May 16, 2022

Personalizing Learning in Math (Part 2)

Students are working on challenging problems to wrap up the unit. The challenge motivates students to take ownership of their learning.

Feel free to take a look at part 1 of the article to see the learning that took place prior to today.

I step into Mrs. Verstreate’s 3rd bell, find a seat and tune in.

The student sitting behind me is giddy, “I’m ready for this,” she says. Mrs. Verstreate hasn’t even asked the students to do anything yet.  I read the board and turned around.

I ask, “I know you’re at the end of the unit, but are you saying you’re ready for the extensions?” 

Five students are locked into my question. One is grinning.  Another student pipes up, ““These are tough.”

Why the Fervor?

The challenge creates space where the four attributes of PL empower learners.

Voice and Co-Creation

  • Students get to choose which challenge problems they want to tackle.
  • Students get to select which quiz they want to prove greater mastery on after the challenge.     

Social Construction

  • I asked a student why they were grouping in the back of the room, “We’re collaborating,” he told me.
  • Students are allowed to talk to others about the challenges in the back of the room.  They are only allowed to take the blank challenge sheet, this results in productive dialogue:

“I need to talk to you again.”       “So, what I did was…”        “You could try…”

                 “What you need to find is…”        “How could the radius be used here?”

Self Discovery

  • Consider the feedback quoted above. I noticed students using different styles of providing feedback
  • Creating moments where students can reflect on their “style” promotes self awareness which can impact future learning decisions.

Questions for Reflection:

When have you thrived amidst a challenge? When has a challenge overwhelmed you?

What do you rely on when working on something challenging?

How might a challenge deepen learning?

What are various ways to challenge and support all learners?


Joe Muhlberg

Joe Muhlberg is a Learning Experience Designer at Mason High School.

View all posts by Joe Muhlberg →

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