10 Steps to Creating Personalized Learning Plans for Students

Nov 16, 2023
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Creating unique student profiles, known as personalized learning plans or PLPs, for each of your students has obvious benefits. It allows you to customize the learning experience for each student based on their individual characteristics, needs, and goals.

However, creating a personalized learning plan is not enough. You also need to know how to implement it effectively, which is a more complex and challenging task. You need to follow some steps to make sure that the personalized learning plan is aligned with the curriculum standards, the student’s interests and preferences, and the available resources and tools. You also need to monitor and adjust the personalized learning plan as the student progresses and learns.

Check out a preview of all 10 steps below, or download the full how-to guide, complete with interactive planning worksheets.

1. Define your starting point

How do you know where you’re going if you’re not sure where you started? That is the basic premise behind assessments that aim to benchmark or diagnose learning. After administering your assessment of choice, review and discuss the results to define your spring board toward academic growth and achievement for each student.

2. Set goals

Goals are a powerful tool that can focus our efforts in a specific direction. However, the ability to create and follow achievable goals does not come naturally; it is something that must be learned. You can help your students attain this critical skill by modeling how to set and work toward specific goals, helping them develop strategies to overcome challenges along the way.

3. Map learning modalities

Considering each child has unique needs, providing differentiated instruction is one of the most effective ways to help students make necessary learning gains. Although taking the time to determine their ideal learning modality may seem like a luxury, it is well worth the effort. As you start to get a pulse on each student be sure to record their preferences for reference during instructional planning. Also, it’s important to communicate your observations with students to help them understand their personal learning needs.

4. Appeal to student interests

Incorporating students’ interests, passions, and hobbies into your instruction is a great way to make students feel like their voice is being heard. Additionally, it helps connect classroom learning to the real world around them. Spend time getting to know your students as individuals, and make a conscious effort to weave in some of those themes into your regular instruction and interactions.

5. Teach students how to track

Research shows that having students track their own progress against goals results in greater gains toward reaching them. Allow students to take ownership of their performance and internalize success by incorporating tracking tools into classroom activities. What should be tracked? Consider objective mastery percentages, unit test scores, or reading level growth to name just a few options.

6. Refine areas of focus

By utilizing their own tracker information, students can identify specific learning gaps they have and can begin actively addressing them. This allows learners to refine their areas of focus into meaningful, achievable goals. Ensure students are able to verbalize specific steps toward success so they begin to internalize the process.

7. Assess for learning

Utilize formative assessments combined with reoccurring check-ins to plot student progress and growth points. During one-on-one discussions of assessment outcomes, it is essential to put progress vs. achievement in perspective, so students feel capable of persevering through the tough spots. Continually chart growth metrics while also celebrating milestones on their path toward achievement to keep spirits high.

8. Build a dialogue

Help your students become self-reflective learners by engaging in ongoing conversations and check-ins. Use one-on-one sessions to provide feedback, reflect on aspirations, and offer encouragement. Allow students to take ownership of their growth by posing questions like “how were you able to make those gains in learning?” or “tell me about recent achievements you’ve made.”

9. Compile a student profile

Student profiles are an important tool to show progress over time. Before diving into creating this portfolio of work however, take time to determine the purpose and audience you hope to meet, such that the end result is more than a bursting collection of various assignments. Help students take an active role in the process by encouraging them to select which pieces to include, thus allowing them to showcase their proudest achievements.

10. Share and Repeat

Unfortunately, PLPs aren’t something you can just create and file on a shelf. They are powerful tools when used regularly. Use PLPs to keep parents and other key stakeholders involved with their students’ education, communicating both progress and setbacks along the way. Additionally, it’s important to revisit and revise plans as needed. Goals and learning abilities change, so should your plan for learning.

Ready to take the plunge? Download our complete 10-step How-to Guide to Creating Personalized Learning Plans for helpful guiding questions, real examples, and an interactive planning worksheet. Or, check out Edmentum's K–12 diagnostic-driven, direct-instruction program, Exact Path!

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