Monday, March 7, 2011

Personalizing Learning to be Successful in the 21st Century

The Manson Northwest Webster School Board had it's monthly Education Board Meeting on March 3, 2011. The agenda focused on reform and preparing our students for the future. It was an exciting evening and there was rich discussion about education in the future, preparing students for life beyond school, and what Manson Northwest Webster might look like in the years to come. I feel priviledged to have facilitated such a rich discussion about what's best for students. We used this guiding question as an umbrella for conversation.
What do our students need to know and be able to do to be successful in the 21st century?

The basis of the discussion was framed around the report that came out of the Personalized Learning Symposium that took place on August 4-6, 2010 in Boston. The symposium brought together three key groups of education leaders – local and state practitioners, national thought leaders, and senior technology executives – with participants selected for their vision, leadership, and expertise with personalized learning.

The following five essential elements were identified as being central to personalize learning. These elements provided the framework for the MNW Board's discussion. The bullets under the elements below are summary points of the discussion.

1) Flexible, Anytime/Everywhere Learning

you don’t need to be in the building to learn (or access curriculum)

learn at their own pace

don’t have to be with peers

focus on student interests

kids need to be engaged and accountable for their own learning

What does this look like, might look like? Do we know for sure?

Kids coming and going to see instructors

might be referred to as the open campus model.

It could mean a more automated system

more access to experts (Kahn University)

is there a base or core knowledge that all students need to have?

teachers become facilitators of the learning

2) Redefine Teacher Role and Expand “Teacher”

Teacher is facilitator

Students may not always go to the teacher for information

Students have advisors

Perhaps not one teacher per group of students, but a team of teachers with differentiated roles.

Teacher would not necessarily have to be in building

3) Project-based/Authentic Learning Opportunities

We don’t want virtual learning without collaborative projects

What is the role of project-based collaboration in virtual learning?

If teachers trust student inquiry--children will discover great things.

Classrooms become nation-wide/ world-wide and students collaborate online

When technology increases, the authentic learning opportunities grow

4) Student Driven learning Path

Long range planning needed

Gives individual students more opportunities to learn, their method of learning

Students would have more control of the pace of their learning

Time should become the variable, not the learning(mastery)

5) Mastery/competency-Based Progression/Pace

The only place this happens now is in the alternative program

Quarters, semester, trimesters wouldn’t work in this type of learning

How does this impact funding?

Reauthorization of NCLB will be based on the growth model (Jeff H.)

Does this system lend itself to year around school?

As soon as a student masters a topic, s/he moves on.

The meeting was live streamed, collaborative Google notes were taken and shared, and several teachers and anonymous viewers joined in via the u-stream and Google Doc.

The discussion will continue at the April Education Board Meeting.

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