Differentiation: Attainable or Somewhere Over the Rainbow?

Here is a very interesting post that does attempts to describe what differentiation look like (and what it does not) for our students. Below is an excerpt from the post.

differentiation cleaning things up

The word data does not have a warm connotation. Saying “data” in conjunction with student learning often feels sterile and uncaring. I often hear sentiments like, “students are more than a number.” And, when I presented with Carol Ann Tomlinson she responded to a question about using data with, “data sounds like something spit out by a machine.”  And, I agree, students are more than a data point. They are more than a number spit out by a machine. And, so is data. Data is more than just numbers, and it can indeed be gathered and appraised in compassionate ways.Let’s look at an analogous situation: a child’s visit to his pediatrician. When a child visits his doctor, he is more than a number there, too. Therefore, in order to form a diagnosis,  pediatricians look at a variety of evidence, some which comes from a lab or machine (weight, temperature, blood count) and some which comes from other assessments (conversations, questionnaires, observing the patient perform a task). Yet, there is little complaint about using multiple types of data in a medical setting. In fact, I surmise that if a doctor made a diagnosis without various types of data, there would be quite a bit of protesting.So, what is the difference?

Source: Differentiation: Attainable or Somewhere Over the Rainbow? – Finding Common Ground – Education Week

The Real Reason Teachers and Leaders are Overwhelmed

Here is a timely post on the subject of change in schools.  A.J. shares 3 guiding statements to support the change process.

Speaking of change, I love this quote from Maya Angelou- “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

Below is an excerpt from his post.

Most of us got into education because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of our students.

Education is the bridge to so many opportunities in this country and around the world. We know as teachers and school leaders the avenues it can open up to any student, and we also know how hard it is for some students to overcome personal circumstances without the help of teachers who care and want to make a difference.It seems that change (and there has been much of it in the last 5, 10, 15 years) frustrates many of us, and leaves us desperate for some consistency in the teaching profession.

I wouldn’t argue that point.Yet, change (like anything else), is not all bad and not all good. It’s a mixed bag. What is true is that change is constant. It’s also getting exponentially quicker. This is not only in education, but in many fields of work. It’s taken a while for change to pick up the speed with which we now see it in the classroom, but it has always been there.So, how do we handle this as teachers and school leaders? How can we keep the frustration and desperation from boiling over and hurting all potential progress? More importantly how can we make sure the frustration and desperation does not trickle down to our students and impact their learning experience in a negative way?

Source: The Real Reason Teachers and Leaders are Overwhelmed – A.J. JULIANI

What Does Personalized Learning Mean for Students? 

Here is post, part of the blog series on personalized learning, focused on what it means for a student. In the post, there are real stories from students about their experiences in a school that have shifted to a personalized learning framework. Jack’s story was very moving! Below is an excerpt from the post.

To put it simply, personalized learning means that each student will have their learning needs met. Many schools begin the shift to personalized learning because they are responding by listening to conversations across their communities with students and their families who share their frustrations with the limitations of the current one-size-fits-all education system and want to see new approaches put into place. In other words, because students and families gain the most from the shift to personalized learning, they are typically the biggest drivers and advocates for these changes.

Source: What Does Personalized Learning Mean for Students? | Getting Smart

Policies for Personalization: Levels, Pace, and Progress

In this blog post, a series of 16 posts centered around the idea of personalization, this author discusses the idea of pacing and proficiency.The author also includes some examples from other schools.

Districts will need to develop a set of policies or guidelines regarding pace, as it is one of the vital and challenging aspects of converting to competency.

Source: Policies for Personalization: Levels, Pace, and Progress – iNACOL

Student Agency…students take ownership of their learning

Great article on a key ingredient to personalized learning…students! Below is an excerpt from the article.

Personalization and student agency go hand in hand — it is nearly impossible for teachers to manage a personalized classroom if students are constantly turning to them for direction. Thus, as schools move toward personalized, competency-based education, they will also want to create the conditions for students to take ownership over their education (i.e., student agency). There are a number of essential ingredients required to create an environment and learning experiences that help students build the skills they need to have agency: a school culture that is grounded in a growth mindset, strategies to help build habits of learning, opportunities for choice and co-design, transparency of learning objectives with well-developed assessments, and high levels of teacher autonomy.

Source: Policies for Personalization: Student Agency – iNACOL

Conquering the Multitasking Brain Drain

Great article by Judy Willis on why multitasking interferes with learning. She shares a self-awareness activity that would be great for students to do for a week and self-assess how these “distractions” actually interfere with their ability to effectively learn!

Contrary to popular belief, multitasking interferes with the quality of learning. These suggestions can help students recognize that scattered focus isn’t their friend during homework time.

Source: Conquering the Multitasking Brain Drain