Sep 09 2016

Q&A: Stephanie Shaw Creates Personalized Learning with Technology

The North Carolina fourth grade teacher discusses how technology has helped her students take charge of their learning experience.

Personalization is a hot topic in the education world because it increases student agency and empowers them to learn in their own way. At Mooresville Intermediate School, fourth grade teacher Stephanie Shaw has seen increased engagement — and improved test scores — in her class since adding personalization to the way she teaches.

Shaw has used Google Docs, Sheets and Forms to help her students personalize their learning paths. By creating videos that show how to solve a particular math problem or apply a grammar rule, Shaw says she is able to assist each of her students on an individual level by determining what they are struggling with and allowing them to use the classroom technology to remediate it.

Because of her innovative work, Shaw was named Teacher of the Year at the North Carolina school. This year, she also presented her personalized learning program during the district professional development seminar.

EdTech: Focus on K–12 spoke with Shaw to learn how she uses classroom technology to personalize learning and improve student achievement.

EDTECH: Why do you find personalization to be important?

SHAW: A significant part of my class is made up of struggling learners. One student might be at a sixth grade math level while another is struggling with mastering the third grade level. It was overwhelming. I wanted to try to find a way to meet needs without losing my mind because I have so many students. I’m not doing a lot of fancy, technology projects. I’m using technology to personalize learning.

We are really just trying to help kids take responsibility for their own learning by knowing what it is they need to work on. For every single goal that we track using technology, we also have a way to reteach it, remediate and retest it using technology.

EDTECH: Mooresville Graded School District has one-to-one computing in grades 4 through 12. How do you use this technology to help personalize your classroom?

SHAW: We use Google Docs and Sheets as a way to track data. After we teach a specific skill, we test it and remediate it. The kids fill in a spreadsheet with their scores. It’s really simple, just two columns. When a kid puts in a 50, it turns red. When a kid puts in a 70, it turns yellow. It’s a great visual reminder of what they needed to work on.

Also, with quizzes in Google Forms, you can set it up so if the student gets a wrong answer, a video comes up to show them how to solve that problem.

Videos are my favorite tool for remediation. I make my own videos through Educreations and ShowMe. I also like PlayPosit and EdPuzzle because you can embed quizzes in the video, and the data is sent to you while the student watches the video.

The bottom line is that I want to work with students. Technology allows me to be in multiple places at a time.

EDTECH: How have you shared what you’ve learned about personalized learning through technology?

SHAW: Technology is wonderful. One of the main reasons it increases student achievement is because it makes things easier to share. I can create something and then just by sharing one link, hundreds of kids can benefit.

On my hallway, we share everything. My personalization program was sharable with one single link to everybody on my hallway. Now everybody can use the same document to reteach things to their students.

Digital Vision./Thinkstock

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