Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Creating a Learner Profile for Personalized Learning

In my very first blog, I discussed student profiles as the cornerstone for shifting education from teaching curriculum to teaching students.

This concept is worth mentioning again, particularly in the context of Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning.  There are 2 specific tools I would like to share that are easy to implement in the first couple of weeks of school and that would provide the basis for Instructional Planning.  First of all, here is a graphic that reflects my thinking around planning for student success:

The first tool is a Multiple Intelligences Survey (Gardner) - of which there are many you can find online.  This particular one would allow students to fill it out and graph their results.  This of course would also make a great math activity!  The results could then be compiled into a class profile that shows the overall predominate strengths of the class.  Here's an example of an individual's results:

The second tool is based on Sternberg's Inventory of Analytical, Creative and Practical domains.  This is a well-recognized tool that fits well with the Multiple Intelligences survey.

This Power Point presentation introduces the "Student Profile Card" and the inventories that go along with it.  It serves as a powerful tool for ongoing assessment and lesson planning for the teacher. 
There are many Learning Styles that are present in any given classroom.  The more time we take to assess these styles and have our students involved in the process, the better prepared we are to Personalize the learning for our learners.

Have a great week,


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Personalized Learning: Kony 2012

Well-Crafted Documentary + Social Media = Ignition

Michael Moore has got to be jealous...  When he produced "Bowling for Columbine" in 2002,  the first version of what would eventually become Facebook was still a year away from being invented by 18 year-old Mark Zuckerberg.  Twitter was four years away.  "Going viral" was still thought of as a medical term.   Kony 2012 was viewed by 55 million people in less than a week.  It's following continues to grow. It was the "perfect storm" of a popular cause with good film making and an even better social media strategy that targeted celebrities and policy makers. 

When I think about the goal of Social Responsibility in our district, I believe we need to empower our students to develop similar skills for local or international issues - particularly the skills to create a good documentary.  Unfortunately, documentary film-making has often been the purview of fringe or political organizations, relegated to late-night TV.

The art of documentary film-making is a very personal and creative experience.  There is hardly a better example of Personalized Learning as the director/student reveals an issue literally through their lens.   It also reminds us that being passionate about something is the ultimate motivation.  In British Columbia, there is the occasional film competition that gets sent out to schools such as the one to produce a commercial to stop drunk-driving as well as the BC Student Film Festival held each year at Capilano University.  Recently, a few students from our district - SD60 - created a promotional video on the Energetic Learning Campus that demonstrates a lot of style and creativity:

Nevertheless, I believe the art of documentary film-making can be better developed in the North.  What is particularly encouraging is that it no longer requires highly specialized equipment and complex software.  A student could make one with their smartphone.  And as far as distribution goes, the students are already experts: it's called Social Media...

Until we develop a broad range of expertise in our region, there are some training opportunities in larger centers for both students and teachers.  One in particular that I attended a few years ago is the Gulf Islands Film and Television School - G.I.F.T.S.  Here is an example of a short documentary made this past summer by some high school students in the lower mainland.  It is called "ME" and is about acceptance of who we are:

The session I attended was over the course of a weekend but there are a variety of courses and time commitments that can fit any schedule and there are bursaries/scholarships available.

Rather than talk about Social Responsibility with our students, how about we let them take over.

Have a great week,

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Minecraft: Personalized Learning

In reflecting on what examples/explanations we have of personalized learning, I thought of how engaged/obsessed my boys were with the game Minecraft.  I have seen them play but what I found particularly interesting was the premise of the game on this review website:

Minecraft's premise is incredibly simple. Dropped into a hostile world of blocky graphics, you use the tools at your disposal to create. Every surface and object in the world can be manipulated, harvested and combined in countless ways to create building materials, tools, mechanisms, and gadgets. You can join with other players or reign alone in your pixellated kingdom. 

The reviewer continues with a quote from the creator of Minecraft - Markus "Notch" Persson (same website):

"If something ever doesn't feel fun, I'll remove it. I believe that I can combine enough fun, accessibility and building blocks for this game to be a huge melting pot of emergent gameplay."  

I couldn't help but see how compelling an example this was of personalized learning.  I also wondered if the current educational environment resembles "a hostile world of blocky graphics"!  I am not an advocate of video games but I know there are things we can learn from their success, particularly for our boys, who have been falling behind for years.  The first thing that struck me was that, as in most video games, "YOU" are the driver/creator/leader/main character.  In other words the perspective that counts is the one seen through the eyes of the player/learner.

This reminds me of a recent report I just read by Kathleen McClaskey (@khmmc) and Barbara Bray (@bbray) that outlines the differences between personalized, differentiated and individualized learning.   Here again, they explained that in personalized learning, the emphasis is on the input from the learner whereas in the other two paradigms, the emphasis is on what the teacher does.  Here is the chart:
The second concept of Minecraft that stood out for me was the myriad of tools a player/learner could access and manipulate in order to create and make sense of their world.  I have previously blogged about the importance of a personal toolkit for the teachers and the students.  How diverse is the toolkit we provide our students and teachers?  Are they adaptable? The good news here is the exponential growth of TechEd tools that we an access for free.

Finally, to "create" is a fundamental element in both Minecraft and Education.  I just finished attending the ArtStarts showcase in Vancouver and was reminded once again of the congruous relationship between the arts and personalized learning.  Whether you reference Gardners' multiple intellegences or Rosenstock's work around project-based learning, the arts are the ultimate vehicle to student engagement and success.

Education is not meant to be entertainment but there's no reason why it can't be fun!

Have a great week,