WIRED has an interesting piece on the current state of the personalized learning approach, which has recently become popular in certain school environments like charter schools.
On lengths of yarn stretched between chairs, sixth-grade math students were placing small yellow squares of paper, making number lines—including everything from fractions to negative decimals—in a classroom at Walsh Middle School. Working in teams one recent morning, they paper-clipped the squares along the yarn like little pieces of mathematical laundry.
Their teacher, Michele O’Connor, had assigned the number lines in previous years, but this year was different. She, personally, hadn’t spent much time leading students through practice problems or introducing the basic math concepts they would use in the project. That had largely been relegated to online math lessons, part of separate periods of learning time when students were free to work through computer-based lessons in any subject they chose, at their own pace.
The change at Walsh, located in Framingham, Massachusetts, is part of a nationwide pilot program, one that could indicate just how deeply and how quickly the personalized-learning trend will penetrate the average classroom. Indeed, despite the buzz around personalized learning, there’s no simple recipe for success, and the common ingredients — such as adaptive-learning technology and student control over learning — can backfire if poorly implemented
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