Image accessed from Cultural Organizing:

In the field of education we have heard the term “personalized learning” quite often. The concept can be broken down into many different meanings and, in fact, there are whole cohorts in our district and nationwide dedicated to seeing the advancement of “PL” as they call it. In our district we have come up with these 4 cornerstones and I will reference them in this reflection.

Essentially, what PL boils down to is meeting the needs of each individual student to ensure success. We have all seen the following cartoon. As a teacher it is our responsibility to differentiate in order to meet our individual students’ needs. This is a laborious process but can be made easier with inquires and soooo worth it when you see your students become engaged, growing, and successful.

Utilizing inquires has helped me “personalize” in ways I never fathomed. Below are the ways inquiry has helped me in each of the 4 cornerstones Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has developed:

  • Paces, Playlists and Pathways:
    • I first started with creating a blendspace playlist for each student to work through the primary and secondary sources at their own pace regarding the supporting questions. These are provided in the inquires, so that part is easy: just upload them. I then created “hint” stations around the room if they needed extra support on a particular source. While my kids were working through them, I was able to pull small groups to discuss some of the sources and work with my students in a more personalized setting. It was amazing to see my students who are of various different reading levels be able to grapple with the text and be engaged in the supporting questions. This led to amazing academic conversations.
  • Student Ownership:
    • Students got to “pick” the medium in which they demonstrated the Summative Performance Task and each student was given a general rubric so they knew what to include. Students were excited to participate and show their work to an audience, not just me. With 180 students this would take too much time to do individually so I split up my class in half and had students circle the room, much like an interactive museum gallery, in which they could view each other’s work. They had celebration cards where students could make comments on aspects of the work they enjoyed. After this, students were assigned a buddy to complete a critical peer review of the performance task using a rubric. This gave them an opportunity to receive constructive feedback and seek improvement on their work.
  • Mastery
    • As students received their constructive feedback they could then make the changes they needed before submitting to me. Many students took this opportunity and showed growth. I also found that students were more apt to remember the concepts and knowledge because they have seen so many different representations of it through the museum gallery activity. For example, students saw paintings, models, presentations, iMovies, etc. all based on the performance task.
  • Whole Child
    • Last, but for me not least, is how inquires affected my students’ character. Part of the C3 inquires are the “Take Informed Action (TIA)” piece. This is vital because now instead of my students becoming just “clouds” of information it pushes them to think about what they can do with this new knowledge. “Be the Change You Want to See in the World.” This quote from Gandhi hangs on my wall in my classroom and this is what I desire for all my students is to utilize the knowledge they gain “in their cloud” to make informed decisions and to problem solve. This part of the inquiry framework encourages active citizenship or in other words to “be the change.” Students then see why their learning matters and connects it to their world. It challenges them to make the world in which they reside whether big or small, city or rural, a better place. It helps them become confident because when they do something that helps others they become proud of themselves and thus enjoy learning. I always highlight this by asking students to take pictures of themselves taking informed action (TIA) so I can share with my school administrators, who can highlight it on our school’s Facebook page.

As you can see the C3 inquiry framework helped me personalize my classroom and can help you as well. Wishing you all the best on your inquiry journey. Feel free to contact me with any questions/concerns.