Personalized Learning and Student Feedback

I am truly enjoying the personalized learning, flipped classroom. collaborative and sharing nature of my AP French classroom. They have shown significant progress in their learning and although they may not realize it, they have improved their communication a tonne! I am in week 5 of what I call the “shift” and a move toward less teacher directed activities and more student driven learning and the vast majority are loving it.

It is really interesting to see what students think about their own learning. In the anonymous Google Form reflection they were asked to express their thoughts about the new style of learning, the advantages and disadvantages of the learning and how they envisioned making it better. The results were quite interesting in that most of the students really enjoyed having choice – no surprise – however one student thought things were too vague and they wanted to be told what to do a little more. Another student wanted to have more evaluations of their learning – despite getting feedback on their oral and written communication, their application of learning and comprehension skills. One student thought it was a disadvantage that the class wasn’t learning about the exact same thing as they would in a science or math class I suppose.

Many of the advantages comments related to exploring things that they would never have explored otherwise, being able to choose and change topics depending on interests, working collaboratively in class – which is great because I do have a 7 francophones in the course – and  despite it being listed as a disadvantage comment, more complex research is something that will surely help them in their post-secondary pursuits.

Most the suggestions for improvement revolved around having more evaluations since they are working so diligently on their tasks, however that is a cultural shift that we’re still working on at my school.

I am still having a great time with personalized learning and I have never had students work so diligently in class. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days when I need to encourage unmotivated students but this is far less frequent. As we prepare for the March Break and 3 1/2 weeks without French, I sent them home with the book RU by Kim Thuy and I came across a nice resource that people can use as alternates to a book report. Students will be given a rubric and will have the choice of how they represent their learning within the essential questions.

I’ve always been open to student feedback and listening to what they need. I am so happy to hear that they are enjoying this new approach for the most part, and with consistent tweaking and adjustments to student needs it will only continue to improve. If anyone reading my blog is or knows someone doing something similar I would love to hear from you. Stay tuned for a recap of a project we just finished that really demonstrated the power of personalized learning.


4 Replies to “Personalized Learning and Student Feedback”

  1. Derek,

    I love that you are getting such positive feedback from your students, and I’m inspired by what you’ve put into action in your personalized classroom this year!
    It’s interesting to hear about the request for more evaluations from one of your students. There has been a lot of buzz at my school recently about the number of evaluations they have (that count) compared with nearby schools. I’ve had discussions with some of them about the theory that boys tend to be motivated more when they know that something “counts” for marks. I wonder if more frequent assessments for and as learning rather than of learning would be better received if this was a school-wide practice, or if students would still demand more evaluations for marks.

    In an upcoming unit, I’m going to be using google voice for students to practice their oral communication/pronunciation skills in conjunction with material they read, listen to and discuss in or outside of class. This will be for ongoing feedback, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond to these tasks when they have the flexibility to complete on their own time, anywhere.

    When I start my personalized unit I’d love to consult with you on how you kept students on track even as they pursued different learning goals. I will be in touch! Thanks for the inspiring posts!

    • Hi Jen,
      You bet! I think that having more of the types of assessments you mentioned would be very beneficial to changing the minds of our young learners but also their parents who were educated in a very different manner.

      I would love to help you in any way I can with the unit. One thing I would caution you with is that if all of your students are working on different things, then the fragmentation and ability to give good feedback is difficult. I would suggest trying to flexibly group them – perhaps with moderator in order to allow them to give each other feedback as well as receive yours.

      I really miss working with you Jen, and I hope we can continue to collaborate through to next year and beyond. You’re an amazing educator and I’ve learned much from you.


  2. Derek, you’re getting some great feedback here for sure! You’ve captured concerns from your students that I wager are the same in both parents and teachers: learning the same thing as other students is still highly valued, as are assessments that “count” (as Jen says in her comment).

    A quick word on assessment/evaluation…you should, if you haven’t already, take a look at the “Growing Success” article that Melody and I have written about. It gets rid of the idea of diagnostic, formative and summative phraseology, and talks about assessment for learning, assessment as learning, and assessment of learning. It is a subtle, but important shift in how we get our parents and students thinking differently around when, why and how we assess student learning.

    Finally, you should be reassured by these comments because education is really changing, and you’re pushing your classroom in the right direction! Change is something every student, parent and teacher handle differently; however if you can maintain your confidence, your research-based approach, and undying positive attitude, parents, students, and hopefully other teachers both at Lakefield and beyond will benefit!

    thanks for this thoughtful post!

    • Hey Garth,
      Yes, you’re right. What I meant was assessment for learning instead of assessment of learning. It was a late post and I think I need to spend more time revising and making sure of word choice since my posts are out there. I am familiar with the Growing Success document and thanks so much for clarifying.

      With our new Head Master and Curriculum leaders, this change is in motion, and it’s exciting to be a part of it.

      Thanks for the comment, and all the help you’ve offered early in my blogging career!


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