As an eGrowe Coach for engage2learn, I am afforded the opportunity to meet a diverse range of educators who teach different grade levels and content areas, and who have varying years of experience within education. In my first coaching sessions with teachers, I always take the time to get to know them, understand their context, and get a feel for their areas of strength and areas of growth. Most often teachers feel they are strong in standard alignment or establishing a classroom culture where students feel heard, but they reflect on feeling overwhelmed by the vast range of levels their students are at and differentiating to meet their needs in order to address student gaps in learning.
Every educator is no stranger to how daunting differentiating for learners can be. It was one of the main things that I myself felt was overwhelming when designing lessons. So, how do we plan differentiated and engaging lessons when each student needs their own individualized pathway?
The Myth of Average
One of my favorite TedTalks is called The Myth of Average and was delivered by Todd Rose. In it, he tells a story of how years ago the cockpit of fighter jets were designed to fit the average fighter pilot. Although designing for the average pilot seemed right, it in fact was proved just the opposite by Gilbert Daniels. In Daniels’ study on over 4,000 pilots, he found that out of those 4,000 pilots none of them met the measurements for average–not even one!
This is the same challenge we often find ourselves in as educators. When designing lessons we often design for the average learner who is able to learn and complete work at an the average rate. This leads to classrooms where learners are expected to progress through their learning at the same rate and completing the same work. Basically we design classrooms thinking learning looks like this…
But this is seldom ever the case. Learners start out at various levels of mastery and make progress toward mastery at different rates as well. In his TedTalk, Rose proposes a rather simple solution: “ban the average” and “design to the edges.” What if as educators we could intentionally design lessons that accounted for the natural flow of learning in a classroom full of students on the edges?
A Learning Management System that Bans the Average
When the team at engage2learn began designing indipath, we wanted to take these ideas of banning the average and designing to the edges to provide a learning management system that could change the natural flow of learning and build learner agency.
Most learning management systems are designed to the average, where teachers can post student work and resources in a fashion that is best tailored to the average student. Students log on, they see their list of classwork, and they all work through that work at the same rate.
With indipath, differentiation begins with the design process directly in the teacher interface so that teachers can design to the edges. The design process gets teachers thinking about scaffolding the learning so that students initiating their learning, exceeding their learning, and all points in between are covered. The indipath app then serves as a tool during facilitation that supports learner agency through goal-setting, tracking of progress towards mastery, and assessment. In other words, it’s a learning management system that’s designed specifically to help teachers differentiate instruction to mitigate learning gaps and build learner agency by supporting students navigating their individual pathway!
Why indipath is Great for Young Learners
Another thing that educators have found challenging especially in the last year is using a learning management system that young learners can utilize. When developing the app we wanted to ensure that specific features were included that would support young learners. The iPad includes accessibility features, and we’ve leveraged these within the app to support students like speech to text, text to speech, and Spanish language support. An additional accessibility feature we’ve included is the ability for learners to share learning through video.
It’s difficult for young learners to be focused online all the time. Through the student to-do list within the learner app, students can track their learning whether the task is digital or a kinesthetic activity. The “add evidence of learning” feature provides a way learners can choose an activity on their to-do list such as counting to ten using manipulatives, record their performance, and submit it into the app. Through video learners can perform kinesthetic opportunities, not be tied to their device, and still track that progress of their learning using the app.
When Mission Matters Most
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to work with engage2learn, chances are you’ve heard about our mission. We are working to help the neighborhood public school be the first choice for every family! Our mission is what inspires us to hustle every day and compels us to be strategic to ensure the intended impact of our partners is achieved. This is what compelled us to intentionally build and design an LMS that makes it easier for educators to meet the diverse needs of learners today. We wanted to provide a learning management system that mitigates learning loss and supports building learner agency, and you can do just that by using indipath as your “fighter jet” solution.If you’re curious to see how indipath can help you “design for the edges,” be sure to request a demo today.