How to take personalized learning to scale


Cross-curricular connections are key to a successful personalized learning effort

Expanding your personalized-learning practice

To put personalized learning into practice, there are a variety of cross-curricular connections that need to happen across a grade-level team, school, and district. Through curriculum mapping, school-wide goals, and thematic exploration, school districts can establish norms and clear standards connections for personalized student experiences. Resources should be curated and differentiated and ready for individual students, “whether it is based on their particular reading levels, the way they like to engage with content in online and offline modes, or whether it is merely thinking about what gets them interested in a topic,” said Burns. Resources can be distributed to individual students using digital tools so that students experience content that is relevant to their goals and interests.

With adaptive-learning software, student’s learning journeys are customized and supported with resources based on their interest and excitement around particular subtopics while at the same time allowing teachers to make data-driven educational decisions. Open-ended creation tools such as movie maker, website creator, and eBook tools provide opportunities for students to create concrete or tangible unit projects showing what they have learned.

Related: 5 edtech tools that take personalized learning to the next level

How to expand personalized learning outward

Educational leaders need to model what a personalized learning environment looks like so that personalized learning happens more widely in classrooms, throughout buildings, and across the district. Customizing professional development based on educators’ interests and needs and providing more flexibility for PLCs establishes norms and a culture that honors the personal experience that school leaders want for students. It is vital for school leaders to allow educators to have time to explore, plan, and reflect on the curation of resources and the redesign of classroom activities that honor student voice and choice. Along with modeling, school leaders need to support personalization by making sure that the school community has the resources necessary to support every individual student.

Burns advised school leaders and classroom teachers that there are multiple ways to infuse personalized learning without feeling overwhelmed by the process. By “chunking it down” into daily, weekly, and monthly goals, finding partners in tech and keeping tool belts light, the school community can focus on one or two areas that feel manageable right now. She also advises leaders and teachers to share their personalized learning journey through social media and connect with other districts and teachers doing the same work.

About the Presenter

Dr. Monica Burns is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, Apple Distinguished Educator, and founder of ClassTechTips.com. As a classroom teacher, Dr. Burns used one-to-one technology to create engaging, standards-based lessons for students. She has presented to teachers, administrators, and tech enthusiasts at numerous national and international conferences including SXSWedu, ISTE, FETC, and EduTECH. She is the author of several books including Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom (ASCD). She visits schools across the country to work with preK-20 teachers to make technology integration meaningful and purposeful. You can find out more about working with Dr. Burns and her books and resources by visiting ClassTechTips.com.

Join the Community

Ignite Digital Learning is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net where educators, librarians, and administrators can explore strategies and tactics for getting every child to be a better thinker, better reader, and better writer through the use of digital resources.

This edWeb broadcast was sponsored by Britannica Digital Learning. The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]

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