Are you considering using Mass Customized Learning (MCL) in your classroom? To me, the idea sounds fantastic and I want to jump in feet first. I realize that in the spectrum of professional educators, this may sound crazy to some and wonderful to others. In this series of post, I would like to share some of the pitfalls and success I have had in the process in the hopes that I can save you some grief.
Before you begin, the learning facilitator (teacher) in the process must absolutely decide how you will assess the student. As soon as you build your first learning path (sequence of lessons), the learners (kids) will begin generating work. This can be a blessing or a curse if you are not ready for it.
In my first attempt, I had a series of five interactive PowerPoints covering the concepts of science process. The basic ideas was the students would read the article, complete 3 or 4 slides with student responses and then turn them into me in Google Classroom. I decided this would be completely paperless at the onset and presentation files are full color (more engaging than standard worksheets). Kids began working and it was wonderful. Each one was learning at their own pace, I was free to circulate the room and help those who needed it most. Victory!
After the euphoria of happily working students dissipated, my first problem arose. How I was going to grade and collect materials became by big issue. Each student submitted the aforementioned interactive presentation back into Google Classroom. Doing the math, in this section I had 80 students, 4 slides of interactive content per lesson, 5 lessons voila, 1600 pages to grade in the snap of a finger. Ouch. To compound issues, grading is Google Classroom is not smooth. You must load the files, comment, then click the tab to go back to the original grading page. I was sinking fast and looking for a way to fix it.
In this case as I realized there was no way out, I decided to create an assignment called “My Best Work.” For this series of presentations, I asked the students to review their work from the 5 lessons, then screenshot one slide from each that represented their “Best Work.” This allowed me to have an artifact to assess their learning and helped engage them in a process of self-reflection and differentiation.
In the future.
I will plan a module, mastery or “prove it” assessment at the end of the lesson series. Making sure I have these assessment in place before hand.
Consider using a checklist that the student track and shows me their work. Working more based on visual checks in the classroom. Kind of a “grade as you go” platform.
Look at using stamps. Yes, I stamp papers and assign those a point value. A learning passport would be an interesting idea. Once you fill your pass point, then you can complete a “mastery quiz.”
Another viable solution, if you have access, is a premium LMS system like Canvas or Blackboard. The process of grading in Canvas is much more streamlined than Google Classroom. The presentation files that student edited would be one scrollable page with a push button rubric.
None of these issues are new. Consider math teachers with nightly homework. I have listened to these folks for years attempting to navigate the mounds of paperwork generated in the classroom. If MCL is on the radar in your school, my best advice, decide how you will assess/grade and collect work at first. That will set you off on the right foot to a manageable, interactive classroom. In the next article I will be discussing how we build learning paths.
(Article Note: Many proponents of MCL suggest an ungraded standards based classroom. I have witnessed this idea in action and it works. However, if you are an individual teacher implementing MCL for the first time. I would suggest sticking to regular classroom grading till you get the learning paths figured out.)
Looking for a lesson plan format to engage students and use technology? The 5E lesson plan is a perfect fit. This video is the first in a 5 parts series on creating 5E lessons. I generally use Google Drive to create and share with my students, this creates a simple paperless lesson.
Looking for some examples of 5E lesson plans? Following the link below to my 5E traits of Life Activity for Middle School Science.
I enjoy when I see intersections of new instructional models and proven teaching methods. For example, the 5E instructional model for teaching creates a streamlined template to design 1 to 1 instruction in a middle school class. Simply create your lesson document in Google, share it with your learners and it can guide their lesson experiment.
Recently I was looking at the second part of the 5E model, explore. In this portion of my 5E lessons students can read or watch instructional content to gain understanding of the topic. As I was considering how to improve student learning, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to include a Cornell Notes template into the activity. By asking the students to use active note taking strategies while using technology, creates a homerun. Cornell note taking templates are easily found and can be added to any lesson. A side benefit is that it also creates an artifact that allows them to demonstrate learning.
Follow the links below to learn more about Cornell note taking.
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Middle School Resources to Engage Kids
Love this one, simple but effective.
What if Jupiter was a star?