In an ideal personalized learning classroom, teachers are moving from lecturers to facilitators. While student learning is carefully crafted to the individual learner themselves. This style of learning moves away from the traditional “one size fits all” approach (O’Donoghue, 2010). This teaching approach increases student choice in demonstrating learning and mastery of the standards. While also playing to their interests, strengths, and weaknesses (Basham et al., 2016).
Nearpod is a resource that is consistently incorporated into my school building to enhance instruction and personalize learning. After many classroom observations, I began to create my own resources for the music classroom! Thus beginning my journey with personalized learning and Nearpod.
Seven personalized learning principles adopted across the nation:
- Varied Strategies
- Choice in Demonstrating Learning
- Just-in-Time Direct Instruction
- Voice and Choice
- Mastery-Based Assessments
- Flexible Pacing
- Co-Plan Learning
I serve on the Vanguard Leadership Team, Fulton County Fine Arts Support Team, and the Personalized Learning Team. I have been trained in identifying and implementing personalized learning. Music technology is still growing, building and sharing resources is important. I’ve included a few connections and examples of how you too, can hop on the bandwagon and create a personalized learning environment.
It is important to find ways to include opportunities to teach the diversity of our students and their characteristic differences. Nearpod offers activities that include many different media formats. One of my favorite pushes from the Nearpod team is the blend of analog and digital in their lessons. They understand that students need variety to reach all learners, to offer collaboration, and to foster creativity away from the screen. This is even more important for music teachers as our main purpose is to make music. Ensuring you have the perfect blend is extremely important.
Another element of varied strategies includes teaching in groups. This could be a full class lesson, live sessions or a small group, student-paced session. I especially love using Nearpod at the beginning of a unit of study as a diagnostic assessment. I gauge what students know with a hook to increase interest! Students are then placed in differentiated stations as an engaging formative check.
Choice in Demonstrating Learning:
Educators should be finding ways to offer opportunities for students to take part in assessments that allow them to “prove mastery not only in the content, but also in workplace readiness skills such as critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration” (Lands, 2013).
Here are ways Nearpod can serve as a creation platform to prove their learning:
- Respond to Nearpod questions within the lesson in different formats.
- Create a student-paced lesson.
- Leverage flipped learning for students to use as a review.
- Crete music tutorials for a student webpage for other student remediation.
Just-in-Time Direct Instruction:
Collecting data to inform instruction is an important part of teaching. At the same time, offering timely feedback to ensure students are growing. Through Nearpod live reports, teachers can view student responses as they teach. These lessons display exemplars and/or identify misconceptions.
Another element of just-in-time direct instruction includes flexible groupings.
- Use reports to group students based on their learning needs, in the moment.
- Launch student-paced lessons to differentiate group work.
- Send different lesson codes based on student needs.
- Explore Nearpod’s reports for whole-class or individual student data.
Voice & Choice:
Offering student voice in learning provides students with accountability, buy-in, and interest. Another important aspect of voice and choice is finding ways for each student’s voices to be heard.
- Leverage Nearpod’s poll feature to elicit students’ voice to guide the lesson direction.
- Launch a Nearpod collaborate to type in short responses.
- Use Nearpod’s quick checks as an outlet for student voice.
Music students are often exposed to a fun hook followed by a poll. I give students choice on selecting what and how they would like to learn through labeled options.
I’m also a firm believer in controlled choice.
- Provide choices in what and how they learn through flexible student-paced lessons.
- Allow students to select items that are more relevant to their interests.
- Use poll features for students to select content on what they will be learning.
Just like adults, children learn at different speeds and through different processes. Variations in student learning should be taken into consideration when designing lesson where new content is learned. Flexible learning environments can be powerful if they promote “time for mastering concepts, a cognizance of student’s time requirements, and truly using formative assessment” (Fox, 2016).
Student-Paced lesson benefits:
- Students can move at their own pace.
- Utilize live embedded resources in a “one-stop” location with built-in exemplars, remediation and/or enrichment activities.
- Live assessment results can be embedded and viewed throughout the class and after.
Music teachers cycle through over one hundred students a day. We are the first to recognize that teaching isn’t a “one size fits all” scenario. We must offer opportunities to allow all students take part in the planning process. Not only does this pique student engagement, it fosters a sense of community and interests. Goals can be set and shared, lessons and strategies can be suggested. Processes and implementation can offer input in many ways.
How to use Nearpod’s open-ended questions:
- Collect data before the start of a new unit to elicit ideas.
- Collect data at the end of a unit to share their thoughts or opinions.
- Provide opportunities to share accomplishments, useful processes, or difficult processes.
Identifying student mastery and conducting formative checks, are two different tasks that work hand in hand. Insert Nearpod formative checks throughout live sessions, student-paced sessions, or quick “ticket-out-the-door” options. These checks help teachers combat misconceptions and offer before to the summative task. If students are not receiving these checks along the way, it is highly likely that there will be a possible failure of the summative task.
Through feedback, formative checks, and tracking individual student growth, students will begin to take ownership of their learning. We are working hard to ensure music educators are the ones defining how to incorporate personalized learning in the classroom. We must also remember that we are music teachers first. We are working toward the common goal of creating and making music.
It is important to know that personalized learning incorporates strategies of great teaching. Many of us already have these concepts in place. The biggest take away is that teaching should live on a continuum. We must never live only at the top or bottom. We should be consistently moving on the scale in accordance with the student learning process and teacher instruction. Finding ways to properly integrate technology to enhance good teaching will be key.
Mrs. Megan Endicott is the music specialist at Dolvin Elementary School. She is the Fine Arts Support Teacher for Fulton County Schools and on the Fulton County Vanguard Technology Leadership team. She has been awarded the Atlanta Families’ Award of Excellence in Education and Teacher of the Year. She has presented at various conferences on topics such as PBL, Personalized Learning, Rigor & Blooms Taxonomy in music, to name a few at conferences such as ISTE, CUE, NAfME, TI:ME, GMEA, GaETC, and local school district professional developments. She is earning her ED.S in Instructional Technology and serves as a Nearpod Certified Trainer and PioNear.