Personalized Learning Contracts

During the second nine weeks, I decided to experiment with my enrichment group in math.  Last year and this year, I have felt that sometimes I do not differentiate enough with Singapore Math and from my research, I felt like the use of learning contracts might fix this problem.

What I did was ask this group of students in Fifth Grade what interested them in math.  Overwhelmingly, the response was “geometry”.  So, at Conference Day, I ran the idea past the parents and they were very supportive.

With the one fourth grader that I chose, I assigned the topic of coding since I felt like he would enjoy learning the basics of this skill. I had worked a little on this last year with my class and they really liked it.

I created a contract for each child, discussed it with them, set a due date,  and then had them take it home and have their parents sign it too.

First, let me say that it was an enormous amount of work for me.  I had to research sites, decide on a plan, tweek the contracts (there are an enormous amount on line to choose from), create a rubric, and continue to follow-up with the students on a regular basis.

Secondly, I am not sure that the contracts worked with this group of students.  They were mostly excited that I excused them from the assigned homework in order for them to work on their plans.  The fourth grader actually did more work than my fifth graders did.

When it came to class presentations, with the exception of the fourth grader, the lessons were extremely weak and not very well planned.

The other thing that happened was that some of the other students were upset that they were not asked to participate, to the point that I had parents ask me if their child could join the groups.  My intention was to work with the students that easily understood the concepts taught in class and they could work on harder skills.  The whole process got very out of hand within a few weeks.

When I went in for my TLC, I was talking to Jon about everything and he gave me a much better idea.  Why not create a digital badge plan where every child could participate.  That way, all the students are given an opportunity to “enrich” their skills and they have to be self-motivated to complete the activities designed for each badge. When they finish each topic successfully, they earn a digital badge which will be displayed on their blogs.

This makes much more sense to me.  This way all students are able to participate, no exclusions.  More importantly, when the parents say their child needs more enrichment, I will have a plan in place, but it is up to the students to be motivated enough to work on the badges.





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January 2014
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