Personalized Learning


Success in the 21st Century

At Chicago Public Schools, our mission is to deliver a high-quality public education for every child in every neighborhood that prepares them for success in college, career, and community.

Today’s students must not only develop core academic skills, but a new set of competencies. They must know how to work in teams, solve problems creatively, learn from mistakes, and pursue goals. To achieve this, we believe our students require a holistic education; one that harnesses the power of 21st century technology to allow teachers to treat each student as an individual.

We know, from both experience and research, that each student brings forth a unique set of skills, interests, and learning styles into the classroom. What is relevant and rigorous for one student may not be for the next. Through personalized learning (PL), we will move away from the “one size fits all” system to one where every student is empowered to become a curious, self-directed, and lifelong learner - attributes that are critical for success.

What is Personalized Learning?

Personalized Learning is a teaching and learning strategy that incorporates tailored and rigorous instruction based on student needs, strengths, and interests. While every student is ultimately working towards the same skills, through real-time results and expanded curriculum options, PL lets teachers customize the learning path, pace, and environment to each student's individual strengths, needs, and interests.

As a flexible learning model, learning can happen anytime and anywhere, and students can often demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways. As co-designers of their learning plans, students are empowered to take ownership of their education.

How will my child's experience be different in a personalized learning classroom than a traditional one?
Traditional classrooms often teach, assess, and advance every student in the same way and at the same time. While classrooms will still work to learn the same skills, the PL model allows for students to take different learning paths to achieve mastery. These different learning paths may mean that students are working on different assignments at any given time, but allows students to take more ownership of their education – teaching them not only the specific curriculum, but also about strategies for their success.

How can students be expected to design their own learning plan?
Students are not expected to design a learning plan on their own. In a PL model, they are brought into the process alongside a teacher, so that decisions can be made together about how each student will achieve success. Instead of a "one size fits all" model, this approach enables teachers to identify the appropriate resources and provide tailored instruction to fit each student's learning speed and style.

Is Personalized Learning just about putting technology programs and devices in the classrooms?
No. Classrooms using the PL model will often have access to new devices and programs, but these do not replace the methods used in traditional classrooms. Instead, bringing 21st century technology into our classrooms will bolster and expand traditional methods, allowing for a wider variety and customizing of lesson plans. Additionally, the use of technology helps provide real-time data about student progress and helps teachers identify and organize the appropriate steps to keep students moving along their learning path. Ultimately however, any benefits from the use of additional technology still rely on strong teacher instruction and student relationships.

If a student learns best from traditional, lecture-style instruction, will personalized learning be detrimental to him or her?
Direct, teacher-led instruction is still a component of personalized learning, but it is one of many methods at a teacher's disposal. Teachers often utilize whole-group, small-group, individualized, and independent instruction based on the needs of students. Personalized learning actually allows every student - whether they are slightly behind, slightly ahead, or right on grade-level - to engage with work at the level of rigor most appropriate for their skill level and learning style. Additionally, exposing students to a variety of learning methods and allowing them choice in their pace and path helps build critical skills needed for success in the 21st century, such as collaboration, self-motivation, and self-direction.


Core Elements

Although it may look different in each school, there are four core elements that we believe help build the foundation for personalized learning.

Learner Profiles

Each student has an updated file of his/her individual strengths, needs, motivations, and goals. This is co-created by the student and teacher and regularly referenced to create a student's learning path.

Personal Learning Paths

Each student's learning path - what, when, where, and how they learn and demonstrate mastery - is uniquely determined by their learner profile. All students are held to the same set of high expectations, but each student co-designs a customized path that adapts based on progress, needs, and goals.

Competency Based Progression

Each student's progress toward defined skills and goals is regularly assessed. Instead of assessing and advancing every student in the class at the same time, in a competency-based model an individual student advances once they demonstrate mastery.

Connected & Flexible Learning Environments

Each student can learn and demonstrate mastery anytime and anywhere. Beyond the walls and hours of the school day, students, families, and communities are connected to relevant, rigorous, and accredited learning opportunities that are also meaningfully intertwined with personal learning paths. Inside the school day, student needs drive the design of the learning environment - including how resources, staffing, space, and time is utilized.

Page Last Modified on Wednesday, March 21, 2018