We have lots of choices in our lives that allow us to buy and consume exactly what we want. We can all be unique, just like everyone else. (At one point early in my administrative career that's how a MS principal defined what teenagers want to be.) But what does it mean to have Personalized Learning? In an EdWeek article they determine some characteristics of personalization, and its defined best by Susan D. Patrick of iNACOL;
Personalized learning in today's schools essentially amounts to the "differentiation" of lessons for students of different skill levels, or efforts to help students move at their own pace. . . and that personalized learning must also promote "student agency"—basically, giving students more power through either digital tools or other means, accounting for how they learn best, what motivates them, and their academic goals.With all the online resources available today, students have a myriad of learning resources to help them navigate their desired path. As NFV is preparing for a new school year,
one of our goals has always been to provide as diverse and personalized of a learning plan as we can for students.
However, with all those resources and opportunities comes the responsibility to make wise choices. Often, when High School students begin their registration processes for a new year they are frustrated that they can't do everything they want. Some of our students want to do all the activities that we offer and take 8 classes plus an online college class. Then they get frustrated with conflicts in their schedule. Thus comes one of the most important skills of their adult lives. Make a choice. Prioritize your NEEDS and WANTS in that order and decide which you can do and which you cannot. A sure road to failure is to try to do all things, instead of trying to do the right things and doing them well.
One of the places NFV does an excellent job of providing personalized learning is through the Capstone project. This senior year presentation is an open invitation to study a topic of your choice deeply. It encourages seniors to experience a potential career choice either directly or indirectly, so as to be better armed for your future. It also challenges them to find their voice. The presentation becomes the ability to hone communication skills in any they they see fit and to prove to themselves they can present a topic to a group of adults. More than just power point presentations, these speeches can be demonstrations of a skill or showing off your re-built 1939 John Deere.
"Student Agency" is sometimes considered Student Voice (Not "Pretend-Student Voice" ), both terms embody student empowerment, both to choose the way they want to learn and to have a say in how they learn. Thats part of the Capstone mission, giving student the chance to shine, to prepare for a difficult task and to succeed because they've had a choice in how they complete that task. I can't think of a better way to prepare them for their future.