Blended and Personalized Learning Conference: ready to explore!


Tomorrow, two NYCDOE teachers will join hundreds of educators and stakeholders convening in Providence to explore and elevate personalized learning.

Ross Berman and Melissa Aguirre teach at MS 217 Robert A. Van Wyck School in Queens. They have been peer leaders in blended learning practices to serve all of their students, particularly their large population of English Language Learners.

As they prepare to attend the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference, they share these thoughts with their fellow teachers…

Ross: I am extremely excited to attend the Blended and Personalized Learning Conference. For the last few years I have been working in my classroom to create a personalized learning environment for my students. Strategies that have worked well are allowing students more access to my class content online using Google Classroom and the other gSuite for Education tools and giving them space to collaborate in flexible seating arrangements. The area I need most help with is tracking student data and activities when each student is doing something different. I am in search of new ideas for how to do this and hope to speak to other teachers to learn best practices.  


Personalized Learning is important because it gives every student an opportunity to improve. If a student has already mastered a concept, he or she should not have to wait to continue learning. If a student is struggling, he or she should be able to work to overcome the challenge. I am looking forward to connecting with other teachers and companies to learn more ways to best personalize learning for my students.  


Solving equations in Ross’s math class


Melissa: Teaching has compelled me to adapt to new ages, new languages, and new methods. For instance, as someone who began her career in education through social services—and held a deep appreciation for people’s stories—I sometimes rejected the use of technology on the grounds that it was impersonal. I have evolved my practice to welcome technology as a humanizing tool; we recently affirmed this notion when my students and I participated in a virtual game about empathy called Face the Future sponsored by Facing History & Ourselves and Institute for the Future.  


At the upcoming Blended & Personalized Learning Conference I look forward to expanding my grasp on how technology can help students navigate these precarious times in our country. Whether it be helping students develop greater empathy for other citizens; refining their media literacy skills; or practicing critical thinking to evaluate claims and relevant evidence, I am interested to learn what tools have been developed to help students apply these important skills to grapple with the issues facing us today.


In addition, as an educator who works with new arrivals, I am always excited to learn how the ed tech industry is keeping up with the needs of this population, including the needs of students who lack proficiency in their native language. They will need personalized products that help them acquire reading and writing in their native language and apply this understanding to their new target language.


Follow Saturday’s conference with us @innovatenycedu live on twitter, #BPLC17. and check back to our blog to read more from Ross and Melissa.