As we enter into the last few months of the school year, many of us are starting to turn an eye towards next year. It is a great time to think about the learning experiences we’ve put together for our learners, and how to grow them to be even more learner centered. One place to go is thinking about expanding learning opportunities to include targets at multiple readiness levels rather than only centering on one or two. We can describe this as having multiple access points. Some contents and measurement topics lend themselves more easily to this flexibility, while others take a little more thinking.
Flexible grouping is one of the best ways to meet learners at their readiness level, or Zone of Proximal Development. In order to figure out a learner’s readiness level in any given subject, there needs to be a pre- assessment. Given at the start of new learning, a pre-assessment helps both the teacher and the learner determine where to begin and are essential in learner centered proficiency based education. We cannot assume what learners do, or do not know, based simply on their social grade is school. Nor can we assume that performance in one content area or topic will indicate performance in others. In order to be truly learner centered and proficiency based, we need to use pre-assessment strategies to determine what our learners are ready for.
One of the core questions in creating a learner-centered proficiency based environment is “who has the control?” Posing this question in a variety of circumstances can help teachers and staff in a learning environment take steps to increase the learner-centeredness of any place or experience. Today I want to talk about this question in relation to handing out papers or materials for assignments and tasks.
Courtney is the Instructional Coach for KIDS RSU #2 in Maine. She also hosts a podcast about personalized learning, and is available for independent consulting work.
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