The Early Childhood Center has been focusing on specific goals to enhance personalized learning in their building. One focus of the year has been around collaborative learning, which is a step towards implementing the gradual release of responsibility instructional framework.
I recently visited Cindy Woodworth and Janet Sitar’s classrooms, where they have been working with students on collaborative discussions. Although I’ve seen personalized learning with young students, I must admit: I found myself doubting what was possible with student agency at this early level. I was eager to see students in action, but realized my mind questioned the possibility.
Of course, my doubt quickly subsided when I walked into the classrooms.
To work on collaborative learning, students draw a topic out of a basket and have a discussion with one another. From there, the students use visuals for support and guidance while practicing and improving their collaborative learning skills. Every student had the opportunity to get in front of the rest of the class, choose a classmate to join them, and then the pair demonstrates their skills by asking each other questions like, ‘how are you?’ They then ask a question about the specific topic, and repeat what they heard their classmate say about the topic. The process continues until each student has had a turn in front of the class.
Every student, in their own way and ability, demonstrated collaborative learning with their classmates.
Many people question how personalized learning can become a reality across the country, but this doubt rests in our own limits as adults. Our students are capable of so much more than the opportunities provided to them within the current education system. Through personalized learning, we can hold our students to high standards and successfully engage them in learning. We can help them develop these lifelong skills, no matter what age. We simply have to invite them to the table.