Personalizing Learning through Flexible Time and Student Groupings

Personalizing Learning through Flexible Time and Student Groupings

Personalized learning is a broad approach to teaching and learning that many schools aim for. It can take on many forms: students might have voice and choice in what they learn and how they learn it; teachers might recognize that students have different needs and learn at different paces; students might be given more opportunities to reflect on their learning and determine their next steps. While all of these strategies are incredibly important and certainly help personalize learning, they often still take place within structured timetables and fixed class rosters.

But why do all students have to attend the same amount of class time each year, even though we know students learn at different paces? Why don’t we give students more voice and choice in how they spend their school days? How might we maximize the impact of personalized learning by being more flexible in our use of time and student groupings?

In this session, participants will explore ways in which they might make timetables and rosters be more flexible and responsive to students’ needs. Operating with the belief that students learn at different paces, and that students should have voice and choice in how they spend their time, participants in this session will learn ways that they can carve time into the school day that are focused on learning. Rather than having time be dedicated to math, reading, or social studies, these flexible blocks of time can be personalized to students’ unique needs.

Session Audience:

Elementary, Middle school, High school, Curriculum leaders, School leaders, Whole school / anyone

Session Goals:

  • Discover opportunities for learning and student agency created by being more flexible in time and student groupings.

  • Understand what a flex block is and its many possible iterations, ranging from being more teacher-directed to more student-directed, and with more structure and less structure.

  • Consider the conditions necessary to flex schedules and student groupings, and how teachers, teams, and students might build the capacity to implement them.

Session Outcomes:

  • Analyze their/their team’s readiness for being more flexible with time and student groupings

  • Create an action plan to implement more flexible scheduling and student grouping in their own classroom or school

  • Build another mindset and strategy to their personalized learning toolkit!

Presenter Bio:

I am a passionate educator who believes that when we give students more control over their learning, they achieve more and have more fun while they’re at it. I previously taught 6th grade math in a flexible, interdisciplinary environment, and this year, I am teaching in an innovative year-long program for 11th and 12th grade students that personalizes learning through interdisciplinary units in a flexible timetable called Quest. I am currently pursuing my Doctor of Education through the University of Southern California, in which I am focusing on the flexible use of time, space, and student groupings. In the little spare time I have, I maintain an Instagram account dedicated to food, travel, and credit card points, @teachingpoints.