Today’s Contributor: Jessica Boone
I am Jessica Boone and I teach 5th Grade ELA and Social Studies at Kiker Elementary. This is my 7th year teaching and I love incorporating new technology and methods in my classroom!
Any teacher will tell you that their classes are typically filled with a group of students that all have very different needs and are all starting at different levels. Some students are able to master content faster than others leaving that ever so popular question of “what do I do now?”. Instead of making those students wait for the rest of their classmates to finish by completing filler assignments or reading silently a self-paced Personal Learning Path allows for that type of differentiation. Teachers also know that when students are given choices, their engagement and effort increases in the work they are completing. How does a Personal Learning Path work? A Personal Learning Path allows students to choose when they will work on certain assignments and the time they need to complete those assignments. All of the assignments need to be completed by the end of the week but the path in which each student takes to get there may look different.
After learning about Personal Learning Paths, I knew instantly this was a great way to accommodate the students in my classes and change the way my class functions as well as to continue utilizing the technology we have available. The way in which I teach, and the type of activities I facilitate have not changed but now students have a lot more say in their role as a learner.
Students receive their Personal Learning Path on Monday. Whole group lessons still happen, however, once we move to either partner or independent time students begin working on their learning path. The assignments are made up of independent, partner or teacher table work. The students access directions or links to their assignments via Blend Modules or Assignments. They are able to engage in digital discussions via blend or even a video response using Flipgrid the same as they always have but when they complete it, depends upon themselves. There is also some choice in how they will complete an assignment. Whether some be typed on a google doc, or handwritten. Another aspect of the Personal Learning Path that has proven to be beneficial to these students, who we are prepping for middle school, is the time management piece. Students need to map out when they will get things done and keep track of how long they are working on assignments. At first, some students really struggled with managing their time and by the second week, those students began to self-monitor and pace out when they would complete the assignments. For example, some students were labeling their assignments with letters that correlated with days of the week. This allowed them to reflect every day about if they were falling behind or not. My students who typically grasp concepts quickly and move through assignments at a faster pace love this model because once they complete their entire learning path they are able to work on a self-chosen genius hour project. While there are still a few kinks that get worked out with each new week this has really been a positive change in my classroom.