Saturday, 26 May 2012

Personalised/Independent Learning

I've been trialing with my Year 4/5 students independent learning. Many other teachers call this personalised learning, as I did too when I first started using the concept. I'm still not sure that independent or personalised are the best words to describe how this looks in my class. I'm still working on the ultimate name..... differentiated, specialised, customised, individualised..... self-directed, targeted....

At the moment, I'm running this time during my reading block. While I'm teaching my reading groups, the rest of the children are completing word study, handwriting, journal writing and blogging tasks. At the beginning of the week I present the children with a list of must-dos and can dos. I have found that many of the children in the class can successfully manage thier time and begin completing the can-do tasks. However, some don't even get half of their must-dos done because they don't yet have the concept of time-management.

The other problem I was having was that often things would crop up during the week and they would not be on the list, and by the following week the idea was 'out of date.' This was temporalily fixed by leaving space on the list for tasks to be added to. Or, school events and class tasks for specific students would crop up and by Friday there was not enough time for many of the tasks to be completed. This left the students feeling like they had underachieved and not rewarded for their hard work because they had not got to the can-do activities. What to do.?.?.?.

Fortunately, a very timely opportunity came up for me to go and listen to some interesting 10 minute presentations at a CAGE (gifted education) meeting. Here, I heard the amazing reports of year 2 students successfully completing daily timetables. These students were then spending time each Friday to reflect upon thier time coming up with a WOW factor, and a Hot Tip (next step). Then they would set a goal and write a letter home informing their parents of thier goal.

A year 3-4 teacher was doing something very similar with her students. Each day she presents must-dos and WILDs (What I'd Like to Do) to her students via Edmodo. The students were then able to upload their work the site and parents could access it via home as. This teacher also talked about James Nottingham's Learning Pit. Her class instead, had a Tightrope for Learning which was represented by a string across part of the room where each child had thier photo joined to a body. By pegging themselves upright the teacher could clearly see who was finding things too easy and could then approach the student to put them in the wobbling zone - pegged sideways. If the child was upside-down the teacher could clearly see they had fallen off, again, indicating to the teacher she needed to make time to catch up with that student. I love this idea and I think it would effectively within a classroom.

Next steps...
  • Build in a Friday reflection and goal setting
  • Utilise our school Ultranet site to present daily tasks
  • Include more 'fun' personal experience can-dos

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