Day 31. I’ve blogged for 31 straight days. Whew. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was challenging but it was also exhilarating. My plans? I’m not sure yet. Part of me thinks blogging daily is a really high bar…a bit too steep, perhaps? I have this irresistible urge to put a number on it. I’ll blog 2 days a week. Or 7 days a week. What if I just said, instead, I’ll blog regularly. Then again, maybe that’s taking the easy way out. What I know for sure is that blogging is deeply personal and causes reflection which is one of the greatest conduits to growth. So…I think I’ll resist restrictions or hard goals but still find a way to stretch myself. Thanks to the “Two Writing Teachers” for this treasure.
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An essential element of the personalized learning classroom is CHOICE. The definition I use for CHOICE is cobbled together from a variety of sources; take a look:
“Learners must have ownership and invest in their learning. Learning should appeal to individual interests, strengths, and needs as well as enable one to develop and manage self. Students are provided options in all aspects of the learning; this may include co-owning decisions about content, process, product and/or assessment.”
If you spend any time in our room, you will see CHOICE all around. From self-chosen novels to seating, learners are empowered to make good decisions about their learning. Case in point, this trimester I introduced “The Old Geezer Club”. Wanting to encourage students to read “older” books, this club requires members to read a minimum of 2 books written prior to 2000. (Ouch…I feel so old!) Imagine my surprise when the majority of my homeroom said “yes!” to joining the club. Mind you…there are no huge rewards for joining this group; the reward is the feeling of belonging…being part of something.
Time travel with me to the beginning of March:
Sitting down to plan for the third trimester, I considered requiring all of my students to read two books published before 2000; I couldn’t bear the thought that they might graduate from high school never having met Maniac Magee, Matilda or Sam from “My Side of the Mountain.” But that small voice inside me whispered…”remember…experience…create an experience” and “The Old Geezers Club” was born. What will we do in this club? I dunno. I’m just a passenger on this journey…same as my students. Excitement. Joy. Passion. Glee. That’s what I heard today when I asked who was joining the club. No, I cannot guarantee my students will become better readers because of this one experience; but wanting to do something versus being told to do something is a powerful way to cultivate a love for learning.
Around 10:00 a.m. this morning, we had guests visit our learning space. A group of teachers from the Loveland school district spent two hours learning about the work we’re doing around personalized learning this year. I love sharing our journey with others; I want others to feel the joy I feel when I walk into our space.
As I explained to our new friends, my understanding of personalized learning is centered around five main elements:
All five elements are rooted in the idea of student ownership. In the next few weeks, I’d like to explore each of the elements in more depth; to consider how we’ve woven them into our learning spaces and in particular, what we might do to dig deeper.
A huge thank you to the Loveland teachers for venturing out of their comfort zone; for having the courage to listen to that small, persistent voice that whispers, more…there’s more.