Personalized, proficiency-based PBL or bust
During a faculty meeting in late December of 2016, educators and staff talked about the need to provide personalized learning options for students at their small, rural Vermont school. They wanted do so in a way that honored the students’ need for passion-based, independent projects, as well as the desire of the faculty and staff to provide structured supports.
But what could that look like in action?
Every May for the past 10 years, Lamoille Union Middle School’s Team Extreme launches an integrated unit. This year found them shifting and building upon past successes to include the goal of giving students access to their growth and skills progression in a brand new way.
It takes a combination of flexible pathways and student passion.
Peoples Academy Middle Level 6th graders Noble Beerworth, Josephine Simone, Anna Isselhardt, and Jacob Fougere won big at this year’s VT Tech’s Bridge Building competition. They built a bridge that withstood 1,089 pounds of pressure, but the story of how their school helped them get there is equally impressive.
“Every student gets greeted at the start of every day.”
At Peoples Academy Middle Level, educators have taken the role of teacher advisory, or TA, to a whole new level. They conduct their advisory to build personal connections with their students. As a result, at PAML, advisory has become a very special thing.
But how can you build personal connections in advisory? Let’s find out.
Deliver the goods!
Rather than creating a unit on the Civil War, imagine working with an individual student or small group on a topic that fully engages them, but might be something you know little about. First we looked at how to find resources in multiple formats, to meet students’ different learning needs and preferences.
Now, how do we deliver those materials in a way that responds to students’ needs and also gives them some choice in how, when, and where they learn?
Building a differentiation & personalization toolkit
I was privileged recently to work with a number of pre-service teachers here at the University of Vermont. All were eager to gain access to tools and resources to help them respond to the variety of learners’ needs they will face in classrooms.
Using the Civil War as our (broad) topic, we developed a workflow for creating a tech-rich social studies unit responsive to different learners’ needs. And using ourselves as learners, we tested out our methods.
Peers partner on portfolios
Students at two Vermont schools have begun working together as “Portfolio Partners” to curate evidence, reflect on their growth, and prepare to share their learning with a wider audience.
Here’s how it works.
3 examples using blended learning
Let’s explore how some Vermont teachers are shifting their instruction and assessment practices to move all students toward proficiency. Three different educators have changed the way they assess proficiency in their classrooms. Each has created a way for students to have control over the pacing of instruction and have included students in monitoring progress and growth, using a blended learning environment.
Outcomes, process and automaticity
I worked with a group of teachers this summer to re-think goal-setting with their students. We know it’s a key component to developing Personalized Learning Plans (PLP), but students reported little engagement in following through on and reflecting about their goals.
In our attempts to think differently about goal-setting and reflection, we decided to approach goal-setting as a visualization exercise. Each of us set a learning goal for ourselves and experimented with visualizing the end result of those goals.
So how can this work for students?
Two examples of implementing proficiency-based scales of learning
Vermont educators and their students are on a journey. Let’s look at how one school is implementing proficiency-based learning in a way that ensures all learners have the opportunity to thrive.
When we clearly articulate learning targets both for and with learners, the end is clear to all and learning can proceed along a progression with multiple opportunities for demonstrating growth and mastery.