Many of us have heard of the term “Individualized Learning”, but what does it really mean? How does a teacher build individual learning structures with 30-36 students in a classroom? It may seem like a daunting or impossible task, but with a few additional techniques, learning objectives can be met on an individual basis without requiring 30 plus individual learning tasks. This blog will give a brief overview of individualized learning and an introduction to these techniques.
First, let’s define the term individualized learning. We define this method of instruction as one in which content, instructional technology, and pace of learning are based upon the abilities and interest of each learner. Our role as educators is to find what connects a student’s learning style with the subject we are teaching.
Let’s look at some of the most recognized learning styles and how they relate to personality traits. This will help to give us insight into how we can spend a small amount of time with each student and learn about their individual style.
Different learning styles:
- Visual (spatial): Prefers using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory-musical): Prefers using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): Prefers using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): Prefers using the body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical (mathematical): Prefers using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (intrapersonal): Prefers to work alone and use self-study.
How do we go about delivering this from theory to actual practice? Below are some of the key areas to focus on when creating a lesson that incorporates individualized learning concepts.
- Incorporating Self-Reflection and Goal-Setting
- Flexible & Intentional Master Schedules
- Using Digital Content and Tools in a Purposeful Way
- Incorporating Personalized Playlists
- Planning for Flexible Seating
- Involving Students in Grading Conversations
Let’s look at an example of a lesson I used when teaching Microsoft PowerPoint. In this lesson I built small groups based on various learning styles. The task was to create a presentation using 5-8 slides.
- Title slide and Theme style for our Visual students.
- Introduction to topic slide for our logic based students.
- Picture slide with bullet point facts for our Visual and Logical students.
- Video slide embedding a video for our Aural learners.
- Music slide for our Aural students.
Once the presentation was completed, our Verbal students would give a speech presentation to go along with the PowerPoint presentation. This one lesson allowed me to:
- Create small group dynamics.
- Blend each learning style into each other by building dependency on each student in the group to complete the task.
- Each student felt valued for their individual vision of the project and learning style.
- Team building aspects were established as the project could not be completed by one student alone.
- Created value within students for their classmates’ styles of learning
This is just one example of how the same lesson that could have been given to a group of 30 accomplished not only the lesson at hand, but tapped into almost every learning style as well as converting a large class size into smaller, more manageable groups. This individualized learning method of instruction is growing in popularity as schools attempt to meet the ever-evolving and demanding dynamics of our students.