The creative side of my brain has absolutely loved the design opportunities that have come along with my new role as a personalized learning collaborator. It’s challenging, rewarding, and fun to essentially meet with teachers and ask, “Where do you see your classroom practices going next?” and then finding ways to bring those goals and dreams to fruition.
One such creative endeavor was so fun I wanted to share it here for anyone, like us at the time, who is interested in personalized practices (and choice) at the elementary level. This initiative began during a collaboration with Rockbrook educators Jan Kyle and Elizabeth Raphael, and I built this piece with the guidance and support of Oakdale educator Alli Pontious. Below are the personalization challenges we were looking to address when we started. We asked ourselves, how do we create something…
- Built to Be Self-Guided: Students in our elementary buildings have an hour of literacy time each day that is used for supporting students across a variety of learning levels, but realistically teachers can only focus on one of these groups at a time. So one goal for this piece was to design some self-guided instruction and self-paced assignments to support and challenge students when their teacher is meeting with another group.
- Built for Choice: Our personalization model is driven by student choice, so we hoped to build something that would give student choice across three fronts: choice in the topic of the content for each assignment, choice in the order of completing assignments, and also choice in the pace of instruction and assignment completion.
- With a Learner-Friendly Workflow: The above goals all sound great, but they pose a number of problems. Chiefly among those issues, how do you provide 25 options to second-graders without them getting overwhelmed or lost in the choices you provide? While Google Classroom could house all 25, learners at this level would likely struggle to effectively navigate that many options. At the time we felt we needed something more intuitive, user-friendly, and capable of relaying instructional video content directly on the assignment itself. Not to mention, we needed a simple way to share this out to our students.
Tech Disclaimer: Now, we are a 1:1 district whose elementary learners use Apple iPads, so as I was listening to these design goals and challenges, I kept thinking that I wanted there to be an app to make all these things happen. But unless I designed one, there was no program I knew of that could accomplish what we wanted to do.
Solution: I love designing PowerPoint slides. Yeah, nerdy I know. And in the past, I have leveraged hyperlinks in slide decks to mimic an app workflow. So I decided to merge that feature with the concept of a choice chart, which resulted in the presentation below. In that Google Slides presentation, I created a grid (indicators columns & topic rows: complete one in each column) where each choice is presented on an image that is easily identified/read (utilizes initials and colors). Those images are then hyperlinked to slides later in the presentation, and when those slides are being viewed on a touch-screen device, the result is an app-like workflow that primary students can navigate (I tried it with my first grader). Each slide gives simple instructions for that assignment, provides embedded or linked instructional video content when necessary, supports students with brainstorming suggestions specific to the topic they selected, and utilizes images as a simplified link to the Google Form assessments that are also topic specific. Three of the columns are self-grading, and if used over a duration of several class periods, students have the flexibility to select the order of assignments and (to some degree) the duration of time they choose to allocate to each.
So, enough talk about the idea. Take a few minutes to explore it yourself!
Click Here for the Google Slides App Deck for 2nd Grade Literacy Time.
-Andrew Easton, Westside Personalized Collaborator
firstname.lastname@example.org – @EastonA1