As technology becomes more and more ubiquitous in classrooms across the nation, it is easier than ever for students with different learning styles and needs to create personalized learning environments.

A new report from iNACOL gives educators, parents, and policymakers a platform to learn about and advocate for personalized learning in their schools.

The report makes the case that, due to a large opportunity gap, not all students enter college or the workforce with the digital skills they need to succeed. Advocating for personalized learning and involving stakeholders and community members in conversations about personalized learning helps make those learning opportunities more accessible for all students.

“Across the country, communities are coming together to explore deep conversations about how they can better ensure that students will graduate with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need for a well-rounded education and to be prepared for future success,” said Susan Patrick, iNACOL president and CEO. “This report empowers communities, families and educators to understand the potential of how teachers are personalizing learning to help each student get what they need to truly excel and thrive.”

 

Under a personalized learning system, teachers design learning to meet the needs of every student. Each student works to meet the same goals, but with different learning strategies and supports. Personalized learning systems tend to share some similarities, including student-centered learning, focusing on more than just test scores, letting students progress when they’re ready, and offering anytime anywhere learning.

(Next page: How 5 schools personalize learning for students)

Here is how 5 schools and districts are personalizing learning for their students:

1. Lindsay Unified Public Schools: The district personalizes learning by giving students a performance-based model that lets students progress after they demonstrate mastery. School days are split between self-directed learning and teacher-led instruction. District teachers are called “learning facilitators,” and even during teacher-led instruction, students can choose from various assignments and learning experiences. The district’s online Empower system tracks student data to ensure all students are successful on their learning paths.

2. North Queens Community High School: The school, which relies on mastery-based grading, focuses on organizing its structure around what each student needs to be successful. Focusing on growth helps students succeed while giving them responsibility for their own education.

3. Taylor County School District: District leaders realized that “one size fits all” doesn’t work when it comes to student learning. Now, teachers and students work together to create individualized learnig plans based on students’ needs, interests and goals. The approach includes project-based learning, self-based learning, online learning, and peer-led instruction.

4. JFK Eagle Academy: The school developed a program focused around Socratic seminars and leadership development, because teachers and school leaders believe students benefit from inquiry, critical thinking and problem solving. Students work at their own pace toward college and career readiness.

5. LINC High School: School administrators believe every student can be a leader, and student agency, leadership and character education is an important part of the school’s philosophy. Classes aren’t organized into traditional subjects, but instead are grouped into 30-day “learning modules” that integrate various subjects and let students explore local, national and international issues through research and critical thinking.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura