Teachers have so much on their plate. When you ask them to step out of their comfort zone and personalize learning, some throw their hands up and shake their heads. The idea of personalizing learning means something different to different people. Some teachers only heard that they have to change and felt they were being attacked for the way they taught. Others were confused about the terms. Yet, teaching practice is changing because the world is changing. Preparing children for their future means building competencies and skills along with academics. It also means empowering students to take more responsibility for their learning. This is why I created the Teaching and Learning Approaches chart.
This new direction started by being contacted by schools and teachers from around the world with questions about the Personalization vs. Differentiation vs. Individualization (PDI) v3 chart. Just a few of the questions educators asked me are included below:
- Why is Personalization in the first column?
- Why didn’t we include whole class?
- Is it wrong to differentiate or individualize?
- From outside the US: what is the Carnegie unit?
- Why did we put teacher and learner at the top of the columns?
- How can learners be responsible for teaching and learning?
- What does an assessment OF, FOR, and AS mean?
- How can I move to Personalization when my students are not ready?
- How can I help my students develop agency when the system doesn’t allow it?
The PDI v3 chart was created over five years ago in 2013. That chart has helped educators understand the differences between the terms. Kathleen McClaskey and I worked with schools around the US for over 5 years using that chart in our work. I am proud of all the work that Kathleen and I did during that time. We decided last year to close our company, Personalize Learning, LLC and go in our own directions to do what we do best.
I then invited educators to provide me feedback on a new direction: the Teaching and Learning Approaches chart. What everyone agreed on was that a teacher may address some of the criteria under the different columns and from all of these approaches. In one lesson or project, teachers can …
- introduce a topic to the whole class
- provide resources and support for different groups
- work one-on-one with individual learners
- encourage learners to have voice and choice
Personal learning is when learners drive the learning with support from the teacher. I use the term “Personal Learning” instead of “Personalization” because of the confusion around the latter term. It brought up questions about who owns and drives the learning or if learning is being done to the learner. Some organizations feel more comfortable using the term “personalization.”
I didn’t want to argue over semantics so what I tried to make clear in this chart is how much value a teacher is in all of the approaches and that it is all about the “person” who is learning. That can be the teacher who is also learning by changing teaching practice. Moving to learner agency takes time for learners and teachers. Students may not be ready to let go. Many have learned how to do school and may resist change. Teachers may not have the support, resources, or time to jump in and change how they teach right away. It was clear to me from the feedback how important and more effective scaffolding the skills was for teachers to gently nudge and empower learners to take more ownership of their learning. When teachers and learners build positive relationships first and a culture where everyone’s voice is valued, they will know when to change and try new ideas. This chart is meant as a guide and to calm the fears about changing what they know and do that I heard from teachers.
You are able to download this chart from Slideshare. Please let me know what you think of this chart and how you might use it. You can either email me at email@example.com, use the contact me on this site, leave a comment below, or share on social media.
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