Teacher as Coach: The World of Personalized Learning

Education is rapidly changing and one of the buzzwords you’ve likely heard is “personalized learning.” This approach to learning places students in the driver’s seat, giving them more control over their own education. Teachers become like coaches, teaching students the rules and skills of the game, but ultimately stepping back and letting the kids play. When implemented successfully, personalized learning increases student engagement and performance.

Private tutors and teachers with small classes can already tailor their instruction to each student as necessary. However, many teachers face the daunting task of ensuring that all 30+ students in all of their classes succeed. Technology enables personalized learning to help make this task easier. Larger classrooms and virtual schools can now reap the benefits of catered instruction when and where students need it.

The Wisewire September 2016 newsletter included three basic approaches to personalized learning. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has an entire book about personalized learning that you can download from their website, as well as other resources that provide an in-depth explanation of personalized learning.

Personalized learning goes beyond merely transferring traditional classroom experiences and lesson plans to a digital format. It shifts the focus from teachers giving knowledge and students receiving it to students choosing how they will learn the content based on their own needs and goals. Some may find this shift uncomfortable, but any new approach takes some getting used to. Technology gives students a greater choice in how they achieve their learning goals because different assessment pathways and varied project assignments provide more opportunities for students at different levels to succeed in class.

According to Grant and Basye (2014), a successful personalized learning program has several key factors that drive student engagement and performance. Here are a few:

  • daily online collaboration with other students using educational games and social media
  • use of technology in the core curriculum
  • weekly online assessments
  • frequent use of search engines and virtual field trips

Summit Learning has a free personalized learning platform offering complete immersion for teachers and students. If you’re not quite ready to make the plunge, Wisewire has a plethora of resources to help you begin the transition. Here are just three representative examples:

  1. Arguing for Change (Grade 6): Students write an argument to end bullying. This lesson uses text and media to give students multiple access points and solve a real-world problem. It’s perfect for October, National Bullying Prevention Month.
  2. Understanding Quotients of Whole Numbers (Grade 3): This lesson includes alternative activities for struggling students and extra practice for excelling students, meeting students where they are and helping them successfully complete the lesson.
  3. Matching Definitions (Grade 7 assessment item): This technology-enhanced item provides hints and feedback for students.

Finally, if you’re the creative type, you can make your own lesson content and assessment items. Clone and modify items to give to learners at different levels. Whether you use our content or create your own, Wisewire can help you step into the brave new world of personalized learning.

Have you or your school district used personalized learning? How well did it work? What suggestions do you have for improved outcomes? Let us know in the comments!