Differentiated Instruction or Personalized/Customized Learning – That is the Question

I attended John T. Spencer‘s session entitled, Customized Learning, at the Reform Symposium on the weekend.  It is quite amazing how inspiring a person can be in 30 minutes!  But, he was, just that, inspiring.

He talked about “empowering the students to take ownership over their own learning.” I discussed his session in a previous blog post.

John made Personalized Learning sound so easy – that’s what made him so inspiring, I think.

Then I heard @mrsbiology (Terie Engelbrecht). She talked about Differentiating Instruction for Today’s Learners.  She was fabulous and so generous!  I got a ton of ideas from her as well. She has a fabulous blog: Crazyteacherlady.com that includes a ton of resources for all teachers.  Take a look.

But, I am now at a bit of a standstill as I’m trying to prepare for the two new classes I will be teaching …

How to get started?

Does it have to be either Personalized Learning or Differentiated Instruction?

Can it be a mix of each?

Is Personalized Learning even possible or realistic only being with the students for 100 minutes each week – 2 – 50minute blocks?

Is this possible to do in isolation – not knowing the classroom teacher’s teaching/learning approach.

Where to from here?

Published by Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.

3 thoughts on “Differentiated Instruction or Personalized/Customized Learning – That is the Question

  1. I know you well enough to know that you will find the right balance. Those are very lucky children you’ll be teaching (and hopefully the staff will notice and follow too). 🙂

  2. I would say that you have a chicken and egg situation here. I would argue that you can’t have personalization without differentiation and you cannot have one without the other.

  3. Thanks for the kind words about the presentation. I probably erred in making it sound easy (though it is far easier than differentiation, in my opinion). I don’t have it figured out. I had lessons that tanked. I had times when I tried to let students personalize learning only to realize they needed more support.

    I’m a fan of balance, nuance and paradox. My blog used to be called “musings from a not-so-master teacher,” because, quite honestly, I don’t have it all figured out.

    I first switched toward the customized learning style when I taught only one subject (social studies) and realized that I couldn’t differentiate effectively, because of the time and resource barriers. I began making lessons more fluid, more open and more free to student modification.

    It’s been a slow journey and one filled with mistakes. That’s the downside of a thirty minute presentation. If we were sharing a pint, you’d get a chance to hear a little more about the failure.

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