Sunday, July 31, 2022

Learner Paths are Rarely the Same

At times I find myself claiming that I am a visual learner. Hence, I try to have an original image to go along with most blog posts I write. While text adds needed details and depth, the accompanying visuals provide more context. They also do a great job capturing the attention of prospective readers. I am not alone in my affinity for pictures. Researchers at MIT found that the brain can process images as quickly as 13 milliseconds. Now that is fast! 

While my preference as a learner might be through visuals, I know there are other pathways as well. Herein lies the foundational tenant of personalized learning, something I shared in Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms

Personalization is ALL kids getting what they need when and where they need it to learn.

I have written extensively on the many ways to personalize learning, but like most things, there are always different lenses and strategies that can be used. During my coaching work with educators, I always try to make the concept as simple as possible by showing the unique pathways to help kids learn. Enter the Relevant Thinking Framework. The premise is as simple as it is powerful. Learning occurs when students are challenged to think and apply their thinking in relevant ways.  

This framework is a tool to examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment along the two dimensions of increasing cognition and student outcomes. It can be used in the development of personalized pedagogical techniques in alignment with virtually any strategy. In addition, teachers can use it to monitor their own progress in adding higher-level thinking and relevance while selecting appropriate strategies for differentiation and facilitation of learning goals. In a previous post, I discussed getting kids into the learning pit, which moves them naturally through the various quad but in no specific order. The movement is dictated by where they currently are and how they eventually get to where they need to be, a hallmark of personalization. 

The journey to quad D is never linear. It will also look different for every learner, so don’t get fixated on where I put the dots on the image above. Another critical aspect is that you don’t need technology to personalize. Authenticity, deeper meaning, academy programs, and different ways to show learning are just as powerful in providing kids with what they need to succeed. As students work to answer scaffolded questions while grappling with solving real-world problems, their process will look different. Hence, there will be many learning paths towards and eventually into Quad D. 

Learning is a personal process, not an event.  

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