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Aurora Institute

Learner-Centered Tip of the Week: Refurbishing for Personalized Learning

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Courtney Belolan

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction

BinderThis post originally appeared on Courtney Belolan’s website on May 12, 2016. Belolan is the instructional coach for RSU2 in Maine.

Stop! You, yes you. The one perusing Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for the perfect already-made-resource you can print off and use with your students.

And you! The one flipping through your binders, hanging-files, or digital folders for lesson plans and resources to use again.

You too! Surfing PBS, The History Channel, and other providers of ready-made curricula and lessons.

Stop. And think…

Will using this resource or material support the goals of learner-centered proficiency based practice?

The answer may not be entirely clear at first. The reality is that most of the pre-made materials are not. There are, however, ways to use these resources and refurbish them for personalized learning.

I recently facilitated a session with some teachers around using non-Calkins resources within the context of writing workshop. To start the hour off, we played a “yes-no game” based on a concept attainment activity. The gist is that we sorted examples into positive and negative groups, then determined the categories and gave them titles. This chart shows the results of our game:

Click Image to Enlarge

The point is that when we embark on transforming our classes and schools into personalized learning environments, very few resources will ever be plug and play! We will always have to do some amount of refurbishing. No matter if the materials and resources are newly found or favorite oldies, we usually need to tweak them to support learner-centered proficiency-based practices. Here are some questions to help you do just that (I’m also working on a flow chart).

  1. What is it the students are supposed to learn from this resource?
  2. Is this something that all of my students need, or just a few?
  3. How can I use this resource to model or demonstrate something?
  4. Does the language or terms match up with the common language we already use in our class and school?
  5. Can I teach students how to make a resource like this on their own (great question for graphic organizers)?
  6. How might I support students in trying and reflecting on the tool itself, or the strategy learned from this resource?

See also:

Courtney Belolan works at RSU 2 in Maine where she supports K-12 teachers with performance-based, individualized learning. Courtney works closely with teams and teachers as a coach, and with the school and district leadership teams as an instructional strategist. Courtney has worked as a 6-12 literacy and instructional coach, a middle level ELA teacher, an environmental educator, and a digital literacy coach. Her core beliefs include the idea that the best education is one centered on student passions and rooted in interdisciplinary applications, and that enjoying learning is just as important as the learning itself.