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Personalizing Engagement An Idea

The purpose of personalizing learning is for learners to take more ownership over the learning process. It is not an all or nothing proposal. It is not a process of giving up control but designing opportunities. When I look at my current classroom, I look at areas where I’ve been able to give student some opportunities for ownership, but there are many areas in which they are bound to a rigid structure I impose on them.

When looking at learning through the lens of Universal Design for Learning, as suggested by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, there are 3 areas we can focuses on when promoting ownership: Access, Engagement, and Expression. In my classroom, I have worked to allow students more opportunities in how they demonstrate mastery of content outcomes.  But, this comes at the end of the unit.  

Currently, when students engage with content in my classroom, they have options in how they work on the same required assignment. This could be a problem set or a lab experiment. In the end, they are all asked to do the same task. after this work, learners have additional practice activities that are not required and are designed based on input from students.

I’m hoping to redesign my classroom practice to allow students more opportunities to design their own path of engaging with the content.  The purpose of this practice is to create experiences in which they will construct their own understandings of the course content.

When I asked my students what forms of practice they’d like to be able to engage in, their responses included watching videos, guided practice problems, readings, hands-on explorations, and problem sets. They want to be able to work in a on their own, with peers, and teacher-led.

My goal is to engineer a space that gives learners the opportunity to experiment not only with what they are studying but with how they choose to engage with that content. I want students to be able to make informed choices in how they choose to practice.

To start this rethinking, I've been looking at some ideas from the elementary level including this article from Veronica Lopez.

I'm currently fleshing out ideas and imagine they will change over time but I'll be looking to combine the physical space in my classroom with our digital space in Canvas Learning Management System. I've thought of a couple of different possibilities but these are just my starting ideas:
  1. Canvas LMS - Digital
    1. Video
    2. Reading
    3. Practice Problems
  2. Quiet Zone
  3. Group Zone - Collaborative
  4. Hands-on
    1. Exploration
    2. Experimentation
    3. Equations in action
  5. Guided Instruction Zone
  6. Physical Information
    1. Reading chapters
    2. Infographics
    3. Answer Keys

 I am looking for any ideas and resources to help me in my process.  Please reach out with any ideas you have via Twitter (@mo_physics), email (, or in the comments.

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