A foundational piece of any learner-centered approach involves gaining a deeper understanding of our students. We know that learner variability exists, and research suggests it is growing in classrooms across the nation. It is therefore essential to personalize instruction based upon learner differences if we are going to ensure that all students thrive in our schools. To do this effectively, we must develop a more nuanced understanding of each students’ particular abilities and needs.
We often hear of the need to redesign schools to support modern learning environments, and yes, we should. But how often does a school’s investment in these spaces clearly support and enable a shift towards innovative, student-centered practices? Not so much. That is why when I had the chance to visit Montour Public Schools last Spring, I jumped at the opportunity.
This week I had the incredible opportunity to help launch my school district’s new “Personalized Learning Fellowship.” We spent the day exploring the what, why and how of Personalized Learning, while also engaging in deep discussions about the current state of K-12 education and ways that we can shift to create a more relevant and impactful learning experience for our students.
Over the past few years, in several different roles, I have researched and experimented with various frameworks and approaches to Personalized Learning. Despite the vast amount of resources out there that describe what personalized learning is and how to implement it, it is often difficult to find quality research that gets to the “why” of personalization.
Although Personalized Learning has gained considerable traction in education, there is still much confusion and, at times, heated debate regarding what this set of ideas actually means and looks like in practice. Fortunately, there has been a relative convergence of key concepts and essential components of Personalized Learning (PL) that can help frame a more nuanced discussion moving forward as schools explore and implement different iterations of PL.
Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to work alongside several groups of education leaders at the EdTechTeacher Innovation Summit in Boston. Of all the themes, topics and challenges we explored, the biggest takeaway for me had to do with time.
A couple weeks back I posted a collection of articles addressing the nature of edtech ambassador programs and topics related to the evolving relationships between educators and the edtech industry. Here is my take on the issue.
As many of us have witnessed, discussion about edtech companies and their relationships with teachers has heated up across the country. Although this issue has been around for a while now, it has recently come to the forefront in many school communities following a New York Times article published a few weeks ago that took a particular stance on the issue.
Over the past few weeks, I have spent some time researching the issue from multiple angles. I quickly discovered how nuanced of an issue this is and how these discussions go well beyond the scope of any one particular "ambassador" program.
What is the value of a professional learning network? And how can we make the most of these networks to actually learn in deep and profound ways?
These are questions that I have been grappling with, particularly since the way that many educators (myself included) have been engaging with our networks lately. From my perspective, it has shifted quite a bit, and not always for the better.
Like many districts across the nation, Rhode Island’s Bristol Warren Regional School District (BWRSD) has a firm understanding of best practice and current research. However, the difficulty in scaling any innovation is converting the theory into action. To overcome this, BWRSD has adopted the Future Ready Schools® (FRS) framework, a systematic approach to scaling innovative digital learning practices while promoting long-term sustainability. This transition to digital learning affords BWRSD the opportunity to provide greater clarity and coherence regarding the district’s vision of teaching and learning. At BWRSD, we have used the opportunity to develop and communicate a new, shared vision of personalized instruction that fosters deeper learning for all students.
Last Spring, Media Smart Libraries and EdTechRI hosted a regional event in Barrington, RI called "Navigation our Digital Lives: In School and Beyond." This event was geared towards parents, educators & administrators to discuss topics such as student privacy, safety, & digital citizenship. It was an honor to join a panel of experts in this field, many of whom are leaders right here in Rhode Island.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend and present at yet another inspiring Innovation Powered by Technology Conference in Providence, RI. I was also fortunate to be joined by several teachers and administrators from my district (BWRSD) who presented and shared their stories with educators throughout the day.
Innovative edtech products are being developed at an increasingly rapid pace, making it more challenging than ever for educators to decide which to use in their classroom. As a former high school teacher who was eager to try anything that could improve student learning, I was at times overwhelmed by all of the new tools that claimed to transform teaching and learning as we know it. Now, as a school district’s Director of Educational Technology, it is not only my role to help us make district-level edtech decisions, but also to help educators make the day-to-day decisions regarding which instructional technologies will work best in their particular learning environments.