4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

Educators are embracing digital tools for planning and sharing

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in VermontPersonalized learning plans, or PLPs, are non-traditional pathways by which students can navigate from entrance to graduation in a way that’s personally meaningful. By studying topics they’re passionate about, students continue to stay engaged; by collaborating on the plans with educators and family, students’ passions can be translated into real-world learning that oftentimes exceeds standards for learning.

But where do digital tools fit into this conversation?

With all schools in Vermont being required to begin implementing PLPs for grades 7-9 by 2015,  let’s take a look at 4 ways personalized learning plans are already taking off in Vermont.

1. The VT Agency of Education’s PLP online toolbox

4 ways personalized learning is taking off in VermontUnder a mandate from the Vermont legislature, the Vermont Agency of Education has spent the past year working on implementation recommendations so that all schools can provide students with PLPs. The Agency of Education’s workgroup consisted of education leaders from around the state, including Tarrant Institute director Penny Bishop. Educators, students and parents can all find clear and customized resources and online in the Agency of Education’s digital toolbox for PLPs.

Among the resources is a self-assessment questionnaire for schools to use prior to committing to a PLP implementation, a sample PLP template and a timeline of expectations for implementation (pdf0.

2. e-portfolios: Evernote, Google Sites, Hapara and more!

As students follow PLPs, the need for e-portfolios, digital records of the learning they’ve accomplished, are attaining an increasing importance. Last year, educators from Harwood Union Middle School presented at Etti iPad Boston on their school-wide implementation of Evernote for e-portfolios.

And earlier this week, Tarrant Institute professional development coordinator Susan Hennessey had a chance to do a Google Hangout on PLPs and differentiation with a class of pre-service educators at Castleton State College. She took them on a tour of Schoology and Hapara’s Teacher Dashboard, while explaining the pedagogy behind support for personalized learning plans.

Additionally, many new digital tools provide ways for educators to differentiate instruction for learners within the tool itself. Check out how this can be done with EdPuzzle and Subtext + Newsela.

3. VT schools are reflecting online about their PLP implementations

Harwood Union Middle School principal Amy Rex has written about how her school is implementing PLPs as part of the school’s proficiency-based graduation guidelines, and with a very welcome emphasis on the role of families and communities in the PLP process:

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

Harwood Union Middle School has visualized students’ personalized learning with The Harwood Graduate tree. Read principal Amy Rex’ blog post for the full story.

A tree can not stand alone; it needs the forest – a community that reflects sharing and mutual concern among members, protection, guidance and room to grow. Additionally the sun, rain and soil work in unison to feed the tree. Beyond a culture that embraces the idea of personalized learning, these are the forces – that when leveraged, bring the idea to fruition.

Similarly, Team Summit at Main Street Middle School in Montpelier has shared Printing, Posting, Publishing and Personal Learning Plans, in which they weigh the value of adopting a traditional model of publishing to the PLP process:

As students continue working on their Personalized Learning Plans and integrate art, video, informational graphics, and writing onto the websites, it is apparent that the “publishing” model may very well be an appropriate one to utilize when targeting the skills most needed for student success.

Students from Team Summit presented on PLPs this past summer to Vermont educators gathered for the Middle Grades Institute at UVM.

4. VT educators are gathering online to compare notes

The newly revived twice-monthly #VTed twitter chat is a great place to hang out on a Wednesday night, from home, in your pj’s, talking to your PLN. Some of the most active educators in the state show up and share what they’re working on and how they’re doing it. The most recent twitter chat focused on the statewide PLP initiative, and school leaders who had already begun implementations led the conversation for those who were still in the planning phase.

But by the end of the night, everyone agreed on the value of having the twitter chat forum for such information-sharing and brainstorming.

4 ways personalized learning plans are taking off in Vermont

How is your school preparing for PLPs?

 

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Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and host of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time develops video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs. Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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