Everyone is talking about building community, but what does that mean?
There are many ways to build a community. The first is to create a presence in that community that people identify with. Most online environments have various ways that you can do this: building your profile, leaving a comment, retweeting a tweet, uploading pictures and videos, sharing a resource, or collaborating on a project.
How do you create a presence online? How do you sustain an online community?
1. Forming: The group comes together and gets to initially know one other and form as a group.
2. Storming: A chaotic vying for leadership and trialling of group processes
3. Norming: Eventually agreement is reached on how the group operates (norming)
4. Performing: The group practices its craft and becomes effective in meeting its objectives.
Tuckman added a 5th stage 10 years later:
5. Adjourning: The process of “unforming” the group, that is, letting go of the group structure and moving on.
I wanted to take these stages and how they relate to online communities.
Stage 1: Forming
This stage is about building a presence in the group or community. Group members rely on safe, patterned behavior. Group members desire acceptance by the group and a need to know that the group is safe. They gather impressions and data about the similarities and differences among them and form preferences for future subgrouping.
Self-organized learning and social media is all about starting the community around you. An online community may not have a leader. There may be multiple leaders or a self-proclaimed leader who starts the conversations. The leaders can change at anytime. Everyone and anyone can join, contribute, or leave when they want. Some members don’t have a presence. They join and lurk. They are just watching the activity in the community.
How can you build community in a group where members come and go? Can you trust that the profiles of some members are real?
Stage 2, Storming, is characterized by competition and conflict as group members organize. Individual members mold their feelings, ideas, attitudes, and beliefs to suit the group with an increased desire for structural clarification and commitment. Questions will arise about who is going to be responsible for what, what the rules are, what the reward system is, and what criteria for evaluation are. Yet, in an online community, there may be no rules. The reward is connecting or someone responding to you, sharing your picture, or retweeting your tweet.
Is this enough to keep you in the community?
What if someone in the group writes something controversial and upsets many of the members? Will people stay in the group? Some people will step forward and take responsibility for posting, answering questions, and sharing information beyond the community.
In Stage 3: Norming stage, group members are engaged in active acknowledgment of all members’ contributions, community building and maintenance, and solving of group issues. Members are willing to change their preconceived ideas or opinions on the basis of facts presented by other members, and they actively ask questions of one another. Leadership is shared, and cliques dissolve. This is the true online community that is working. When members begin to know-and identify with-one another, the level of trust in their personal relations contributes to the development of group cohesion. It is during this stage of development (assuming the group gets this far) that people begin to experience a sense of group belonging and a feeling of relief as a result of resolving interpersonal conflicts. The major task function of stage three is the data flow between group members: They share feelings and ideas, solicit and give feedback to one another, and explore actions related to the task. Creativity is high. Members feel good about being part of an effective group.
The major drawback of the norming stage is that members may begin to fear the inevitable future breakup of the group; they may resist change of any sort. Actually online communities tend to stay around even if there is no activity. Sometimes you can go back after years and realize you still have a membership there.
Is this a community? Does a community only work if there is activity? Is the community safe? Do you feel safe to post what you believe? How do you trust the people in a community?
In Stage 4: Performing stage, people work independently, in subgroups, or as a total unit. Their roles adjust to the changing needs of the group and individuals. By now, the group is the most productive. Individual members become self-assuring, and the need for group approval is past. Members are both highly task oriented and highly people oriented. There is unity: group identity is complete, group morale is high, and group loyalty is intense. The task function becomes genuine problem solving, leading toward optimal solutions and optimum group development. There is support for experimentation in solving problems and an emphasis on achievement. The overall goal is productivity through problem solving and work.
Do online communities ever get to Stage 4?
The only way I see this stage working is with a facilitator or someone nudging the members of the community to participate online. If you just want a community to share when you want, then you don’t care about a specific task or project. You join the community to connect and share resources or ideas. If you have a specific task or project, then you need a plan with who’s doing what by when… and a facilitator or coach checking in regularly.
Stage 5 Adjourning means a community ends. This is not happening in online communities and social media unless you leave the community. Or the infrastructure housing the community ends.
Some questions about building community:
- How do you design interaction so all members contribute and participate?
- How do you determine roles and responsibilities for each member and the facilitator?
- How do you see the difference of an on-site and online community of practice?
The reason I wanted to discuss this today is that I am in multiple communities where I am the only one posting. It’s frustrating. I write on this blog and people write me via email a question or comment or scoopit or retweet it. I really appreciate when someone comments on my blog even if I don’t agree with their position. People are not posting on blogs like they used to. People are commenting in social media with 140 characters or pinging back in Scoopit or pinning on Pinterest.
Is this community or just a way to share your thoughts and ideas? Online communities are different now then just a few years ago but are they sustainable? Are they real communities that have good discussions that you can refer to later?
I am in groups in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Scoopit and many more social media environments. Are these the type of communities that you can use to build communities of practice? I’ve tried Ning and Wikispaces, but they still depend on the facilitator to get conversations going and many have no leaders. I built My eCoach for educators to build communities of practice. I wanted a safe and secure online community that allowed for private conversations and the ability to share publicly.
I know the word “transparency” is big. However, some things you discuss online happens more effectively in private areas. That means you need to trust that whatever you write or share is used the way you would hope it would be used. You can still publish publicly. Now that everything is moving toward “Open” and “Transparent,” more people are uploading all of their pictures and videos to the cloud. They are also sharing their private conversations. This more than often backfires on the author. Now you can have your own YouTube Channel. Anyone can be an author, a filmmaker, a journalist. But having a coach or facilitator helps. I know I’m taking a chance writing here my thoughts. It would probably be better if someone proofread it first. Oh well! Let’s see if any of you comment on my blog.
I found that many conversations didn’t happen effectively without a facilitator so I set up an eCoach program. eCoaches keep the conversations going and encourage members of the community to participate.
Social media doesn’t care if everyone participates. I believe the different types of communities are used for different purposes. I don’t know what I would do without social media. But I still need My eCoach and many members of My eCoach keep coming back because they know it is safe, secure, and their intellectual property is still in their digital locker. It’s all about believing that all of your material will always be there when you need it. That the conversations are still there. Try to find the tweet with the link you saw last week.
Yes, you can bookmark it on Diigo or Plurk. Facebook is trying to build community based on each member’s timeline. Google+ is trying to build community around circles. I am watching and believing that social media is going to look different in the future. Communities are evolving. Communities are becoming extensions of our families and friends. Actually many are blurring between business, family and friends. I get it that social media is about all of us nudging and supporting each other, but usually only 1-10% are really contributing. I’m keeping My eCoach because I see the importance of public and private spaces and an ability for a facilitator to nudge and help members participate. When communities ended in My eCoach, members stopped using it. All of a sudden, many are coming back. They tried to make their own eCoach system. They used existing programs using social media programs but when they realized that their data is sold to third parties, they lost trust. When they saw relevant ads based on what they were writing in their messages, they didn’t feel safe. When they came back to My eCoach, their “stuff” was still there and there are no adds. Their data is not sold to third parties. Yes, it’s not a great revenue model, but we have to believe in the cloud, in the people, in the community.
So I am part of many communities. My neighborhood is my community. I know many of the people in my neighborhood. I feel safe and secure because I can walk around the block and know that people know who I am and I know who they are. My family is my community. Many are online in my social media but we are family first. I am in different groups online and build ongoing relationships with people I met online, in My eCoach and other communities and now are close in real time face-to-face. Community is important. Building a sustainable community takes time, trust, and building relationships that matter.
What does community mean to you?
Thought Leader Interview:
Greg Wilborn, Personalized Learning Coordinator
Kathleen McClaskey interviewed Greg Wilborn about District 11, Colorado Springs in Colorado and their journey to personalize learning.
Q. Why personalize learning?
Because we finally CAN!
For the first time in our history, we have the tools and access to resources to allow individual learners the flexibility and freedom to pursue an education centered around their own interests and aptitudes. Educators and philosophers for centuries have yearned for education that is learner centered and molded by the learner as opposed to the factory system. While the desire has been there, the methods have been shackled by the restrictions of human interaction and delivery methods. There is only so much that can be personalized with one facilitator, 20 to 40 learners, and print media and production methods.
Technology is the lever that can move learning to heights yet unseen and now is the time to evolve the approaches and systems to support each and every learner anytime, anywhere.
Personalized learning allows learners to have a wide choice of what they learn, how they learn, when, where, and how they demonstrate their learning. Imagine how many ways learners can approach the subject of civil rights if given the right direction, resources, and coaching. Instead of limiting the subject to the content perspective of a certain time period and location, (i.e. the southern United States from 1960 to 1970) learners can research civil rights globally or locally, related to their own family tree, a historic figure, or throughout history. The research can be done on one of several devices, from many locations, and results can be displayed in a variety of engaging formats and even published for the world to see. Creating (verb) is now the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy and learners can now spend much more time in the act of creating something significant from appropriate content that is of interest to them.
Every learner in every corner of the globe with connectivity can now take courses from the finest learning institutions in the world, collaborate with others, compete for the best jobs, or start their own global business. All with just an inexpensive connected computer device. Those who opt out or are left out may find themselves unable to recover therefore it is morally imperative that leaders transform education and make it accessible to all.
Q. What is your school district’s vision of personalizing learning?
At the heart of the District’s Personalized Learning Vision is the desire to provide all learners with a personalized learning experience enabled by universal access to education through technology, wherever and whenever they choose. The provision of a personalized experience for each individual will drive students’ motivation to learn. They will have the opportunity to work individually, in groups, or as a whole class, locally, nationally and internationally.
The entire district will maximize opportunities for promoting learning and engaging students in exciting and innovative ways. Access to technology resources will be far broader than classrooms; schools’ social areas and the external environments will utilize technology through interactive displays, challenges, streaming information and celebrations of achievement that enhance the academic culture of the district.
The development of a learning platform will allow the learning environment to extend beyond school buildings and traditional opening hours. It will give access to resources, individualized plans, targets, communication tools and achievements for all learners. Online access to schemes of work will allow our learners to plan and think ahead, seeing the progression and connectedness of their learning.
Our digital learning environment will allow learners to engage and collaborate with a wide variety of mentors from global industry and education. This collaboration will enhance the quality of resources available and provide an ‘on demand’ approach that helps build personalized learning pathways.
There will be no single mode of learning throughout District 11; technology will provide flexibility to meet the needs of learners working in different ways. This will be supported by an imaginative approach to school usage, providing a variety of physical learning environments.
A combination of fixed and mobile technologies throughout our schools will be necessary to support this vision but possibly the biggest challenge will be providing access at home in terms of both device and connectivity.
Throughout District 11, technology will be used to deliver a ‘wow’ factor to ignite and stimulate learning. The use of technology across all subjects will become a seamlessly integrated part of the learning experience promoting independent working, creativity, enterprise and lifelong success for our students.
Q. What steps have your principals and teachers taken to create personalized learning environments in their school(s)?
We have launched a comprehensive plan to move all of our schools and classrooms towards personalized learning environments. This enormous endeavor is strategically planned and aligned to the Knoster Model for Change to ensure the greatest chance of success.
Upon completion of the district vision we set up meetings with every principal, walk throughs of their building, administered a School Self Review (http://www.gregorydenby.com/self- review.html) for their leadership team, set up training sessions for team planning and offered planning support along the way. Each school now has a strategic plan created by them, for them and aligned to the district’s vision.
It was crucial to meet each school where they were and to coach them to the creation of a plan that meets the uniqueness of their environment and their journey. With this approach, we were met with mostly enthusiastic involvement and a sense of ownership by the school leadership teams. We have organized our schools (scores of 1-3) based on their own School Self Reviews to determine how ready they are to begin personalizing learning; Due to the role that technology plays in the ability to deliver personalization, schools that are farthest behind are grouped as 1’s. These schools need basic technology upgrades and professional development and lack resources at this time. Schools that have better resources but lack effective utilization are grouped as 2’s, and the schools that are resource rich and just need better understanding and more focused professional development are 3’s. By identifying where schools are in a journey towards personalization, we can then plan accordingly and meet the needs they have to move up a continuum of progress. We utilize Hooper and Rieber’s model of technology adoption in the classroom as a guide to progress.
Hooper, S., & Rieber, L. P. (1995). Teaching with technology. In A. C. Ornstein (Ed.), Teaching: Theory into practice, (pp. 154-170). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Given 52 schools one can only imagine the diversity of paths that exist and progress is measured by ensuring small steps are taken each quarter, this is truly a case of eating the elephant one bite at a time. Projects that are in progress now include 1:1 pilots, establishment of standardized teacher tool kits, experimentation with learning platforms, bring your own device initiatives, flipped classrooms, international student to student collaboration, distance learning courses, and a group of Personalized Learning Lead Educators with representation from every school. As a district, we are creating student and teacher skills ladders for the use of technology, a teacher self review, baseline teacher expectations, online professional development, standardized collaborative tools, and a robotic partridge in a pear tree.
Q. How are you preparing and training teachers to move to a learner-centric personalized learning environment?
Everything we do is tied back to our Personalized Learning Vision which states that professional development across the District will be a key element in transforming education. As we promote a personalized approach to our students’ education, we will create a system that delivers the same for our teachers. At the center of the system will be integrated self-appraisal. We are in the process of creating an online self review for teachers which they can take as often as they like. This will enable teachers to assess their knowledge and skills online and then link directly through to interactive training and development resources that can be accessed anywhere anytime, as often as needed. Our online professional development system will provide the most effective resources from the highest quality providers, many of whom will be District 11 educators.
The District will develop a Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group that will continuously investigate and promote personalized learning and the integration of the best educational technologies into our classrooms. The areas chosen for development through leading educators will be informed by the needs of the District and individual school’s planning. The Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group will be instrumental in the development of exemplar lessons, demonstration classrooms and ultimately demonstration schools which will be specific to leveled tiers ensuring appropriate differentiation.
The Personalized Learning Lead Educator Group will:
- Share research.
- Develop learning resources around their area of expertise.
- Deliver exemplar lessons that can be viewed by other teachers (live and/or recorded).
- Explore new and existing technologies.
- Produce and/or find guidance notes (podcasts, video etc.) in their area of expertise.
- Develop resources that promote an ‘on demand’ approach to professional development.
- Use technology to increase the flexibility of professional development e.g., webinars.
There are many smaller projects that will support teacher growth throughout the district. Skills ladders for the use of technology are being created for students and teachers. We will shine the spotlight and camera upon exemplar lessons and learning environments and share them via our online professional development system. We are also working hard to provide an equitable teacher tool kit for every learning space while we continue to refine digital collaborative tools for all learners.
Personalized Learning CoordinatorColorado Springs SD 11Email: email@example.comTwitter: @gwilbornLinkedIN: Greg Wilborn
“I think I’m like many teachers: most of us feel like we haven’t yet arrived where we want to be in terms of what we’re doing with students. I have so much further to go and I really want to do more work that infuses rigor and relevance in the curriculum and connects my students to both their communities and the French-speaking community.” Nicole Naditz
My search for student-centered learning environments led me to Nicole Naditz who teaches French at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks near Sacramento, California. Our conversation first started about flipping the classroom. She wrote me:
“I’m still a novice in terms of fully turning over my curriculum to the students, but I’m always striving to work more in that direction. In the meantime, I work hard to ensure that what their learning is put to meaningful use, is rigorous and engages them with the French-speaking community beyond our school.
For the online projects with other countries, I have typically designed them in cooperation with the other teacher, although my students always have significant input. I tell the students to write a book encouraging children to eat healthfully. After that, they are free to create. The best books are sent to France or Belgium to be put in the waiting rooms of children’s areas of hospitals or dentists.
That’s when I knew Nicole was moving into the student-centered world even if she didn’t realize it. Email after email, I received specific projects from Nicole.
Nicole has taught French to grades 3 through 12, including AP French Language since 1993. Nicole is very active in professional organizations. A recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Jane Ortner Educating through Music Award, she serves as webmaster and advocacy chair on the FLAGS board. She also serves on the Leadership Team of the Capital Foreign Language Project and she served on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages interview committees for the first National Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in 2005 and for the Florence Steiner Leadership in K-12 Education Award in 2007. Nicole was invited to join the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Subject Matter Advisory Panel for Languages Other than English in 2004. She is the founder of the Read Around the World Program and organizes additional opportunities for students to experience languages and cultures outside of the classroom.
Nicole has presented on a variety of topics at local and state workshops since 1999 and has received several grants for study in France and Canada. She was named an Outstanding Teacher by both the Foreign Language Association of Greater Sacramento and the California Language Teachers’ Association and was a finalist for the California League of High Schools Educator of the Year in Region 3. In addition, Nicole achieved National Board Certification in 2003 and earned her M.Ed in 2006. In 2012, she was named San Juan USD Teacher of the Year, Sacramento County Teacher of the Year and was one of 12 finalists for California State Teacher of the Year. That same year, she also became a Google Certified Teacher.
She has been a member of the FLAGS board since 2001. In her spare time, she enjoys figure skating, calligraphy, singing, crocheting, musical theater and travel.
Can you see why I wanted to share Nicole’s personal journey?
Since 2008-09, New Hampshire high school students have been able to work with educators to create personalized learning plans—with course credit awarded for mastery, not time in class. Time in class is based on the Carnegie Unit or seat time. Demonstrating what you know based on mastery is called “Competency-based Learning.” Rose Colby and Fred Bramante wrote “Off the Clock: Moving Education from Time to Competency.” about New Hampshire’s journey to personalize learning. Rose shared with me their story. I bought their book. I’m curious and want to see how this works. How does this work?
Academic credits can be earned year round through internships, online courses, overseas travel, or attending face-to-face classes. Mentors and/or educators set course-competency guidelines, track progress, and conduct final assessments. Assessments are based on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK). DOK, created by Norman Webb from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research, is the degree of depth or complexity of knowledge standards and assessments require; this criterion is met if the assessment is as demanding cognitively as the expectations standards are set for students. DOK refers to the complexity of thinking skills that a task requires.
DOK is about…
- what FOLLOWS the verb. What comes after the verb is more important than the verb itself.
- the complexity of mental processing that must occur to complete a task.
DOK is NOT about…
- verbs. The verbs are a valuable guide, but they can sometimes be used at more than one level.
- the difficulty of what they are learning. All levels of DOK have a place in a rigorous curriculum.
Completely aligned standards and assessments require an assessment system designed to measure in some way the full range of cognitive complexity within each specified content standard. Norman Webb identified four levels for assessing the DOK of content standards and assessment items.
- Level 1: Recall
- Level 2: Skill or Concept
- Level 3: Strategic Thinking
- Level 4: Extended Thinking
DOK implies the interaction of how deeply a student needs to understand the content with different ways of responding and interacting with the content.
DOK levels are not related to the score points. DOK levels are a ceiling, not a target. Why is this distinction between “ceiling” and “target” important?
If assessed only at the “target,” all learners with a Level 3 as their highest demand would only be assessed at Level 3. This would potentially have two negative impacts on the assessment:
- The assessment as a whole could be too difficult; and
- important information about student learning along the achievement continuum would be lost.
- The level of a DOK item is determined by the task (defined by complex thinking and reasoning skills), not grade level or ability of the student.
- Therefore, the DOK of the task does not change with grade or ability of the student.
- Verbs alone do not determine the DOK’s level of an assessment task. DOK’s focus is on how deeply students need to know content for a given response.
- Multiple-choice questions can be written at a DOK 3 or 4 level; however, to design a question in this format is difficult. An Item at DOK level 3 or 4 requires complex reasoning, strategic and extended thinking about the concepts of the content and a real world context, and especially at a level 4 that requires research, investigation and application often over an extended period of time.
Here’s a comparison of Webb’s DOK vs Bloom’s Taxonomy:
Using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge to Measure Rigor
Eric Mazur, a Harvard University professor, says learning interests him far more than teaching, and he encourages a shift from “teaching” to “helping students learn.” The trend toward “active learning” may overthrow the style of teaching that has ruled universities for 600 years. [Harvard Magazine “Twilight of the Lecture” May-June 2012]
How can you engage your students and be sure they are learning the conceptual foundations of a lecture course? In From Questions to Concepts, Eric Mazur introduces Peer Instruction and Just-in-Time teaching — two innovative techniques for lectures that use in-class discussion and immediate feedback to improve student learning. Using these techniques in his innovative undergraduate physics course, Mazur demonstrates how lectures and active learning can be successfully combined. This video is also available as part of another DVD, Interactive Teaching, which contains advice on using peer instruction and just-in-time teaching to promote better learning. For more videos on teaching, visit http://bokcenter.harvard.edu
After seven years of teaching Physics, Mazur realized his students could answer the questions on the test but didn’t grasp the concepts. After administering a test on force, a warning flag went up when one student raised her hand and asked, “How should I answer these questions—according to what you taught me, or how I usually think about these things?” After some soul searching about his teaching techniques, he realized “The students did well on textbook-style problems,” he explains. “They had a bag of tricks, formulas to apply. But that was solving problems by rote. They floundered on the simple word problems, which demanded a real understanding of the concepts behind the formulas.”
He decided to turn everything around and ask his students to discuss the consept with each other. The first time he tried this, it was utter chaos — but it worked. This innovative style of learning grew into “peer instruction” or “interactive learning,” a pedagogical method that has spread far beyond physics and taken root on campuses nationally
Interactive pedagogy, for example, turns passive, note-taking students into active, de facto teachers who explain their ideas to each other and contend for their points of view. (“The person who learns the most in any classroom,” Mazur declares, “is the teacher.”) Active learners take new information and apply it, rather than merely taking note of it. Firsthand use of new material develops personal ownership.
These techniques use the strengths of the Socratic Method that law schools in the US have been using for decades. In law school students read the material before class and in class they discuss with each other the analysis. The whole purpose was to (1) teach you how to think and (2) prepare you for a lifetime of self-learning.
Mazur uses interactive clickers to get instant feedback of understanding. This strategy of active learning can be applied to any grade or age level. Flip the classroom with the concept not just the lecture, then ask each learner to think about it and then discuss it with another learner.
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.
The above graphics are from the Technology Council Report.
As a school district, we continue to reframe our educational practices to try and reflect this shift, particularly as we are beginning to encompass all these new understandings under the umbrella of Personalized Learning.
For myself, I recently attended the UDL course at Harvard in July 2011, which has inspired me to frame our Professional Development using UDL as the filter for Instructional Design. This is at the very beginning stages and has been complicated by a teacher job action that has been in place since September (no meetings, pro-d, etc.). A big part of my growing understanding of Personalized Learning has been through a Personal Learning Network (PLN) that includes my blog, twitter, conferences, webinars, collaborative nings (like UDL Connect).
2. What steps have you taken to create personalized learning environments in your schools?
As I am new to my position (August, 2011 but have been in the district since 1995), I have not personally initiated these projects but as a district, we have done the following:
- 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.
3. How do your schools determine how students learn best?
- 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..
4. How do your students understand how they learn best?
- We’re not there yet…
5. How do you see UDL principles working to create personalized learning environments? How are your teachers implementing the principles of UDL in their daily practice to create a personalized learning environment? Please give examples, share photos and/ or tell a story.
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.
All the reports we have on this program are located here: Wireless Writing
- 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.
The UDL framework is the ultimate tool for Instructional Design and professional reflection. It will enable us to move away from content towards process and learning how to learn. We are a long ways from this but fortunately in our educational jurisdiction of British Columbia, the ministry of Education is allowing us to take the risks necessary to make it happen. I can’t emphasize enough the power of a Personal Learning Network and how it has helped construct my approach to education.
Stephen Petrucci’s Bio
- 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…
Stephen’s Contact info:
The 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.
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.