Personalised learning allows students to learn and develop at their own pace, and gives them a better and thorough understanding of the curriculum.

Bernadette Adams – Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education – has shared four pointers to help teachers personalise their students’ learning experience.

1. Set aside “genius hours”

A “fundamental” aspect of personalised learning is tapping “into learner interests and experiences, making learning more engaging and relevant”, she wrote in a blog. One way to do this is by setting aside time each week where students can explore their passions, which the Department has termed “genius hours”.

For instance, students in a school in Tennessee used their time to investigate why golf balls have dimples, and how life differs for people in Iceland.

2. Instill ownership in students

Students can be given authority to choose their preferred method of learning. Instilling ownership in students empowers “them to become learners alongside their students in the classroom”, she explains.

For example, teachers can let them choose their preferred method of learning, such as through video or text; allow them authority over when tests can be taken; and even partner with students to define personalised learning objectives.

3. Carve out customised and individual learning plans

Teachers can also motivate their students by coming up with learning plans that include both short-term and long-term goals.

Teachers can then meet students at regular intervals to discuss their progress, adjust and adapt their learning plans to their needs and pace.

Students from Summit Public Schools, for instance, connect to their personalised learning plans through their mobile devices. The platform pulls together short and long-term project goals, the materials required to complete their projects, and feedback on how they can improve their learning.

Automated and real-time feedback can also motivate students to learn, the Department believes. Through the platform, students can check their own progress, where each project is linked to the standard knowledge content required, and improve accordingly.

4. Inculcate a ‘growth mindset’

Students should shift their mindset from simply getting good grades, to mastering a subject. This is where they “understand that their intelligence grows with their effort, good strategies, and help from others”, it adds, and can be “explicitly taught and instilled by teachers”.

For example, “teachers can frame assessment activities, explain why learning can be challenging, or explicitly model and instruct learners” to show initiative in learning, it says.

“When I go into a classroom, I don’t see a teacher standing there lecturing,” Daryl Adams, Superintendent for Coachella Valley Unified School District told the Office of Ed Tech.

“I see activity. I see students collaborating”.