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How to create effective individual education plans with itslearning

Individual learning plans help students better understand and take responsibility for their learning, but how can you make them work for your students?

According to research by Professor John Hattie at the University of Auckland, one of the most important factors in successful education is ‘self-reporting’, which Hattie defines as the student’s ability to understand what she is doing and explain it, as well as any gaps in her understanding, to her teacher.

Monika SolvigMonika Solvig, a teacher at Hop Secondary School in Norway, uses the individual learning plans in itslearning to promote self-reporting among her students. How does she do it?

A five-step approach to individual education plans

According to Monika, the key word in successful individual learning plans is ‘reflection’ – and she uses a five-step approach to give her students a central role.

#1 Monika uses the curriculum to create concrete goals that her students can import into their individual learning plans. The students choose which goals to focus on using feedback from previous work.

#2 The students establishes a concrete plan for achieving each goal – and put regular updates in their individual learning plans.

#3 Monika – and the student’s parents if they desire – check the students’ progress regularly, adding comments or questions to encourage reflection.

#4 When a student reaches a goal, she documents her success in her ePortfolio, reflecting on how she got there and what she achieved. Again, Monika may add comments to encourage further reflection.

5# Monika has an individual learning plan conversation with each student every semester. Ideally, the student should lead the meeting, showing her achievements and laying out her goals for the next semester. Monika also invites parents to a meeting with the student each semester.

Do individual learning plans work?

“It’s actually very difficult to document the effect of individual learning plans,” says Monika. “But general research shows that reflection on your own learning works – and individual learning plans help with this process. Perhaps our best evidence comes from parents whose children have moved onto upper secondary school. They can see how useful the reflective skills developed through individual learning plans are when their children have to take more responsibility for their education.”

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