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Aurora Institute

Three Quick Thoughts About Personalized Learning Plans

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Rethink Instruction


Vermont Department of Education

Over the past few days I’ve received links to several resources on personalized learning plans including:

And it got me thinking about personalized learning plans…

    1. Different Ways to Personalize: The personalization of learning is a necessary ingredient if we are going to get all students to proficiency each step of the way in their learning progressions. However, there are many different ways to personalize learning, and each has a cost. Not every school is going to personalize in every way … at least in the short-run. Schools may focus more on providing students with the ability to choose how they learn and how they demonstrate learning, or they may focus on investing in expanded learning opportunities such as internships, real-world projects, and opportunities to develop students’ talents in music or sport. Perhaps it will be through a wide range of courses or opportunities to create projects. Blended learning is an important ingredient as it enables personalization in terms of pacing as well as structuring choice. And sometimes personalization isn’t about choice – it’s about having knowledgeable educators providing the right type of instruction, feedback, and interventions to help struggling students succeed.
    2. Designed for Gaps and Diversity: My 13-year old nephew asked me last weekend why all the teachers at his school are white, reminding me how important racial, ethnic, and gender identity are as students develop a sense of what is possible for their lives. I’m still looking to find personalized learning plans that are designed to expand horizons, that challenge racial and gender stereotypes, and that recognize that students from concentrated areas of poverty or from rural areas might not know what they want to do after high school because they just don’t know what might be out there for them. I’m looking for resources that recognize that some students have gaps or challenges that need to be discussed in order to help them be successful. It’s important that learning plans trigger conversations that help schools know what is needed to better support students so they can organize resources, build appropriate partnerships, and develop new capacity.
    3. Embedded and Still Explicit: Increasingly we are going to see personalized learning plans embedded in information management systems such as Buzz and Educate that monitor student progress. However, the most important part of a learning plan is the ongoing conversation it triggers between students and teachers. We need to make sure that a learning plan is an explicit and ongoing process as students develop and teachers change.

All of this makes me realize that the plan is just the mechanism to open the door to conversations and capacity building.

Please send us any resources about personal learning plans that can be helpful to others or perhaps you might want to write about how you use them in your school?