Category Archives: personalised learning

Genius Hour and 20% Time

Student creativity and inquiry through exploration of their passions.

The search-engine giant, Google, allows it’s engineers to spend 20% of their time to work on any pet project that they want.  The idea is very simple: allow people to work on something that interests them, and productivity will go up.  This way of working has inspired innovative ideas in a range of companies that have lead to significant improvements to the way we live and work.  Sticky notes from 3M are one, the Google DriverLess Car another.

How would Genius Hour / 20% Time work in a school environment?

Student project ideas need to reflect their own interests or passions. These project ideas need to be realistic, but not necessarily achievable. Students can experience failure, in a supportive environment. And when they have experienced that failure, they are able to use reflection to plan for improvement.

Getting Started

  • Brainstorming a list of things that students are good at, excited about, or want more information on.
  • Driving Question: a question that enables deep thought, research.  An UnGoogleAble answer.  A question that takes time to answer.
  • Independent work: The role of the teacher is not to guide the student work, but to support the choices they make and enable the opportunities.  Initially students work individually, as they become more competent, collaborative projects can be introduced.
  • Incorporate expertise: you’re not going to know enough about everything to help your students, this is where an outside expert comes in.  Support students in making connections.
  • Authentic Audience: students need to present their work to an authentic audience.  How they do this is up to the individual, with teacher support to realise the opportunities.

 Teacher role

As the teacher in a Genius Hour environment, rethink your role to become facilitator. Provide the advice, support needed to have students develop their own thoughts and ideas into a viable project.

Allow students to make some mistakes.

Know what your students are working on, know their plan, know their intentions.  Facilitate their progress.

Student Role

Students use a range of 21st Century skills to create their Genius Hour project.  Using their passions as an initial guide, they become experts in something and produce new knowledge to share with their audience.  They don’t have to get it right the first time.  They wont complete it in a week or two, it takes time and deep learning to achieve.  Students provide the ideas and the resources.

The UnGoogleAble

The most important thing to is innovate.  Innovation on a grand scale, or innovation on a small scale.  An UnGoogleAble question is one that hasn’t been answered anywhere, every.  It’s a big thing to come up with the UnGoogleAble, and an even bigger thing to answer it successfully.


Links and Resources

http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=829279

http://www.geniushour.com/

http://www.20timeineducation.com/

 

Personalisation of Spelling

Developing a personalised learning program for Spelling requires preparation and resourcing as any personalised learning program does.  Selecting types of assessment and locating and collating resources that are meaningful and useful will help to create a solid foundation for students to work from.  The following paragraphs present a model that is used in classrooms that can be adapted and modified for use in your own context.

 

Assessment for Learning

Students need to know where their level of achievement is against expected standards, and what they have to be able to do to progress onto the next level.  Assessments should be aligned with the outcomes for your educational context so students are easily able to identify the path for progression.  Sometimes the teacher language in curriculum documents may need to be simplified to make it more accessible to students.

After completing assessment tasks, students need ready access to their data, as they become self trackers and self managers. 

In the school that I work in I have used On Demand Testing (ODT), Gap Testing and Online Assessment and Reporting System Progressive Achievement Tests (OARS PAT) with students.  Both ODT and OARS are online systems, while Gap is paper based.

 

Self Tracking

Students analyse the results of their assessment and identify areas of strength and weakness from their results.  Often the students can identify patterns in their results, which help them to determine which areas they need to work on more.  Students compare their results against the expected levels of achievement.  Initially students may want to keep their results private, but as they begin working closely with other students with similar needs, they become more confident and competitive within their ability cohort.

 

Goal Setting

Students take responsibility for their learning through the management and tracking of their data and by setting goals for their learning.  They follow the SAT framework, (Specific, Attainable, Timely) which is modified and simplified from the SMART goal setting framework.  These goals are set weekly at the beginning of the week, and can last for a single week or may be recycled or rolled over into the following week if the student reflects that they need to continue working.

 

Resources and Activities

An important part of the teacher’s responsibility is to provide appropriate resources for the students that provide a level of challenge and are matched to the students needs.  The resources selected should be suitable for the context and match their learning styles of the students.  For the most part these activities are completed independently with minimal supervision.  These activities are done at the beginning of a writing session so generally they need to be short activities to allow quick completion.  The teacher will have small groups created that have similar goals or spelling patterns/rules that are being worked on.  The relevant information should be recorded by the teacher during goal setting time to allow them time to analyse the goals and create groups.  Examining the abilities of students within the groups also provides the teacher an indication of the types of activities needed for the groups to work on.  Each day the teacher should work with a small group for a period of time to monitor and assess their progress on the tasks, work with them on explicit teaching activities.

 

Reflection

At the conclusion of the week students should complete a short assessment task, either a buddy test of their spelling words with a partner, or a test of words that are similar to their own words.  After the assessment task is completed students should record their progress and reflect on their learning for spelling for the week.  The format for the reflection should be flexible but recorded in some way.

They should include in their reflection a description of what they did for the week, how they felt about their work and the learning that occurred or did not occur, how the learning will help them or could have helped them, what else they could have done (if anything), and a further plan of action.

Methods of Personalisation

In my current practice, I have come across many different perspectives of what personalised learning is, and the different ways it can be implemented according to your context.
Earlier this year I heard from Dan Buckley from Cambridge Education (http://www.camb-ed.net/pbyp/) and their method of personalisation. In formalising the approach at my school we borrowed a few key ideas, namely Personalisation by the Learner (PbL) and Personalisation for the Learner (PfL). This has helped us to distinguish between the different practices and identify them more clearly.
With PfL we use student achievement data from a range of sources to help us create ability based maths and writing convention groups.
PbL is used in spelling, interest based writing and inquiry for humanities and science. This has helped to boost engagement and connectedness for the students. When our students are happy and enjoying their work, the teaching team feel similarly enthused and motivated.

Context specific

Personalised Learning can manifest itself in many different forms.  The way it manifests is entirely dependent on the requirements of the context and by which level the context is student centric.

In a teacher centric context, personalisation is difficult to realise, as the teacher is not willing to give away the control of the learning process to the students.

In a student centric context, the students are able to determine the learning path that they follow, and is supported by the students knowledge of their own achievement and future requirements for learning.

Personalised Learning Network

personalised learningSo one of the tasks I have for the Masters in School Leadership (MSL) this semester is to initiate a network of colleagues around my Action Research Project.  The research question is currently defined as “Does personalised learning have a positive effect on student learning outcomes?”  I have toyed with various ideas for the creation of my network, and I am currently leaning towards an online presence for the network.  As personalised learning and 21st Century Learning are so complementary, it makes sense to me to develop it this way.

Could I use Twitter?  Quite easily.  It’s asynchronous.  The communication happens instantly.  The network can grow exponentially, all it takes is a hash tag.  And a twitter account.  The network is limited to local colleagues, it can draw upon the expertise, knowledge and skills of educators at all levels from across the globe.

Blog based?  Users can contribute to a blog post, leave comments etc.  Resources can be shared.  Ideas and words remain available for a longer period of time.  Members don’t need to be registered with twitter.  However, it’s harder to get the word out for people.

Perhaps a combination of the two?

Some other technologies that could be incorporated: Elluminate for real time video conferencing.  Google Docs.

I shall think further on the implications for the network and come to a decision soon.