Some might argue that some are tools while others are environments. Other people might say that some could put more responsibility on the learner while others place more on the teacher. For this piece, I am going to look at this through the lens of an elementary school teacher.
At the elementary level, an ideal way to personalize learning using one of the above topics would be to implement Project-Based Learning (PBL) into your curriculum. Here is why.
The most authentic PBL is not about content consumption. At its core, it is about the process and not the product. It is our duty as elementary educators to teach children how they all learn. There is nothing more personal in this entire world than the act of learning. So, to be a teacher who truly personalizes learning, you must commit to facilitating a child’s journey to discover how he or she learns.
The structure of PBL allows us to do this alongside children. Formulate questions, culminate ideas, revise and critique concepts and processes, present findings, reflect on it all and then start all over again. This is the cycle of learning. If teachers can focus on making this the breath of the elementary experience, then when our students grow into their secondary education imagine the skill set that they would bring with them to tackle more complex and abstract concepts.
In Reggio Emilia, they begin this process early with the child. In preschool they allow projects to emerge from the children’s interests and the teacher becomes the invisible hand that guides throughout the process. In their 1995 book Le fontane: From a project for the construction of an amusement park for birds, Malaguzzi and Piazza explain the role of the teacher in the Project-Based process eloquently stating, “The teacher’s task is to be a mediator, offering carefully measured and pertinent loans of knowledge and skills, periodically producing summaries of the children’s convergent and divergent elements and the points of arrival of their work, to highlight the emerging meanings, and to solicit the participation of each and every child increasingly cooperative and productive interaction” (20).
The paradigm of Project-Based Learning is co-construction, and co-construction is Personalized Learning. Well, at least it seems that way from where this blind man is standing.