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How to use Personalized Learning in the Virtual Classroom

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Personalized learning and virtual learning go hand in hand

If you are worried about personalizing your virtual classroom, DON’T! Virtual classrooms and personalized learning were meant for each other! They are happily working together to make your life as a teacher EASY!

Firstly, if you haven’t jumped on the personalized learning bandwagon yet it’s definitely something you’re going to want to do NOW! Personalized learning is when you allow students to have a VOICE in the classroom! As a teacher you become the facilitator while your students mold your curriculum to their own interests and goals.

Personalized Learning can be achieved in the virtual classroom!

Overall, a teacher’s main goal in the classroom is for students to master the standards set by the department. Give students the ability to choose what materials they work with as they learn. After all, this is a wonderful way to get students to engage on their own.

Personalized learning actually instills an intrinsic motivation of education in our students and creates lifelong learners.

Personalized lessons for Math:

Let students find the STEM professions that interest them. Then let them learn the math standards through the equations that even professionals may use. If students are not interested in a STEM profession, have students think critically about real world math. Now they can learn how the standards in your course are used everyday in real life.

Personalized lessons for Science:

Students tend to like science, even if they don’t want to admit it. For this reason, let students pick from a selection of science fields related to your course. Next, have them do real research to find the information that is probably already in their textbooks! This way, they feel like they have uncovered real material that is relevant to their lives and interests.

Personalized lessons for History:

History is excitingly set up for role playing games. Give students real world examples of each time period. For instance, assign students research projects, to help them understand a time period. Then have students reenact it. Additionally, they have to demonstrate true mastery of the time period by playing out a historic event such as a trial, a battle, or a revolution.

Personalized lessons for English:

Students all have things they are already into- even if that thing is “nothing”. Let students search for their own content. So long as the Lexile ranges are appropriate for your course, the genres or topics are less important. Sometimes genres do matter, but not usually. Giving students the opportunity to choose within a selection is all it takes to excite them!

With the shift to virtual education it is not difficult to personalize your virtual classroom.

Since the virtual classroom is set up online, it is easier than ever to push students into the virtual world to find their content.

To start students off, give them an assignment that already has multiple links they can utilize to choose their materials. Eventually, students will be coming to you with their own ideas. It only takes a quick scan to decide if it is appropriate content for the unit.

If you prefer to stick to an online textbook you can always allow students to choose from two or three different texts from the textbook in order to complete an assignment. One thing I enjoyed doing was assigning a full thematic unit in the textbook, then giving students a ‘menu’ to complete. They didn’t have to read everything, but they did have to choose one fiction, one poem, one informational text etc. I do, however, recommend to “ditch that textbook” whenever possible!

Virtual Learning and personalized learning support each other in the classoom

Student Voice Leads to Leadership

Students quickly become more comfortable with making these choices as the semester progresses. I encourage my students to focus on not only textual resources such as websites and stories but also visual and audio resources as well, such as videos or podcasts.

The 21st century classroom should accept the growing role of other “new” medias in the world. This includes YouTube videos, videos on streamable platforms such as Amazon prime, Hulu, or Netflix, audiobooks found on Audible, Google books, or even the library. Even podcasts which can be found on Spotify iTunes and so many other platforms are a useful tool for the 21st century classroom.

Plan Ahead. Surprises for Students Can Damage Relationships.

When working virtually you will have a “virtual” classroom, which is where your students will log in to receive their lessons, materials, and other guidance from their teacher. All of the possible platforms for virtual classrooms gives teachers the ability to set up unit modules at the beginning of the semester. I encourage virtual teachers to go ahead and at least set up the basic structure of these modules. You can always go back and add videos, texts, links or other resources that can help engage your students throughout the semester, but being able to show your students the full structure of the course will help them understand how to manage their own time in order to do their best in the class.

Remember, keep your units general and based on the skills and concepts you need your students to learn.

For some courses this will include some content, such as teaching students to read, understand, and analyze Shakespearean character development. For a unit like this, you have to get students to read Shakespeare, but you can personalize this unit by allowing them to choose which play to work with, or to listen, view, and read at different times. Personalized learning does not mean giving your students full autonomy, but it does mean giving them a chance to find something inspiring about the unit, course, and subject, and using those inspiration to propel them through their learning careers!

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