I think it is far too easy to jump on some form of bandwagon and not bother to look around and assess how this bandwagon is actually running, and whether this particular wagon is fitting your needs or not. In other words, I want to share some of my current day woes about this foray into personalization.
While students were charting their own course through the Mind Blowing Matrix of Connections I noticed something rather quickly: when students had the chance to work at their own pace, this actually translated to students working slower than I had hoped for. In my mind, I was thinking that students could likely browse for one session, and have maybe one (or max two other sessions) to actually write up their brief paragraphs about connection. But no…I was rudely awakened to the fact that “at your own pace” might mean that students’ timelines and my own timeline are not necessarily in sync. I had designed the experience around students perhaps working more quickly (and thus the advanced and optional stages), but why would a student challenge themselves towards the “advanced and optional” stages if they had the chance to work slower and do less? I heard a lecture once about brain development and reading (although it really applies to any kind of learning) that our brains are set up to conserve energy, so yes, I can certainly appreciate where my students would be coming from.
Which actually brings me back to a conversation the personalized posse (Aaron Vigar, Danielle Ganley, Brent Hurley, Carloyn Bilton, Alan MacInnis, Brad Bohte) had at the 3rd Face-2-Face session at MaRS: should more challenging tasks be “worth more” in terms of marking and grades?
If you take a peek at the Mind Blowing Matrix of Connections, you will see that the content on the grid is more challenging as the numbers increase (in other words, it is easier to connect a level 1 than it is to connect a level 7). There is no incentive for a student to try and connect a level 7 artifact to The Book Thief. Should I have created a gradient with this grid, so that if you looked at artifacts from the 1-3 range, the most you could score is a 2/4, if you went to artifacts from the 4-6 range you could at most score a 3/4, and if you challenged yourself to connect artifacts from the 7-9 range, you could achieve a 4/4?
Because this Matrix thing is but one component of a larger unit on The Book Thief, I’m not overly worried about my students not challenging themselves to their appropriate “zone of proximal development”, but rather I’m hoping to consider some of these mini-pitfalls and use my realizations to help me build better, more mind-blowing personalized experiences for my students in the future.
How have you, oh expert personalizers, accounted for differing speeds, conservation of energy, challenge levels, and zones of proximal developments with assessment of personalized learning?