You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…Dr. Seuss
Who doesn’t love some Dr. Seuss? I believe his book Oh! The Places You’ll Go! could almost be a manifesto for Personalized Learning!
In my last post, I mentioned that I was building that Personalized Learning plane while I fly it. I have been working on setting up data notebooks for my students and thinking a lot about how to approach it. Each child is different and unique, therefore personalized practice is necessary for personalized learning. Student ownership and use of their data is essential to maximize learning. With student-maintained data folders for academic and behavioral goal setting, we can have a shared monitoring of progress through conferencing. Since data drives my instruction, there will be ongoing personalization of instruction to help meet student goals. For each skill, students will determine their goal and will maintain their goal sheets after each assessment. These folders will be accessible to students all the time so they will always have access to their progress. The folders will originally contain the usual assessments we give in the beginning of kindergarten…letter identification, naming letter sounds, beginning sight words, number recognition, rote counting, and shapes. As students master these early skills, we will move on to the next set of skills. Each one moves on as he/she is ready.
I was already doing this the last few years with high frequency words. As students demonstrated mastery of one list, we added to the list. We continued to add words as their abilities increased. The last 3 years, all of my students completed 100 kindergarten sight words. Most finished first and second grade sight words and even a few more finished third grade words. I stopped at 3rd grade because comprehension begins to break down at that point.
But wait…I teach kindergarten. How in the world will these young children be able to handle keeping track of data folders? It is all in the way you organize your environment for learning and the expectations you set. By working with each student, they will learn to take ownership in their learning. By shared monitoring, they will learn how to make adjustments in their goals and articulate what they are learning. You see, the key concept here is that they will learn. As my students learn to create content with their iPads and create digital portfolios of their workflow, they will grow in their ability to discuss concepts and ideas.
Part of my job as the lead learner in the classroom is to teach them how to be a stakeholder in their learning process. And yes…even 5 year olds can handle it! After all, “Things may happen and often do to people as brainy and footsy as you!”
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!