Thank you for returning to this second installment of our deep dive into using the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) to better understand how to personalize learning in the classroom. My goal is to further examine the differences between Level III and Level IV throughout the TKES rubric. I hope to inspire teachers to identify key components of a classroom that is student-focused and personalized in its nature. |

In my last post, we examined two elements that contribute to a teacher’s planning of a personalized learning environment. The first was planning for space so that we might provide timely feedback on students’ implementation of skills and strategies. The second aspect of personalized instructional planning was the implementation of real world resources that provide students with authentic environments to apply their learning.

Since planning for personalization is still fresh in our mind, let us continue to dive deeper into a personalized environment where different instructional strategies are used to transfer ownership of the learning process to the students in our classrooms.

Since planning for personalization is still fresh in our mind, let us continue to dive deeper into a personalized environment where different instructional strategies are used to transfer ownership of the learning process to the students in our classrooms.

## Performance Standard 3: Instructional Strategies

*The teacher promotes student learning by using research-based instructional strategies relevant to the content to engage students in active learning and to facilitate the students’ acquisition of key knowledge and skills.*

The most important task of a teacher while personalizing learning is to implement strategies that in time will empower a student to see themselves as a confident and competent learner. When we examine the language of a Level III classroom, we often see a teacher who is using research-based strategies to create an environment where students are actively engaged while acquiring key skills. These are often lively classrooms, but they continue to share the same thread of a teacher at the center owning step after step of the learning process.

Level IV, however, has the teacher shifting the majority of their instruction towards how the student thinks about acquiring these key skills. It is this process that reimagines instructional strategies where students are actively engaging with content delivered by the teacher, to ones where students are evaluating and crafting how they learn the content in ways that are personal to them.

Level IV, however, has the teacher shifting the majority of their instruction towards how the student thinks about acquiring these key skills. It is this process that reimagines instructional strategies where students are actively engaging with content delivered by the teacher, to ones where students are evaluating and crafting how they learn the content in ways that are personal to them.

## Metacognitive Learning

*“I can engage students in metacognitive learning by ______________________ so they can evaluate and choose the strategies that make them most successful when tackling challenging learning tasks.”*

Metacognition is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes. These thought processes are often referred to as strategies. A teacher’s initial role in a personalized learning environment is to model a variety of strategies that a student could use to learn content standards. Then, through a process of gradual release, students might begin to curate and adjust the strategies that they feel most comfortable using. These strategies over time become habits and allow the learner to apply them confidently at various times in the future.

One obstacle that we face when personalizing learning is making metacognition visible so that we might facilitate our student’s growth in this process. One of my favorite resources for overcoming this is drawn from a book by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda titled Students at the Center. Their initial “metacognitive staircase” (100) maps out how students can enhance their ability to understand their thought process. In the diagram below, I added sentence frames to their progression for students to use when talking about which learning strategies they might choose when tackling challenging learning tasks.

One obstacle that we face when personalizing learning is making metacognition visible so that we might facilitate our student’s growth in this process. One of my favorite resources for overcoming this is drawn from a book by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda titled Students at the Center. Their initial “metacognitive staircase” (100) maps out how students can enhance their ability to understand their thought process. In the diagram below, I added sentence frames to their progression for students to use when talking about which learning strategies they might choose when tackling challenging learning tasks.

## Higher-Order Thinking

*“I can engage students in using higher-order thinking skills by ______________________ so they can engage in tasks that will strengthen their capacity as a learner.”*

Another important task for personalizing learning is the act of engaging students in contexts that require them to use higher-order thinking skills. In the past, I was often confused about this process because I operated under the misconception that this thinking was limited to my more advanced learners. Once I began modeling different instructional strategies that could facilitate all of my students access to these skills, then I began to understand how allowing students to pick and choose those different strategies would allow them to participate in this type of thinking in a way that became personal to them. Some of the examples for what I wanted to see in my classroom can be seen below.

Now we begin to witness this beautiful symphony that is all of the elements of personalized learning working together. Engaging students in higher-order thinking tasks becomes essential to the personalized learning process. Students must have moments where thinking involves multiple steps that draw on different contexts at varying levels of difficulty. Then, with the time that we built into our instructional plans, we can meet with students analyze the strategies that they used and the effectiveness of those strategies for that task (metacognitive learning). These types of instructional strategies continue to build the capacity of the learner so that they can master increasingly difficult content and skill sets.

## Application of Learning in Current and Relevant Ways

*“I can engage students in current and relevant learning by ______________________ so they can see their learning strategies as having value outside of school as well.”*

The last instructional strategy listed in the Level IV column is “the application of learning in current and relevant ways.” This strategy goes hand-in-hand with one of the key components for planning for personalized learning which is “seeking and using real world resources.” When we meld higher-order thinking skills with real world resources, we can see relevant learning in its purest form. This is the ultimate goal for personalized learning because relevance resides at the heart of all engagement. When students see their work as being relevant, then they will willfully implement their instructional strategies that they have internalized with relentless enthusiasm.

## An Interpretation

Once again thank you so much for reading this series. This is my own interpretation of how the difference between Level III and Level IV in the TKES rubric can be seen as a roadmap towards more effectively personalizing the learning in your classroom. Is it the definition or only way to view personalization of learning? I hope not. That has to come from your work in dissecting the rubric.

I learn best by talking, and this blog is my attempt to talk out loud with the hopes that someone somewhere is listening. If you gain nothing more than the curiosity to revisit the TKES rubric to reflect on your own teaching practice then I feel that my time (and hopefully yours) was not wasted. Thank you again for all you do for our children. I appreciate each and every one of you.

I learn best by talking, and this blog is my attempt to talk out loud with the hopes that someone somewhere is listening. If you gain nothing more than the curiosity to revisit the TKES rubric to reflect on your own teaching practice then I feel that my time (and hopefully yours) was not wasted. Thank you again for all you do for our children. I appreciate each and every one of you.