My experience in personalizing learning through the use of Competency Based Education (CBE) revolves around knowing my student’s learner profile (strengths, interests, aspirations, needs, IEP if any, and any relevant standardized test scores), being flexible with their learning pace (some learners are engaged in completely different tasks within the same class), and collecting learning evidence to monitor their advancements (data that demonstrates how learners advance in their learning, and which becomes part of their portfolio).
In the beginning of the school year, I assessed the learners with a diagnostic test I created to understand their prior competencies. Based on their results, we co-created individualized goals that are appropriately challenging for each learner and we decided how exactly we will track learning data.
Throughout the unit of inquiry, I provide non-judgemental, scaffolded feedback and integrate assessments ‘just in time’. As the learners are self-directed, they track their own data and move from one performance level to another when they achieve proficiency in the competency.
The data we collect is qualitative and quantitative, depending on the student’s goal and we can measure using 3 levels of proficiency (3-Meets, 2-Approaches and 1- Below Expectations).
In my French classroom, learners own the learning environment because they keep co-designing it with me, whether we are talking about the physical space or the socio-emotional and virtual spheres. We start all our classes with a grounding or inclusive activity (greetings, mindfulness…), and then I engage and activate learning by letting learners break out to work on their goals. I monitor the learning during the lesson using various strategies and before the students leave, they have a mini exit ticket that relates to their goal. This structured routine allows students to be present to the content of their learning as well as reflect on how they learn. This way, they take ownership of the learning.
I use a blended environment in my classes to offer various pathways (both offline and online) to ensure the integration of various sensory needs and promote equity and inclusion. We make regular use of Seesaw and Google Classroom and integrate third-party tools as necessary (for example Thinglinks to showcase interactive and non-linear content that is co-created with the learners). Because the environment is designed for Personalized Learning, there are multiple learning zones that can be created on the spot (campfire, waterhole, mountain top, cave, sandpit…) and the learning modalities (kinesthetic, visual, auditory, vestibular…) makes the learning visible and tangible.
In this context, students and teachers bond: they develop trust and strong relationships. Learners become increasingly self-directed and are able to articulate their needs, know themselves as learners and make decisions that impact their learning positively (for example by choosing the pace or the process to demonstrate their understanding of a concept). Learning is released and retained in a sustainable way and fewer gaps occur.