Tag Archives: Personalised Learning

It’s just not cricket..

18 Mar


Before I begin apologies for the metaphors this week but I couldn’t resist. Recently, I went spent a day at Junior Primary cricket and it got me thinking about the links between cricket and our role as teachers.

Selecting the Right Bat:

Mine was always the Duncan Fernley Magnum growing up. When you arrive at the crease, it is important you select a bat based on your size and strength. Some people select a heavy bat, while others select a lighter one. Some people select one on feel or brand. Me? Well, it was the Magnum because Martin Crowe used it.

Personalized learning should allow students to have choices and to select tools (the bat) that will make them feel comfortable while searching for answers and participating in the assigned tasks.


Sometimes when you are younger you play on a half pitch or the ball might be modified.

When students need modifications, it is worth the time, money, and effort. Modifications allow students to gain confidence and eventually some students will be ready for the next level of learning without the modifications. Scaffolding is another term that came to mind when I saw my young daughter have a hit. Scaffolding is a skill that teachers learn over time and it provides students with instructional supports which facilitate learning when students are first introduced to a new subject.

Second Life:

In the younger grades often the tamariki get another go if they are out first ball. As a Dad I really like this rule. As a player I know I would have hated it.

Frequently, teachers create assessments which only provide students with a single opportunity to reach a proficient score. Tamariki gain confidence when they get runs, because it means that they get a second go it helps them. The simple fact is that if we want all students to meet standards (and we already have established that such success is essential) then they must all believe that success is within reach for them if they try. The critical new insight about assessment is, what students think about and do with assessment results is every bit as important as what the adults think about and do with those results. As we look at the example from cricket, we must remember that the goal is for all tamariki to succeed and develop a love for the game, even if they do get out on their first attempt.

The Rules

There is no doubt cricket is a complex sport with many rules. There are many teachable moments here especially around leg before wicket (LBW). At all levels the fielding team can be seen to appeal for everything and there is often confusion as any players do not understand the rules.

How often do our students experience a confusion in their understanding? Students may demonstrate proficiency in some areas, but they still lack true understanding of a key concept. When teachers are developing curriculum and instruction, they must anticipate a lack in student understanding. There are several ‘misunderstandings’ that teachers can predict will occur at each grade level. Wiggins and McTighe (2007) suggest that teachers should identify student misunderstandings in curriculum documents. If teachers predict that students will need a second or third attempt, then they will be prepared to reteach or offer different approaches for students to gain a clear understanding and meet the learning goals established by the teacher. Most of our students will not score a strike on their first attempt, and we should be prepared to reset the pins and offer additional opportunities to learn.

A wicket:

Everybody had a bowl. There were high fives and cheering when someone got a wicket. It is fun to celebrate success.

Students need a goal to aim for. It is easier to reach a learning goal if you understand the rules and are supported in your learning. Teachers can create small wins when they develop curriculum and instruction. Teams of teachers should meet on a regular basis to share strategies which support diverse learning styles and result in student success. I am not trying to advocate for a script for all teachers, but it makes sense to have a learning target and to provide support for each student.

No balls and wides:

The game of cricket consists of penalties and there are penalties for bowling poorly. Bowlers are not allowed to cross the line when they release the ball it is called a no ball or wide if the batsman can’t reach it.

When teachers design curriculum and instruction they should take precaution and make certain that students understand the boundaries. Some teachers prefer inquiry learning or experimental learning and this style of teaching discourages boundaries to a certain extent. Some adults view boundaries as expectations or societal norms. Quality curriculum and instruction can lead students to understand boundaries which exist in life (i.e., citizenship, communication, technology, collaborative work, and research ethics) and develop the key competencies. Students may decide to push the boundaries in some areas, while staying within the boundaries in other classes. The key is that our curriculum and instruction create opportunities for students to as they will need to understand in order to be successful as adults.


Personalized learning, opportunity to learn, identifying learning targets, providing scaffolding, identifying barriers to learning, and celebrating student success have been in existence for over one hundred years. Teachers and administrators understand what good teaching looks like and they strive to meet the needs of each student. However, wishing to succeed and having an intentional strategy are two different approaches.

Curriculum development is critical if we are going to meet the needs of each student. Some teachers spend evenings and weekends developing curriculum and planning instructional strategies which will meet the learning needs of each student. Other teachers fail to plan and struggle to identify the learning goal of their activities and group assignments.  We don’t need students to get a wicket on  the first attempt, but we should be prepared to help each student get a wicket or run by the end of the unit or end of the semester. Tamariki will enjoy learning more when teachers plan curriculum which supports student learning needs and when teachers provide differentiated instruction and additional support.  How are you supporting your learners.


Wiggins, G. & McTighe, G., (2007). Schooling by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


My Ako Goal

11 Dec


My Ako Goal this year was to lead student-centred, innovative and collaborative pedagogical practices. Things I had in mind at the start of the year were to reject the deficit thinking. Caring for the learner – building a relationship with our students. Having high expectations which must be voiced and demonstrated through the dispositions of Manawa Mission. Manage a classroom for learning not behavior and creating a culture for learning. I wanted to deepen my own content knowledge.

Did I do this in 2017? To a degree. It was my mahi. I developed a new strategy or rediscovered one. Student voice is always a powerful tool – it allows the teachers to check in with what is happening in the class with 3 simple questions: What are you learning? How can you show me your successful at learning? What happens next?

I tried to keep things fresh. As students have access to any information possible, there certainly is no need to “spoon-feed” the knowledge or teach “one-size fits all” content. I recognized through my learning plans as students have different personalities, goals, and needs, offering personalized instructions is not just possible but also desirable. When students are allowed to make their own choices, they own their learning, increase intrinsic motivation, and put in more effort — an ideal recipe for better learning outcomes.

I deepened my knowledge by reading some wonderful pieces of literature and attending some great courses. Perhaps I need to work on the fact the students must be aware the environment is student centred not teacher centred. My students were often passive.

My Next Steps

  1. Keep getting teachers to share their learning.
  2. Continue to have disruptive conversations.
  3. Work on creating a collaborative teaching environment.

Personalising Learning

10 Jun

Personalizing learning means reversing our thinking so that is built around our students. Recognizing that all our girls are a gift from God. This means that we need to take much more account of who learners are, where they are, and to what and to whom they are connected in order to build the experiences and networks that strengthen every learner’s capacity. We need to consider how to deploy resources for teaching (teachers, spaces, time) more flexibly to meet learners’ needs, as well as how to support learners’ access to new resources beyond those that are traditionally part of the schooling system. We are now using a data more and this has been an observable cultural change. Our staff learning plans are comprehensive but it needs to go further. There needs to be collaboration amongst staff and they need to be living documents. I would challenge our staff to break the model of “one size fits all.” The idea that we see students in a holistic way-he tangata, he tangata, he tangata – acknowledging our past, present and future.

The evolution of learning

6 Apr

This week our school implemented a new reporting and parent teacher interview system. It is a huge change that I will keep you informed on. Basically it is a move from the 5 minute speed dating system to 1 interview over twenty minutes where one teacher covers everything.

It got me thinking the world’s education systems are in the midst of change unlike any other time over the past century. We are in the greatest change since de la Salle introduced classroom teaching in France. It’s a historical moment where governments, teachers, parents and school communities are exploring visions of an education system that would embody increased flexibility (curricular and otherwise), innovation (technologies and pedagogy) and more individualized and self-directed approaches to student learning. Within this 21st-century parade of change, the notion of personalization in education is moving to the forefront.

Every day teachers enter classrooms to engage diverse minds across multiple activities and to support each student as he or she inquiries into problems. These same teachers, who hold a keen awareness of each of their student’s particular learning styles and passions, are also simultaneously contending with issues of poverty, lack of parental involvement (or conversely helicopter parents), large classes, familial and community influences, student effort and numerous digital and popular culture distractions that add to complexity of their professional practice.

We now have many deep cultural undertows that are worth supporting; primarily differentiation that recognizes the diversity and complexity in the classroom, and the taking up of emerging technologies to engage learning.

We are entering a digital age where students access the information they want—how they want it, when they want it and where they want it. This will have a profound effect on critical thinking as people are increasingly fed only the exact type of information and sources (individual blogs, new media and ethnically oriented online spaces) to which they digitally subscribe. The time where mobile devices were banned in classes is a distant memory.

Perhaps an immediate action that teachers can take is to embrace the wiki way of influencing meaning by visiting Wikipedia.org and contributing to or (re)shaping the definition of personalized learning. As educators and others search out the meaning of this term, you will then have put your personal stamp on the concept as you see it lived out in your own unique educational contexts. Ultimately, we need to individually and collectively define this term, and in doing so be empowered to share a vision of what knowledge and pedagogical approaches are of most worth in the 21st century.


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