Archive for April 2012
UDL and Transforming Schools: Stephen Petrucci (Thought Leader Interview)Kathleen McClaskey interviewed Stephen Petrucci because he was the first British Columbia administrator discussing UDL (Universal Design for Learning) in relation to a personalized learning environment. Stephen is Director of Instruction in School District 60 - Fort St. John, BC. 1. What is your vision of personalizing learning? Personalizing learning is education through the eyes and brain of the individual learner. This entails building a relationship with the learner and creating a profile that reveals personal interests, strengths and prior learning, as well as academic needs. It involves determining and getting a learner’s input on how they learn best, using a framework such as UDL to collaboratively design instruction and finally, employing the vehicles of technology and the arts to drive that personal learning forward. ** My vision of personalizing learning has been developing over the past couple of years through our own professional development and through initiatives from the BC Ministry of Education. Just over a year ago, we took a close look at the report from the Premier’s Technology Council that outlined a vision for 21C education. In addition the ministry put out a call for input from the public through it’s collaborative BC Ed Plan. The ensuing discussions we had at a district level were around the shift from the 3 Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) to the 7 Cs:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving.
- Creativity and innovation.
- Collaboration, teamwork and leadership.
- Cross-cultural understanding.
- Communications, computing and ICT (information, communications and technology) literacy.
- Career and learning self-reliance.
- Caring for personal health and planet earth.
- Provided coaching and collaboration time to redesign classroom instruction around Project-Based Learning. This process allows for learning based on student interest and input. It is based on the philosopy of High Tech High in San Diego, as envisioned by Larry Rosenstock.
- About 3 years ago, the district initiated an Appreciative Inquiry process called “world café”, where the community, students and staff gave input and developed a vision for a positive learning experience. This culminated in a new school built in a hockey rink! Please see the Youtube video on this here: Energetic Learning Campus Overview
- Through professional development of Assessment for Learning on a district-wide level, teachers have collaborated and executed a different approach to assessment. Rather than relying heavily on summative assessments, we have introduced assessment as learning and assessment for learning as a more common and student-centered practice. This is particularly evident in one of the criteria of AFL, which is feedback both from the students and the teacher. Students use peer-feedback as well as give their own reflections on their learning and performance
- Through the use of BC Performance Standards, we are able to use descriptive rubrics that allow educators and students to establish a more personalized learning journey. This includes input from the students as far as self-assessing their progress based on the criteria provided.
- Specific interventions such as the Reading Recover program for grade 1 students who are struggling with reading. This is a very comprehensive 1:1 program that works on increasing reading and writing levels based on the individual needs/results of a student.
- I’m afraid I can’t say that this is done in any systemic kind of way. At the Elementary level, there would certainly be more feedback from the students than at the secondary level. This usually entails activities that are related to Gardner’s multiple intelligences.
- Where it is done in a more formal way is for special needs students through their IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Ideally, the classroom teacher along with the learning assistant teacher, specialist teacher and administrator, collaborate on a plan that reflects the learning styles and needs of the student. Of course, the UDL model teaches us that we should be going through this collaborative process for the entire class… Unfortunately, this process has had mixed results, particularly when the classroom teacher does not take ownership for the IEP..
- We’re not there yet…
See also the responses from question #2, particularly the Energetic Learning Campus video.
- We are at the beginning stages of telling the story of UDL. Nevertheless, whether they are aware of it or not, many of the practices our teachers employ fit in the UDL framework. This is clearly the case with our school and regional science fair. It is also the case in our environments and classes immersed in the arts such as at our fine arts elementary school – Ecole Central Elementary. At this school, students are given options for fine arts modules, based upon their interests.
- As we broaden our understanding and use of assessment in the classroom, we are seeing teachers adjust to the learning needs of their students in a much more timely and effective manner. All our schools/teachers have had in-service on the Assessment For Learning program
- We have a 1:1 wireless writing program whereby every grade 6 and 7 student in our district is given a macbook for the year. They use it at school and can bring it home. What’s important about this initiative is that the focus is on improving student writing, not on the technology of the laptop. We have seen our writing results improve over the last few years – particularly with our boys. Each of the computers is imaged in the same way and include the writing performance standards rubrics for their grade levels. Students constantly refer to this rubric when writing and most importantly, articulate where they using the assessment language. The other benefit of this program is of course the spinoff uses for the laptop and the personalization that the students accomplish with it.
- Several teachers/students are using technology tools such as Prezi, YouTube, Livebinder, Moodle, etc. to make a more personalized learning environment. These tools fit well in the UDL framework.
- Grew up in central British Columbia, Canada
- Bachelor of Arts in French Literature from University of Victoria, BC. Language Diploma from Université de Caen, France. Teacher’s training from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC. Masters in Ed. Leadership from University of Calgary, Alberta.
- Started off as French Immersion and Leadership teacher at the secondary level in 1995.
- Taught Grade 7 French Immersion
- Vice-principal at the Fine Arts dual-track school (English/French Immersion)
- Principal of Fine Arts school
- Principal of K-10 rural school
- Presently Director of Instruction in School District 60 - Fort St. John, BC. Since August, 2011. Responsible for Professional Development, Fine Arts, French Immersion, District Band, Assessment and Evaluation. And lots of other stuff…
Schools Moving from Time to CompetencyThe book Off the Clock: Moving Education From Time to Competency by Fred Bramante and Rose Colby provides a comprehensive approach to implementing a large-scale competency-based reform initiative that bases student achievement on mastery rather than “seat time.” This is about the journey that New Hampshire started in 2005 when their state Board of Education revised school approval laws. Learn about a system that is grounded in the passion of the student and experience learning opportunities. This book is about the ideology of moving from the Carnegie unit "seat time" to having students demonstrate mastery. Competency implies that students have the ability to transfer content and skills across content areas. This is just what we need to personalize learning. After we read the book, talk to the authors, we are going to add stories, data, webinars, and encourage discussions that lead to more discussions about competency-based learning. This book is highly recommended before you have any discussions on personalizing learning. The Authors: Fred, a former middle school Science teacher, a former candidate for governor, a life long entrepreneur, and a past Chairman and long standing member of the New Hampshire State Board of Education, led a full-scale effort to redesign public education, especially at the high school level, which resulted in a major revamping of New Hampshire’s education regulations and the subsequent development of the New Hampshire vision For High School Redesign. Fred has been the public voice of this movement and has carried the competency-based message around the country. Rose Colby is currently a Competency-Based Learning and Assessment Specialist assisting high schools throughout the state of New Hampshire in designing high quality competency, assessment, and grading reform systems. Ms. Colby is a motivational speaker and presenter in the areas of competency based learning, digital learners, differentiation, and school leadership. Since 2007, Ms. Colby has been a partner in the Nellie Mae Education Foundation funded project centered on student success though Extended Learning Opportunities in partnership with Q.E.D. Foundation, Plustime, NH, and the NH Department of Education. She is currently part of the planning team for the N.H. Next Generation Learning Project. Check out their website www.offtheclockeducation.com for more information.
Kevin McLaughlin shares PJs: Personal Journeys
"It’s never been a better time to be a teacher/learner."Kevin McLaughlin is an ICT Coordinator / Primary Teacher at Old Mill Primary School, Broughton Astley, Leics, UK who transformed his classroom to a personalized learning environment. He is a Google Certified Teacher, an Apple Distinguished Educator, and Google Apps Certified Trainer. His students create PJs or what he calls their Personal Journeys. Kathleen McClaskey and I had to interview Kevin so he can share with our readers the why and how he changed his teaching and how his students learn now.
"My name is Kevin McLaughlin and I am a teacher. I also use technology, a lot, although it isn’t always about the technology. I am passionate in my role as an educator, and I use my website to offer advice to others as well as detail my use of a wide variety of teaching and learning approaches."Why personalize learning? If you are going to consider personalised learning as an approach in your classroom then you should first understand that every learner is unique. Learners may appear to be similar and at times we can teach learners in the same fashion but to use this whole class approach for every lesson you teach then you run the risk of leaving learners behind. Learning requires more than a teaching plan that focuses on teaching. As educators we need to focus on the learning that is going to occur and the learning that is to come. We can do this by using a personalised learning approach. What is your vision of personalizing learning? I have envisaged personalised learning in my classroom as one that involves every learner in the development of their learning journey, that includes their own learning themes as well as those that the curriculum requires of them and allows them the opportunity to explore this learning in any way they see fit to achieve it. Describe the first steps that you took to create a personalized learning environment in your classroom? I began developing my approach when I realised that the three step teaching approach - introduction, main activity and plenary was hindering many of the learners in my class. Those that understood the learning focus would grow bored very quickly waiting for the opportunity to show off their learning. Those that required additional teaching had to sit through introductions and main activity demonstrations before getting the opportunity to be guided in their learning. A personalized approach gave me the time to focus on the needs of every learner from the onset. How did you decide on the new design of your classroom? I came up with the design after trial and error. I knew the traditional classroom layout would deter a personalized learning approach so it had to be changed. This requires a good understanding of your learners, how they interact with each other and the development of trust and respect from the start of the academic year as a personalized learning approach will be daunting for any teacher at first. You need to be prepared to allow the learners to move around, to interact with their peers, to sit anywhere with anyone, to use the floor space as well as a table and not to use groupings of any sort unless there is a specific reason for it. The room is now our Learning Zone and there are no pre-seating arrangements. My class are free to move around, sit with whomever they wish at any time and, if they so wish, pop outdoors for some fresh air and a quick ‘chill out’ session if needed. The Learning Zone is divided into 5 areas:
- Discussion and Thinking Zone – Learners can drop in whenever they wish to talk about their learning, find solutions, help each other and just to think and chill out. It’s also still the area where my class gathers for a whole group focus or an additional Creation/Show Off zone.
- Discovery Zone – There are 2 of these although one is missed off the top of the image. These contain laptops, pc’s and other technology that the learners can use to guide them on their learning, discover answers, investigate and solve problems, collaborate on projects and create presentations.
- Show Off Zone – This is where the learners focus on discoveries they have made and demonstrate their understanding through writing, presentation, art work, display whatever medium they wish to present their work.
- Repeat Level – This has evolved from my use of Gamification of learning and an approach that my class enjoy. Whenever any learner requires help, advice, explanations and is ‘stuck’ this is the area they come to repeat the learning so they can move to the next level.
- Creation Zone – Creating content for use in their learning, creating presentations to demonstrate learning, blogging, refining, editing. It happens here and it’s usually very busy.
- Every child preferred this approach to their learning
- Every child was on task every day without having to be told
- Every learner made progress in Numeracy and achieved at least two targets that I had set them
- Every learner achieved at least 1 of their own targets
- Every learner told me they were looking forward to the next week of learning in their Personalised Journeys
Dave Truss on the Inquiry Hub (Thought Leader Interview)Dave Truss is an educator (Vice Principal) with the Learning Innovations Network, Coquitlam Open Learning (COL), School District #43 in BC, Canada. Dave shared his thoughts and writes about Inquiry in a way that makes it easy to understand. Kathleen McClaskey and I asked Dave some questions about the Inquiry Hub and personalized learning. He shares how his school will fit well with the BCedplan and the future of education in their Province. It fits well with Coquitlam’s School District’s collaborative work on “Learning Without Boundaries”. Q. What is The Inquiry Hub? Can you tell us how and why it was developed? The Inquiry Hub was inspired by conversations around our district vision of “Learning Without Boundaries”. Coquitlam District Principal Stephen Whiffin envisioned the Inquiry Hub as a natural extension of our program. Stephen is Principal, and I am Vice Principal, of Coquitlam Open Learning, which offers online and blended courses for high school students, as well as to adults looking to graduate or upgrade courses. As part of the student population of Coquitlam Open Learning, Stephen noticed that we were getting more and more school-aged students that were moving away from their day schools and choosing to take full online course loads. However, this wasn’t necessarily an ideal situation, but rather a choice not to attend a local high school.. The Inquiry Hub was born out of the idea that there are students who don’t necessarily ‘fit’ in a traditional high school, but would benefit from having a school to go to daily, rather than just choosing to take courses online. The Inquiry Hub will offer Grade 8-12 students whom chose to come to this school:
- Instruction which blends classroom and online experiences in a hybrid model
- A student-driven inquiry approach to learning
- Significant reduction of formally structured class time and emphasis on a learning commons where students do daily group project work and individual, computer-based learning
- Class environments which group students around interests and project focus rather than grade levels
- Extensive use of peer mentorship in cross-grade project work
- Core, inquiry-based program offerings which are extended through the extensive list of COL online courses
“The power of an inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning is its potential to increase intellectual engagement and foster deep understanding through the development of a hands-on, minds-on and ‘research-based disposition’ towards teaching and learning. Inquiry honours the complex, interconnected nature of knowledge construction, striving to provide opportunities for both teachers and students to collaboratively build, test and reflect on their learning.” Neil Stephenson http://
- Community and global issues
- Environmental sustainability
- Media Art, design and technology
Personal Learner Profiles and Common CoreKathleen McClaskey and I realize that moving to a personalized learning environment where learners drive their learning takes time over several phases. The first phase is starting with the teacher so they understand Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how to teach and support all learners in their class. Kathleen co-authored this post with me. Let’s look at three 3rd grade students with three different learner profiles and how they can meet one English/Language Arts Common Core Standard:
Third Grade Literature > Key Ideas and Details ELA-RL.3.1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.Each Learner is Unique CAST www.cast.org/ (Center for Applied Special Technology) states that common sense tells us that each learner is unique. Neuroscience takes into account how individuals bring a huge variety of skills, needs, and interests to learning. [www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl] Three primary brain networks come into play:
- The “what” of learning: how we gather facts and categorize what we see, hear, and read. Identifying letters, words, or an author’s style are recognition tasks.
- The “how” of learning: planning and performing tasks. How we organize and express our ideas. Writing an essay or solving a math problem are strategic tasks.
- The “why” of learning: How learners get engaged and stay motivated. How they are challenged, excited, or interested.
- access content information and what format that would include;
- express what they know and how they could express it; and
- engage with content.
John has a difficult time focusing on the text, is not able to write or speak descriptively, and is frustrated when writing his ideas down on paper. He is very comfortable with computers. He is good in math, is able to visualize numbers and patterns, but cannot sequence what is happening in a story. He does not know how to formulate a good question.
Mary is a good storyteller who understands the moral and message of her own stories. She loves to write stories but has long term memory problems which affects how she recounts stories, characters, and plots of a story that she reads. She has trouble in math with visualizing numbers and patterns. Mary likes to talk, raises her hand even though she may not know the answer, and asks lots of questions yet many do not pertain to the story.
Suzie is an avid reader and loves to write. She can write descriptively, likes to draw but is anxious when she speaks in front of others. She forgets the sequence, moral and message of the story when she is put on the spot. She has trouble in math with patterns and sequencing. Susie wants to ask questions but is uncomfortable voicing her concerns. She works better individually or in a small group and enjoys writing in her journal.In a traditional classroom, third graders read or listen to the same literature and usually are asked to respond the same way to the text as everyone else in the class according to ELA-RL.3.1 standard. In a personalized learning environment, each third grader knows how they learn best and the best way that works for them to demonstrate what they know. To meet the standard ELA-RL.3.1, the teacher presents a story and offers multiple ways to read, listen, and respond to the story. To personalize the classroom, it can be set up with multiple stations so learners have choices how to learn and demonstrate understanding of a concept:
- Station 1: laptop computers
- Station 2: 2-3 tables grouped for collaborative work
- Station 3: teacher area with places for students to sit (rug or bean bag chairs)
- Station 4: individual area for privacy or journalling with mobile devices
- Station 5: standing or pacing area (desks could be high without chairs)
This beautiful picture book tells of the life of the author's great aunt Alice, now called The Lupine Lady. When she was little, Alice told her grandfather that she wanted to do as he did: go to far away places and live in a house by the sea. He told her that she must also do something to make the world more beautiful.
She accomplishes all she set out to do: traveling to tropical islands, climbing mountains before she hurts her back falling from a camel and decides to live by the sea. Her need to make the world more beautiful is a source of consternation to her.
Her solution of spreading lupine seeds wherever she walks is at first inadvertent - birds and the wind disperse lupine seeds from some she had planted in her garden before her bad back forced her into a semi-invalided life. When she sees new plants growing on nearby hillsides and cliffs, she spreads the seed herself after she feels better.After reading the story, the teacher asks students to brainstorm questions that she writes on her interactive whiteboard using a mindmap like Inspiration. She asks students to pair with another student to come up with even more questions and then prioritize the questions so they eventually choose a question to write a response. The moral behind Miss Rumphius is about values and making the world more beautiful. Each student may perceive values different based on their family and background. On her website Teaching Children Philosophy, Jenna Caputo provides guidelines for philosophical discussions and examples of questions about Miss Rumphius. The teacher can use some of these questions as examples: Topic: Making the World More Beautiful Miss Rumphius’ grandfather tells her that she must make the world more beautiful.
- What does Miss Rumphius’ grandfather do to make the world more beautiful?
- What does Miss Rumphius do to make the world more beautiful?
- Is there a right or wrong way to make the world more beautiful?
- Does making something more beautiful make it better?
- Can you make a person more beautiful? Does that make a better person?
John reviewed his learner profile with his teacher where they determined that he needed help focusing and how to come up with questions or responses. The teacher paired him with another student, David, who really knows how to focus on a topic. David is not as comfortable with computers as John. They both signed up for the laptop station where John typed on Google Docs while David focused prioritizing the different questions until they came up with one question: “what would we do to make the world more beautiful?” Then each of them shared what would they do. John wasn’t sure but David nudged him to think about his concerns about pollution, climate change, and too much stuff. John thought about this and his response led to planning a recycling center at school.
Mary and her teacher went over her learner profile. They both decided for her to go to the teacher station. Her teacher could help her focus on the characters and setting of the story. The teacher set up a digital storyboard that included a set of visuals about the story. She then guided Mary to sequence the story visually so she was able to understand the story and generate good questions. Mary used a mobile device with the app, AudioNote to write and/or record her questions. She then shared the questions with two other students who helped her prioritize them. With their help, she came up with the question “how can I make our school more beautiful?” and her response was to design a butterfly garden outside of their classroom.
Suzie’s personal learner profile made it clear that she best works alone. The teacher showed her Notability that has the ability to draw, write, bring in pictures and create audio notes. She discovered that drawing first helped her write her questions in more detail. The teacher came by as Suzie was writing her questions and showed her how she could record her questions using Notability as a way to share her voice. Suzie felt uncomfortable speaking into the device so the teacher asked another student, Jane, to work with Suzie. They worked in a private area in the classroom with the mobile device and practiced going over the questions. Jane’s strength was listening and repeating back what she heard. This was just what Suzie needed to hear: her questions and help with prioritizing them. She decided on the question “Does making something more beautiful make it better?” and to write a response to the question in the form of a story.__________ When each learner and their teacher understands how they learn best, the learner is more involved in the learning process. The teacher designs a supportive learning environment that allows for each student to personalize how they access and engage with the content as well as how they demonstrate their understanding. This does not imply that students are grouped or taken out of the classroom. A personalized learning environment means redesigning the physical nature of the classroom and the teacher is more of a “guide on the side.” Universal Design for Learning is a registered trademark of Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). Personal Learner Profile is a trademark of Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray of Personalize Learning.
Making Thinking VisibleHow can classrooms become places of intellectual stimulation where learning is viewed not as test scores but in the development of individuals who can think, plan, create, question, and engage independently as learners? Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners offers educators research-based solutions for creating just such cultures of thinking. This innovative book unravels the mysteries of thinking and its connection to understanding and engagement. It then takes readers inside diverse learning environments to show how thinking can be made visible at any grade level and across all subject areas through the use of effective questioning, listening, documentation, and facilitative structures called thinking routines. These routines, designed by researchers at Project Zero at Harvard, scaffold and support one's thinking. By applying these processes, thinking becomes visible as learners' ideas are expressed, discussed, and reflected upon.
The authors, Ron Ritchard, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison, ask "As we shared our research and classroom tested ideas about how to make thinking visible, be it in a classroom or with a group of adult learners, people kept asking us where they could read more about them. How could they learn more about how others were using them? How could they ensure that they and their students weren't just using the thinking routines as activities? To answer those questions we put together this book with help from educators around the world."
Watch a video from co-author Ron Richard about the Importance of Thinking.