Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Messy Learning: Interview with Chris Edwards


Transformational Teacher Interview: Chris Edwards

Chris Edwards is a year 2 - Class2CE teacher at Chad Varah Primary School, Addison Drive, Lincoln, England. The school is for children in years F (4yrs old) to 6 (11yrs old) with nearly 500 children in the school. There are 2 forms (classes) per year group with approximately 30 children in each form (class). Before Chris became a teacher, he was a professional musician. During that time, he occasionally worked with children, teaching music. Chris loved it so much that he decided to become a teacher. He has now been teaching six years.

We have been asked by primary teachers how to personalize learning for young children, so we interviewed Chris how he has personalized learning for children 6 to 7 years old. 

Q. Why did you decide to personalize learning?

A. I decided to personalise learning in my classroom about a year ago.  I watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson (the king of creativity) speaking about how he believes that our current education system is killing creativity. What made me think the most was when he said this: “Shakespeare was in someone’s class once, right?” And I thought wow! I have never considered who I may have in my class! I had never realised that in my class could be the next Steve Jobs, the next Prime Minister… What if there is a child in my class now who has the potential to cure cancer… When I started thinking in this way, it changed everything. It made me realise that the most important thing was ensuring that every individual child in my class, realised and reached their full potential.

To make things worse, with that in mind, when I evaluated the teaching and learning in my classroom, I realised that it was not fit for purpose. Regardless of the good observations, I couldn’t, hand on heart, say that the teaching and learning in my classroom inspired and enabled every individual to reach their full potential and develop their individual talents. So I changed it. [Read about how Chris used iPads during an evaluation hiding in his cupboard while his children researched how to bring him home from Greenland.]

I am confident that I now have a system in place that doesn’t kill creativity but rather encourages and engages children in learning. Most importantly I’m confident that we are developing an environment in which all children, supported by me (the facilitator), can begin to realise and reach their full potential.

Q. How are learners in your class changing?

A. The learners in my class are changing in a very noticeable way.  The learners in my class are no longer passive. They are engaged in their own learning and are motivated. Most importantly, they are learning to be resourceful and resilient.  Learning anything is an inherently frustrating process. How can it not be? If we knew it all already, we would not be "learning"! Therefore, having a personality that is more likely to carry on despite frustrations - that is, being academically resilient - is proving to be a huge success. In the form of the iPad, children have a multi-purpose tool that enables them to problem solve effectively. This is helping children to become resourceful and resilient.

Q. What are you going to do to different this year in your classroom?

A. Over this next academic year I will be carrying out a small scale research project. I have called this project ‘Messy Learning.' Over the course of the year, I will focus on and try to answer the following questions…
  1. Can we ensure better progress (against nation curriculum targets – movement through lit and num levels) when we engage children in personalised learning using handheld devices?
  2. Are children more likely to discover and develop their individual talents when engaged in personalised learning and are using handheld devices?
  3. Is it important that children discover and develop their individual talents or should we focus on basic skills (literacy and numbers)?


Q. How did you change your classroom?

A. I learned how to redesign my classroom from Kevin McLaughlin. Here are a few pictures of the redesign of my classroom.

Whole class view
Demonstration/Show Zone 

 Discussion Zone

 Group/Help Zone

Research/Discovery Zone

 Thinking Zone

Twitter: @ChrisEdwards83

Thank you, Chris!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

5 W's of Personalized Learning eCourse (5WS102)

FULL - Winter Series 5WS102
Starts Wed. February 7th throughA pril 25th, 2013*
[For many of our international participants, this series is available the next day your time]


The 5 W’s are the What, Who, Where, Why, and Wow to Personalize Learning. Learn what is and what is not personalized learning, learn how learners learn best, walk through the Three Stages of Personalized Learning Environments, understand how teacher and learner roles will change, and how to use assessment AS learning. 

The 5 W's eCourse includes five webinars, online asynchronous discussions, web conferencing, chats, resources, examples, models of transforming an activity to Stage One Personalized Learning Environments, and participation in a Community of Practice. The webinars and chats will be archived for participants especially for those in different timezones. 

Times for synchronous sessions:
*Wed. [2/7, 2/28, 3/21, 4/4, 4/25,- 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT] The next day for most of our international participants.

Fee: $299 for 30 hour 2 unit course

2 Units of Graduate Credits from Plymouth State University for an additional fee.

The five part series will provide teachers, coaches, and administrators the what, who, where, why, and wow of personalizing learning with the opportunity for participants to learn how they can personalize learning and collaborate in the Community of Practice with educators from all over the world. Many of our participants join as teams from their school or organization so they can continue the conversations at their site.  

Session #1: What is Personalized Learning?
Wed. [2/7- 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT] 
Build a common language about what personalizing learning is and is not. We will be introducing the Personalization vs Differentiation vs Individualization chart so you understand the differences around the terms and how they complement each other. 

Session #2: Who are your Learners? 
Wed. [2/28 - 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT] 
To transform learning for all learners, it is important to know who your learners are. We will provide an understanding about how learners learn best using Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Expert Learners, the Personal Learner Profile and Class Learning Snapshot.

Session #3: Where is Personalized Learning?
Wed. [3/21 - 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT] 
We will walk through the Three Stages of Personalized Learning, share the research, examples and models of each stage along with discussions on how personalizing learning is a culture shift.

Session #4: Why Personalize Learning? 
Wed. [4/4 - 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT] 
We will reflect on why it is important for learners to become self-directed, self-monitoring, independent, expert learners. Referring to our chart, Assessment as learning is based in research about how learning happens, and is characterized by learners reflecting on their own learning and making adjustments so that they achieve deeper understanding.

Session #5: Wow - Teacher and Learner Roles Change!
Wed. [4/25 - 3:30 PDT, 4:30 MDT, 5:30 CDT, 6:30 EDT
When you personalize learning, teacher and learner roles change. Teachers can become a co-designer, co-learner, guide, and partner in learning. We will refer to expert and independent learners, the continuum of learning, and then show how teachers and learners can be partners in learning. We will provide examples, models, and research about these changing roles.

We offer a discount to your school or district for 5 or more attendees.  
Contact us if you would like us to set up the 5 W's eCourse for your teachers and administrators or would like your own 5 W's eCourse for your organization.