Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Classroom Innovations that Embrace Personalized Learning

Anne Johnson is a science teacher at Cooper High School.  She decided that she wanted to take a unit she has taught in the past and make it personalized for students.  She had the idea that if students had the ability to go at their own pace and have some choice of activities, her students would be more engaged and empowered in their learning.  She broke up the learning of the unit into pods.  She then arranged her classroom into small groups. “When a student arrived at a POD and didn’t understand what to do they would ask another student for help, which free’d me up to work with the more needy students”

One pod was a “Help me” POD for those students requiring more guided work.  Students were assisted in navigating going from one pod to another with their Schoology course.  If a student completed one pod, they moved to another table group for the next pod.  Each table group had the materials needed for that pod.  Some pods involved watching video lectures and others involved experiments or craft activities.  Students were cleared to move to the next pod by passing a quiz or completed a set of work.  Johnson explained that “Students that completed ALL assigned work were rewarded.  Six lucky students got to pick from a box of treats, trinkets, and gift cards (no more than $3).”  Johnson reported that “Student completion of work increased for all classes.  There were students that don’t turn in work, completing work on a daily basis.  Students seemed to enjoy the fact that they could take charge of how fast they learned this topic.”

Johnson started thinking about this change when she took part in the summer Technology Adventure Cohort last summer.  She commented that her time to explore technology such as PlayPosit and Schoology helped her to figure out how to lay out the unit for the students.   She also was inspired when she learned she could get some new furniture, wrap-around whiteboards and technology in her classroom.  “I look forward to coupling the new technology installed in my classroom with this model of learning.  Having access to more ways of expressing themselves, such as using whiteboard space, better group dynamic,  or ergonomics, should increase the engagement of students even more.”

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