisions about how they learn best. Have students pursue their own interests and something they are passionate about. Make sure they address their strengths and their learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way.

3. Encourage teachers and students to co-design the curriculum.

Review the standards with the students so they understand what they need to know and do. Ask students to brainstorm ideas and topics around the standards and examples of projects, problems, and challenges.

4. Ask lots of questions.

Take one topic and brainstorm open-ended questions that have no one right answer but multiple answers and more questions. Provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities. Have them brainstorm questions and then prioritize the questions.

5. Teach less, learn more.

Review the lesson so you are not lecturing or the main expert of the content. Make it so everyone in the class is an expert on something or a great researcher so they can find the information they need. Change the seating arrangements so students are in groups or encourage students to redesign the learning environment. Have students find their strengths and be available to help others. When someone has a question about something, have them ask 3 people that have identified they know the topic before you. Integrate the appropriate technology that encourages publishing, creating, and collaborating with other students.

6. Share how you learn.

Talk about your own learning. You are creating a learning community where you are modeling collaboration, curiosity, and reflection. Be an active participant in the learning community. Opening up about you and what you know about a specific topic encourages discourse among your students.

7. Connect, extend, challenge.

Ask your students to write down and reflect on what they learned, if there was a particular learning experience they enjoyed, what helped and hindered their learning, and what might they do different next time. This can be in the form of a blog or personal online journal.

8. Re-evaluate assessment.

Instead of focusing on standardized tests only to measure progress, create meaningful assessment tasks that allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish evidence of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience such as a blog or ePortfolio. Place as much value on process and progress as on the final product.

9. Define goals and encourage reflection.

Each student can define their learning goals and develop their personal learning plan. They can refer to their progress towards their goals with ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide opportunities for constructive, specific feedback from you, the student, their peers, and their parents. Student blogs are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers.

10. Focus on learning, not work.

Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Avoid giving worksheets and busy work. Start with the Why they are learning something. Ask questions. Encourage questions. Develop with your students learning experiences that support personalized learning and collaborative group activities.

11. Coordinate student led conferences.

Invite students to lead the conference about them sharing their strengths and weaknesses with their teacher and parents. They also share how learning has progressed, areas for improvement, and the process and product of learning. Evidence of learning and the process can be published to an ePortfolio, a VoiceThread, Glogster, or blog.

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