Opportunity Culture® Voices: For Truly Personalized Learning, I Had to Try, Try Again

by | November 27, 2016

lori-treiber-2After 26 years of teaching, I was the model of a traditional teacher.

Class began with review, then new material and cooperative or independent work, then closure. But two years ago, intrigued by my district’s request that I pioneer an Opportunity Culture® biology blended-learning class, extending my reach to more students (and for more pay), I took the challenge: Could I learn some new tricks?

Yes. Just not the way I expected.

–Cabarrus County, N.C., Biology Blended-Learning Teacher Lori Treiber in For Truly Personalized Learning, I Had to Try, Try Again

For Lori Treiber, “truly personalized learning” was the goal as she set out to design the structure of her blended class:

For the first semester in fall 2015, I extended my reach by seeing one group of students every other day, teaching a second group on the first group’s “off” days—nearly doubling my student load for this period to 46. I planned to cover two days of material during each face-to-face day—through labs and activities with minimal lecturing—while students worked online in the classroom on off days.

To “flip” the classroom, I recorded my usual lectures that summer, using PowerPoints and animations. I embedded questions in the videos to help students stay on track, and gathered remediation and enrichment resources.

I divided my students three ways: half met with me for half the period, while half worked online next door, then switched; half met with me for the whole period, switching the next day; or all 46 met together in a large room.  I could design each day to best fit students’ needs and each topic’s objectives.

I also gave students personal choice and some freedoms. I broke the assignments into 80 percent “basic work” and 20 percent “uPicks,” letting students select from an assignment list. Students got all assignments at the beginning of the topic and could set their pace. Basic work was due daily, uPicks any time before the test. Freedom, right?

Well, yes and no, as Treiber found out. She hit some bumps that first semester, and made some useful adjustments. But she still wasn’t satisfied. Read her inspirational story of how her class–and her teaching–evolved over the past several semesters in the latest column in the Opportunity Culture® series on Real Clear Education.

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