What Does Personalized Learning in English Language Arts (ELA) Look Like?
-Ms. Lynsey Fleck, Instructional Coach
What Is Personalized Learning, and Why Does it Matter?
There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of personalized learning in recent years. Students need to begin working on reading, writing, and other skills where they are currently performing, rather than where the standards or grade levels dictate, so they can build off of what they already know and continue growing their skills. In addition, students need different types of lessons, activities, and supports to match their specific strengths, challenges, and learning styles. In essence, personalized learning is an approach that infuses equity meaningfully into everyday instruction. Many schools focus on personalizing student learning through the use of technology, including iPads and Chromebooks, and programs that allow students to use their devices to practice specific skills that they are working on. At MELA, we look at personalized learning a bit more...personally.
At MELA, each student is looked at as an individual. With the support of an Instructional Coach, teachers look at where each student is currently performing in reading and use that information to set monthly growth goals. Goals are set with students and shared with families, as is progress toward those goals. In addition, goals are adjusted as needed each month based on student participation, progress, and growth.
Small Group Instruction
Small group instruction is the place where students work toward achieving their reading goals at MELA. Teachers, with the support of an instructional coach, use student reading data and observation to plan instruction for these groups. Small group reading instruction happens for all MELA students every day to provide many opportunities to practice and apply skills. This results in increased reading growth for all students.
Responsive, Rigorous Curriculum
MELA’s ELA curriculum is consistent, rigorous, and responsive. Whole-group lessons are designed to explicitly model how to apply grade-level skills and to facilitate student participation and engagement with these skills. All lessons are closely aligned with grade-level standards, giving all students access to the knowledge necessary for achievement. In addition, whole-group lessons progressively build off of one another to help students make connections between what they already know and what they are learning. Small group instruction includes activities that provide access to these standards in different ways, allowing all students to actively engage with grade-level content, regardless of their individual reading level or performance.
In addition, curriculum and instruction at MELA are not fixed entities: they are constantly being reviewed, revised, and adjusted in response to student and teacher feedback and growth. This ongoing reflective process ensures that students receive relevant, purposeful instruction at all times.
1:1 Writing Conferences
At MELA, teachers support and conference with students during writing at least one time per week. During these conferences, teachers provide support and feedback to students on what they are doing well and how they can continue to improve as writers. This individualized instruction not only builds strong teacher/student relationships; it also provides students with the targeted feedback and support they need to continue growing their writing skills.
Transparency of Success
At MELA, we use personalized goal-setting, explicit instruction and modeling, 1:1 conferencing, and individualized writing rubrics to help students understand what success in reading and writing looks like. When students know what is expected of them and receive the support and feedback necessary to achieve that success, their confidence grows as much as their skills.
Next Up: Personalized Learning in Math
Personalized learning isn’t just for ELA. Check out next blog to learn more about what this approach looks like in math!