Sunday, August 7, 2022

Identifying the Best Supports for Personalization

We know for a fact that everyone learns differently. While a one-size-fits-all approach served its purpose for some of us, it doesn’t meet the diverse needs of kids today. It also doesn’t provide teachers and administrators with valuable insight on how to best support learners no matter where they are in relation to standards and critical competencies. Thus, educators need not only a vision for how to personalize learning effectively but also essential supports that will help to ensure success.  


The most crucial aspect when it comes to personalizing learning is the teacher in the classroom. While mindset and relationship building work to form the foundation for a more personal approach, leveraging sound pedagogical practice to assist all students in getting what they need when and where they need it ensures equity in the classroom. In chapter 5 of Disruptive Thinking in Our Classrooms, I dive deeply into these practices while providing numerous examples. You can read a summary of the most used strategies with a high degree of fidelity HERE


Personalized pedagogy sets the stage for the purposeful use of technology to better assist in meeting students' learning needs while providing educators with timely data. While there are many K-8 tools on the market, many have shortcomings such as no research base, difficulty in pulling useable data, no clear alignment to standardized tests, and students finding the tasks to be boring. Naturally, this can be quite frustrating when large sums of money are spent on purchasing these programs. Don’t fret, though, as a fantastic support option is available to districts and schools in the form of Waggle

Waggle is a tool that K-8 educators can use to support the successful implementation of a more personalized approach.  Below are some specific highlights and features that set it apart from tools such as i-Ready and IXL. 


Differentiated Learning

A hallmark of personalization, Waggle provides:

  • Auto-assigned appropriate practice and instruction, or teachers can play an active role and assign additional content that supports their core instruction.
  • Teacher access to K-8 content. 
  • Adaptive functionality that analyzes beyond proficiency. Based on 13 data points, it continuously adjusts to offer true personalization, including behavior and prerequisite knowledge.
  • Instruction and practice on prerequisite skills within the grade level and from earlier grade levels.

Student Motivation through a Gaming Environment

Students can:

  • Learn in an immersive, game-based environment. 
  • Access a dashboard that allows them to track their own progress toward mastery of skills and learning.
  • Choose age-appropriate worlds to visit.
  • Personalize their avatar.

Research-Based

Waggle leverages research-based techniques to enhance students’ knowledge and accelerate learning. Waggle provides Retrieval, Interleaving and Spaced-Out Practice and Feedback, which yield long-term retention and optimal performance.

  • Retrieval is the act of recalling what has been learned and is essential for creating long-lasting memories. Retrieval best enhances retention when practiced early and often in a low-pressure context. 
  • Interleaving involves switching up the types of problems students solve when practicing. Changing the order or type of activity increases the effort and may create more cues for memory. Waggle Practice is comprised of multiple related skills. A student must have mastery of all these skills and be able to apply them simultaneously to be successful. 
  • Spaced Out Retrieval across multiple shorter sessions, days, or weeks is more effective than one long session for long-term retention because it requires more effortful processing. 

Hints & Feedback 

Feedback is information provided to learners about their current level of knowledge and what they can do to progress to the next level. It is an essential step in making formative assessment as meaningful as it does in Waggle. Feedback only works if it is received and acted on by the learner, so both the content and the delivery of feedback matter. Waggle has robust hints embedded in every practice assignment and immediate feedback for every learning activity. Waggle provides a safe, supportive environment through scaffolded hints, support for English learners, explanatory feedback, and optional instructional lessons. Mistakes are embraced as learning opportunities.

The premise of personalization is all learners getting what they need when and where they need it to learn. When utilizing a pedagogy first, technology second lens, Waggle can become your tool of choice to improve student outcomes aligned with job-embedded and ongoing professional learning facilitated by the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE). 

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