7 Step Diet Plan and Personalized Learning
I lost 50 lbs in one year following this diet plan, utilizing this personalized learning framework I developed. It works for diets, but it also works for learning.
I didn’t know where to start with my diet. I’d never done one before. So I spent a lot of time reading everything I could about diets. I soon realized that there was too much information and there were no silver bullets. There were a lot of products that disguised themselves as silver bullets. Does this sound familiar for education?
When following this plan, you have to do all 7 steps, not any less. The 7 steps for a diet or for personalized learning are:
- Goal setting
- Celebrating Success
- Seeking Expertise
#1 Goal Setting
- What I did for my diet: Set a specific and realistic goal. I set 30 lbs, but lost 50 lbs. I calculated that I could realistically lose 1-1.5 lbs a week. Any more would be a stretch.
- What students can do for learning: Students can set meaningful goals for themselves. Not just “I’m going to get an A”, but something like “I want to learn coding so that I can develop a game”.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Help students calibrate goals so the goals are reasonably challenging is difficult. Students need to be challenged, but also understand why they can achieve their goals. To do this, teachers really need to know every student.
- How this ties to personalized learning: Personalization requires certain data points for it to work. You can’t personalize to anonymous. Setting goals for each person is the first step.
- What I did for my diet: I did a lot of research on different diets and exercise strategies. There’s a tremendous amounts of stuff on the internet about diets and it’s hard to figure out “what works”. I also spoke to people and learned about their approach. Doing the research helped me evaluate what might work for me.
- What students can do for learning: There’s too much material on the internet on every topic. The key for students is to learn how to search and synthesize information. The initial research may not make a lot of sense or feel chaotic. The key is learning how to organize this information.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Students need guidance on how to do the research. Offer them a diverse set of options and strategies. Students need to understand how skills develop and how to develop the skill of being a good researcher. I think about Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid and how he learned to wax on and wax off before he could move on to something more complicated.
- How this ties to personalized learning: Personalization requires three steps: 1) students need to provide inputs which generate data 2) actions by the teacher need to be tailored by using these inputs 3) students need choices based upon these inputs.
- What I did for my diet: I counted calories, recorded by exercises (including calories burned, heart rate), and measured progress daily and weekly. In the beginning, counting calories was really hard as it wasn’t intuitive nor was I fluent in estimating calories, but over time it became easier.
- What students can do for learning: Setting a goal that is challenging, but not unattainable, is an art. Students need milestones to show progress. Micro-goals need to be tweaked as you get more information, but macro-goals shouldn’t change.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Assessment is one type of measurement. However, we all know that there are other important things to measure. Teachers can help students prioritize metrics and goals.
- How this ties to personalized learning: There are two things which make personalization a positive experience: 1) a clear path to your goal and an understanding of the milestones toward the goal 2) a feedback loop and reflection that validates your path or any required course correction.
- What I did for my diet: I started telling people what I was doing and finding friends with similar goals.
- What students can do for learning: Student can collaborate in two ways: 1) with other students who are more advanced in the topic - this helps students learn faster and avoid common pitfalls 2) with other students who are less advanced by teaching them what they are learning as this reinforces their knowledge.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Teachers can create and organize groups so students have opportunities to collaborate at all levels. Teachers can also help students understand what effective collaboration looks like. Often we expect students to collaborate without demonstrating effective collaboration.
- How this ties to personalized learning: In order for personalization to be meaningful, it requires: 1) developing self-worth through teaching others and collaboration 2) having aspirations and role models to know what is possible.
#5 Celebrating Success
- What I did for my diet: I would reward myself when I achieved milestones. Sometimes I would do it privately and other times I would do it more publicly. When I lost 1 lb, I rewarded myself privately. When I lost 20 lbs, I wanted to share this with everyone.
- What students can do for learning: Students have two levels of recognition: 1) they want to see individual growth; 2) when appropriate, they want to be recognized for their achievements relative to others.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Develop routines to recognize students 1:1. Also take the time to recognize students in front of others. There are many classroom systems which can support both types of success celebrations.
- How this ties to personalized learning: Personalization was valuable when it helped me increase the progress at which I realized my goals, but so was the recognition of my successes. Students also need a personalized reward system which gives them some choice around when to share their accomplishments.
#6 Seeking Expertise
- What I did for my diet: I hired a trainer and took group classes once a week. I also spoke with everyone I could about their fitness plans. My trainers provided the necessary expertise but also made sure that I performed exercises effectively and without injury.
- What students can do for learning: Students seek expertise in multiple ways - searching the internet, collaborating with peers, and working with adults. The challenge is making sure that students have the right level of prior knowledge to engage at the right level.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Great teachers can engage students at the right level and at the appropriate degree of difficulty. They are constantly trying to maximize the Zone of Proximal Development.
- How this ties to personalized learning: One goal of personalization is to maximize learning so that you don’t go over things you already know and don’t stuck on learning plateaus. Whether it’s software-based or a teacher, we all want to learn at a continuous pace. Getting targeted expertise will clear any roadblocks on your path to your learning goal.
- What I did for my diet: I lost the weight. That’s one of the nice things about dieting - you know when you have achieved what you set out to do. I exceeded my goal of losing 30 lbs. I ended up losing 50 lbs and 10 percentage points in body fat. As soon as I achieved these goals, I started to set new goals to keep the momentum going.
- What students can do for learning: As students achieve their goals, they will develop renewed confidence and engagement which will lead to new goals being set. If they were to never achieve their goals they would be frustrated but by doing all of the above, they set themselves up to succeed.
- What teachers can do for teaching: Teachers can not only support the achievements of their students, but their own achievements as well. Learning to teach in a new way is a big deal and as their students start to achieve more, teachers will similarly feel a sense of accomplishment and be able to set new goals for themselves.
- How this ties to personalized learning: Personalized learning is not just positive in and of itself. It is a good thing to do because it increases student achievement against important metrics like test scores, engagement, and preparation for college and career. Achieving, and then reaching for ways to do even more, is how students will learn more, in a more accelerated and deeper way
Finally, the dials below illustrate where I focused my effort at the beginning of my plan versus towards the end of my plan. In the beginning, I had to put more effort more on developing knowledge and monitoring my progress. Towards the end of the plan, I started calibrating and creating new milestones based upon area of strength and improvement.
Want to learn more about personalized learning?
Download the Personalized Learning Playbook, your ultimate guide for Why The Time is Now... and How to Do It
About Anthony Kim
Anthony is the author of "Personalized Learning Playbook, Why the Time is Now", and his new book, "The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools". He has contributed to many other publications on new school models including Lessons Learned from Blended Programs: Experiences and Recommendations from the Field. Anthony is a nationally recognized speaker on personalized learning and his work has been referenced by the Christensen Institute, iNACOL, EdSurge, CompetencyWorks, and numerous other research reports. His work includes partnering with districts across the country who are implementing personalized and blended learning through Education Elements. Beyond implementing personalized learning models, Anthony focuses his research on organizational design and culture of innovation at school districts. Though this research, he is currently working on a new book, called Responsive Ed, which bring self-organization strategies to districts so that they can be more responsive to the changing needs of the community. Anthony is a graduate of Cornell University and lives in San Francisco.