For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2018/09/05/no-teachers-shouldnt-put-students-in-the.html

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.

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A Vision for Personalized Learning in Massachusetts

DeMonte, Jennifer

CA/ET

French, D. & Lebeaux, D. (2017). A vision for personalized learning in Massachusetts (White Paper). Retrieved from Center for Collaborative Education website: http://cce.org/files/A-Vision-for-Personalized-Learning-in-Massachusetts.pdf

The white paper discusses trends in Massachusetts that suggest a growing achievement gap. Where the state has usually been at the forefront of education, this has become a concern. It describes a movement toward Personalized Learning based on competencies rather than standards, and authentic learning experiences that are student-driven and flexible.

Much of the first half of the paper is skimmable. What I found most interesting were the principles of Personalized Learning enumerated in the paper, and Massachusetts plan to support districts in the move toward this practice. The description of a school that functions according to these principles is almost utopian in nature.

 

Making personalized learning projects possible

Sasaki, Lori

ID

Schwartz, K. (2017, December 4). Tips and Tricks to keep kids on track during genius hour projects. KQED Mindshift. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2017/12/04/tips-and-tricks-to-keep-kids-on-track-during-genius-hour-projects/?utm_medium=Email&utm_source=ExactTarget&utm_campaign=20171210Mindshift&mc_key=00Qi000001WzPsREAV

This article outlines one teacher’s advice and experience around Genius Hour, or “20 percent time projects.” The teacher shares anecdotes and examples (including a student video) of the challenges and successes in implementing this kind of student-centered learning.

There is not a comprehensive explanation of the entire project, however the article touches upon various important stages, such as defining the problem, staying organized, and assessment. The tangible tools and tips (with lots of links to resources) for managing personalized learning projects helped to make this kind of learning process seem both inspiring and realistically do-able.

Histories of Personalized Learning

Michele Peabody
ET

Watters, A. (2017). The histories of personalized learning, Hackereducation OEB Mid Summit conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. Retrieved 6/2017 from
The author, “I am an education writer, an independent scholar, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech’s Cassandra” argues that personalized learning has been around for at least a decade, and depending on your agenda, we define it the way we want to. Industries and tech companies agenda is the “personalized computer” and are succeeding in having education follow their lead.