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Posted by on in General

Mastery learning doesn’t have to be scary.

A lot of times when I talk about Mastery Learning with teachers, I can see them slowly start back away and sometimes even getting noticeably scared. I’ll be honest, it can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Giving up control, managing a self-paced classroom, and transitioning to Mastery Learning can be done if you take it one step at a time.

Let’s look at 3 small steps you can take to help create a Mastery Learning classroom for yourself.

Plan For the Content NOT the Calendar

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Posted by on in General

Personalized learning and differentiated learning are big buzzwords in education right now. 

Did you think they were the same thing?

As more catch phrases, tag lines, and buzzwords get added to the educational world, it's getting more and more difficult to determine what it all means, and more importantly, how it all applies to our classrooms. Two phrases I've been hearing a lot lately and very often interchangeably are differentiated learning and personalized learning. While based on the same basic principals of providing students with what they need, there are some important differences that should be noted. 

What They Focus On

Personalized Learning starts with a single learner and connects with their interests, passions, and aspirations. The learner becomes an active participant in the design of their experience and have choices in how they will experience it. This focuses on the creation and development of independent learners who reflect, monitor and set goals.

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Posted by on in General

Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can feel like new initiatives that are just “one more thing.”

When it comes down to it, though, many initiatives fit together nicely, and can help support one another. Through working with schools, districts, and teachers I’ve found that when we look at new ideas as something extra (as opposed to something that can help enrich, or enhance the already great work we are doing) it can hurt our view of whatever that initiative is.

Two very common initiatives I hear a lot about are Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). (If you need to brush up on either, here are two articles for you: Personalized Learning + UDL). Many times these are discussed as completely separate, but when we look at how they can support each other, they become even more useful to us as teachers.

Here are some things Personalized Learning and UDL have in common and how they lend themselves to supporting one another.

STUDENT CHOICE

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Posted by on in General

Competency Based Learning (CBL) is gaining popularity and has been growing as more schools, districts, and educational systems realize the many benefits it offers.

Called by many names and crossing over many initiatives, including: Mastery Learning, Personalized learning, Formative Assessment, and Differentiation, competency based learning can truly help educators meet the needs of all students. This also begs that we understand what it is, and more importantly, what it isn't. 

What is Competency Based Learning?

The US. Dept. of Education defines Competency Based Learning as: "Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning (ed.gov)."

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Posted by on in General

As you read this you probably have a lot of ideas floating through your head about the amazing learning activities you’re going to experience with your students. Whether it is an idea you read about in an article, something a colleague of yours has tried, or an awesome PD session you’ve attended, it’s time to put those concepts into action! Regardless of how far into, or away from, the start of the year you are, I’d like to share 7 simple ways that you can start increasing student success in your classroom today! 

1. Set Systems and Routines:

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here ,or echo the wisdom of Wong and Wong, but the key to any successful instructional environment is systems and routines. Students will do better in an environment that is safe, predictable, and positive in nature. I would also argue, based on experience and observations, that it is a foundation of systems and routines that can allow for greater student freedom in the classroom. By providing this type of environment you will allow your students to thrive! 

2. Let Students Set The Pace:

If you did an evaluation of the most common reasons why management issues occur, or what causes student frustration to increase, or if you reviewed the most common interventions for special needs students, pace would be at the core of it all.

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