Nine Tips for Personalized Learning
1. Deliver Guidance and Group Lessons through Multiple Forms of Media
You now have at your fingertips far more than just the old standbys of words and still pictures. Counselors use computers and whiteboards to access oodles of instructional videos, audio clips, animations, and interactive games, some through software and some available online. Children also cement their knowledge by doing hands-on activities with this media. When learning about social skills, for instance, students can scour the school with digital cameras, taking photos of appropriate and inappropriate behavior wherever they find it. This data can then be projected for a real life class discussion on appropriate social skills and ways that we can all help those who may not be socially competent.
2. Gather and Use Immediate Feedback on Students' Understanding
Counselors may use remote-response systems (clickers), colorful little gadgets that allow each child to enter her answer to a practice question so that the teacher can instantly see who got it right or wrong. Computer software programs, too, can give kids practice questions, quickly diagnose misunderstandings, and allow counselors to customize subsequent lessons for each child's needs.
3. Give Students Options
All students shouldn't be required to show their learning the same way. Digital media open up a host of possibilities, beyond the traditional pencil and paper pre and posttest, yes and no responses. For instance, a counselor introduces a lesson via multimedia with hands on illustrations and assesses by giving kids additional choices, such as creating a PowerPoint slide show or a comic strip (using Comic Life software) or filming a skit (using Flip video cameras). This allows students to show their abilities and not disabilities.
4. Automate Basic-skills Practice
Free up some hours for more creative, fun technology projects (and for yourself!) by using software to do much of the basic-skills practice and assessment that would otherwise take up a lot of time. Educational computer programs can identify specific weaknesses in a child's skills, such as understanding analogies or adding fractions. There are online counselling tools, free webinars, Skype lessons that can be used through counselor lessons, blogs, and social media.
5. Practice Independent Counseling Skills
Counselors, like teachers, can practice expectations early in the school year. Counselors can review how to use technology at the beginning of each lesson if working in an elementary setting and have kids sign online agreements and have them posted if working with older students.
6. Create a Weekly "Must Do" and "May Do" List
Give a classroom of students an array of different, personalized tasks to do, and they'll inevitably finish them at different times. That's a tricky part of personalization. Counselors can collaborate with teachers to integrate appropriate counseling standards with academics. They are assigned a weekly list of "must dos" and "may dos," so kids who finish first can always find something to do next.
7. Be Flexible When Plans Go Awry
Computers don't always perform the way you wish or expect; so as you embark on this journey, expect the unexpected. When obstacles arise, you can model good problem-solving behavior by asking students to help you devise alternative approaches. "I say to students, 'You know what? If something doesn't work, it's OK, because "Every experience is a learning experience."
8. Let Students Drive
If you've got the tech tools, put them in kids' hands. Students use Flip cameras to film each other doing a character education skit, then critique both the presentation and the videography. Give students the opportunity to lead! Let them take control of the counseling lesson using a white board or YouTube video. They can even search for videos that possess certain counseling standards. These opportunities allow students to work at their own pace, capitalize on their skills, and discover ways to work around their challenges.
9. Share the Work of Creating Lessons
To ease the burden of planning lessons for students at diverse levels, counselors can share the responsibility and collaborate with one another. Create counselor learning stations. Begin with the end in mind!