Monday, June 22, 2015

Personal Professional Learning

We had another fantastic #plearnchat with great conversations on June 22nd about teachers as learners and how they can own drive their own Personal Professional Learning. 

We were getting so many questions about how teacher roles change from our last #plearnchat that we brought up the idea of teachers taking control of their learning. The feedback was amazing and we received ideas for questions and conversations from around the world for today's chat. 

We had people from all over who really found this topic exciting. Teachers work so hard and summer is on its way for all of us in the northern hemisphere. So we decided to put the learning on you! The big question framed the conversations: "How do teachers support and drive their own learning?"

First thing we asked was what are the differences between traditional PD and Personal Professional Learning? 

Lisa Welch, @lt1teach came up with a great answer: "Traditional PD is given to you...Personal Professional Learning is something you seek.

Janet Chow, @beyondtech1 came up with "It's the difference between someone thinking you can't think on your own and being responsible to create your own path." 

The tweets were pretty similar and consistent throughout the chat with teachers ready for change. At the end, we asked participants to come up with two words that summarize teachers as learners too. So we created a wordle on the right with Tagxedo with everyone's two words. Tagxedo lets you create different shapes. 

Here are a few resources from our chat:
We would like to congratulate Staci McKee, @my4ccoa who won our book, Make Learning Personal

Staci is a 5th/6th grade Language Arts & Social Studies teacher at Conesville Elementary in the River View Local School District, Ohio. Staci loves reading and to introduce her learners to new books and authors each week. She also shared some great ideas in #plearnchat including how social media helps her learn: 

"Without my PLN and Twitter I would not have known about many of the Personal Professional Learning opportunities that I have been able to take advantage of. #plearnchat

Next #plearnchat is in 2 weeks on Mon. July 6th at 7pm ET: 
Topic is UDL and Personalized Learning
Here is the archive of the #plearnchat on Personal Professional Learning:

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Focus on the Learner Not Technology

Are you confused about what is Personalized Learning? It means different things to different people depending on where and how it is referenced. Some believe it is about promoting software programs or apps that personalize learning for you. Our focus is on the learner first.

Technology is moving the idea of “personalized” forward everywhere we look. When you order a book, movie, or other product or service online, you get “personalized” recommendations for similar products based on your previous selections. You can even “personalize” your connections to new friends based on past connections. This approach of using algorithms to connect similar ideas, people, and products is being reframed as “personalized” in the form of “adaptive learning systems” for education. Educators are confused when they walk through an educational conference and see the word “personalized” everywhere around all types of products and services.

Companies are very good at framing their programs as personalized learning. Many textbook companies promote their curriculum with pacing guides and some call them "personalized." Be aware of who is framing their story around "personalized learning." Read Elliot Washor's post "What do you mean by "personalized learning?" on framing and the confusion around the term.

Is personalizing learning done to you or for you, or do you personalize learning for yourself?

Personalized Learning means...
Personalized Learning does not mean…
the teacher guides the process so learners have voice and choice in learning.
teacher-directed differentiated or individualized instruction.
learners acquire the skills to choose and use appropriate resources and tools for tasks.
using technology for instruction in the form of adaptive learning systems.
learners develop learning plans based on goals, strengths, interests, and passions.
technology develops learning plans based on data and performance using algorithms.
learners understand how they learn best using UDL principles to access information, engage content, and express what they know.
teachers use standardized tests or learning styles to understand how learners learn.
teacher and learners monitor progress of learning and adjust strategies as they learn.
teacher responds to areas for intervention after learner struggles or fails.
transforming the system so the focus is on the learner first.
staying with the “status quo” or using technology because it is easier to implement.
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a trademark of CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology)

Technology in the form of adaptive learning systems and most test prep programs puts the focus on performance. Online adaptive learning services provide individualized learning experiences by applying mathematical modeling to learners’ studying. Their software is adaptive as the content it presents changes based on the learner’s performance-- by their strengths and weaknesses. Algorithms dictate the most appropriate next question for learners. 

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons 

This image of 'Teaching Machines' was originally created years ago and then included in Phil McRae's post on the Rebirth of the Teaching Machine through the Seduction of Data Analytics and then from Barbara's post This Time It's Personal and Dangerous where she expanded on McRae's article and shared: 
"The idea of children having their own personal choice how they will learn is being redesigned as increasingly data driven, standardized, and mechanized learning systems. Children should not be treated like automated teller machines or credit reward cards where  companies can take their valuable data."

In a personalized learning environment, learners actively participate in their learning. They have a voice in what they are learning based on how they learn best. Learners have a choice in how they demonstrate what they know, what paths they take to learn, and provide evidence of their learning.

In a personalized learning environment, the teacher is the guide on the learner's personal journey. When learners have choices to interact with the content and discuss what they watched, read, and learned, they are actively participating in learning. Encouraging learner voice and choice is the key difference to the other terms: differentiation and individualization. When learners have a voice in how they learn and a choice in how they engage with content and express what they know, they are more motivated to want to learn and own their learning.

The system needs to change from focusing on performance and tests to rethinking the design of teaching and learning around how learners learn best.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Teacher and Learner Partnerships

We had another fantastic #plearnchat with great conversations on June 1st about teacher and learner partnerships with a wonderful group of people. The topic was from Trend #9 in the 10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015.

Personalized learning is all about building relationships. The partnership between teacher and learner is about understanding how they learn best using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express.

The conversations are all about the learning, their interests, aspirations, and hopes; along with their strengths and challenges. A learner may share and reflect on learning in their Personal Learning Plans. This partnership says to the learner how much the teacher cares about them, their learning and their future. 32 states have begun to use Personal Learning Plans (PLP) or Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) with 21 states mandating for use with all learners.

At the end, we asked participants to come up with one word that summarizes teacher and learner partnerships and why they matter. That was fun!

Here are a few resources from our chat:

Congratulations to Steve Morrison who won our book, Make Learning Personal

Steve is a Core French Teacher implementing technology into the rotary French Classroom and uses Google Share option for kids to peer edit French work. He is an inclusive educator who integrates students with special needs into his Phys Ed program and was recognized with the "Inclusive Educator of the Year" award in 2009 for Halton District School Board (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)

Steve runs a touch football league at school entitled "Morrison's Real Morden Football League" (MRMFL) but that really stands for "Male Role Model Football League" as "at Risk kids" are drafted onto each team in the league. He is also a motivational speaker and presenter of technology in the classroom. 

Steve's Twitter is @mostats_mrmfl and his website: 

HEADS UP! Next #plearnchat is in 3 weeks on Monday 6/22 at 7pm ET
Next topic is Personal Professional Learning


Archive of #plearnchat on Teacher and Learner Partnerships from June 1, 2015