Here at White Knoll Middle, our goal has been to shift towards a more differentiated/personalized learning environment for our students. In Lexington One, we define personalized learning as the monitoring and adjustment of instruction in order to meet the learner’s needs. We are currently at about the one year mark of implementing a blended learning instructional model in all ELA and Math classes and are looking to expand into Science and Social Studies classes. Our model has three components/stations: differentiated small group instruction, digital content that supports student learning and a collaborative station. This model is the first step in beginning to personalize and tailor instruction for our students.
The plan is to work closely with one seventh-grade science teacher and two sixth-grade social studies teachers in beginning to shift their pedagogy towards personalized learning. The foundation in all of this is good formative assessment also known as Checks for Understanding. By using formative data (typically qualitative), we can adjust instruction based on the needs of the students and place them in a small group that will be tailored to their needs. This small group instruction cannot be done without digital content to support the rest of your students. This digital content program offers resources for students who are struggling or excelling at a particular topic and works to either fill in gaps or take them further with supporting videos while the teacher can work with those who are struggling the most. OpenEd.com, a digital content library with over 1 million resources that are vetted and aligned to the State Standards, will be used to help in this process.
The reason for this shift is to help meet our students where they are. We have a diverse group of students at White Knoll and often have fallen into the trap of teaching to the middle. By shifting our instructional practices, we can meet our struggling students and try to catch them up while getting our accelerated students to explore deeper into the assigned topic. Mr. Smith would like all Social Studies and Science classes to be blending by Fall of 2016. This would give an opportunity to be ahead of the curve and a leader in the Blended Learning shift.
The technology that we have at our school will allow us to shift the focus from lecture-style, rote memorization, lower level Bloom’s learning to a richer, more in-depth understanding of the content. Students and teachers will be able to utilize this technology tool to address the student’s individual needs; something that would be virtually impossible for a teacher to do for all 135 students.
In order to make these instructional shifts, we must build solid pedagogical foundations in formative assessment, formative data, and differentiation. I would like to meet with you at least once a week to plan and I would like to come into at least one class every week to help you make this shift. I look forward to getting stronger and smarter together as we begin our transition towards a more personalized, blended instructional model.