The Changing Classroom: Personalized Learning

The Angry Birds Effect: Millennials want differentiation and they want it now. Millennials and post-Millennials are being raised on games that are automatically differentiated to their skill level. They expect games to get harder as they get better, and they expect this differentiation to happen in the moment. Many tech companies jumped at the opportunity to apply this expectation to curriculum software. In classrooms across the country, students are learning Math and English from computer programs that automatically differentiate for their needs, and reinforce the specific tasks or concepts they’re struggling with. Plus, these programs provide teachers with a ton of data about their students’ strengths and needs.

Education is solved!

Juuuust kidding -- while these programs have the potential to move the needle on student learning, transitioning to these systems and navigating the sea of data pouring out of them can create extra work for teachers. Again, strong routines and effective use of classroom space are necessary to manage technology in the classroom. In addition to helping teacher improve routines and transitions, instructional leaders play a critical role in helping teachers apply the data coming out of student learning software. For example, during a “data deep dive,” a teacher may identify that 40% of his class is struggling with dividing fractions, while the other 60% are ready to move on to a more difficult standard. An instructional leader can support the teacher in restructuring upcoming lesson plans to divide the class into two cohorts focused on different standards, as well as spiral these concepts back in during lessons focused on other standards so students don’t lose ground.

At a more basic level, regular observation by instructional leaders can help identify infrastructure improvements that all teachers may need to effectively implement technology (stronger wifi, anyone?). For example, School A has a 1:1 iPad program. While iPads are great for personalized math learning, the lack of a keyboard can make it difficult to compose essays during ELA. A school leader observing this problem in the classroom could potentially requisition keyboards to make typing easier, which is a much more cost-effective option than laptops to replace the tablets.

We want to hear from you: How else can leaders support teachers in implementing personalized learning technology into their classroom to better differentiate instruction for students? Libby Fischer is CEO of Whetstone Education