How Does Personalized Literacy Benefit Your Diverse Students?

As an educator who has worked in a variety of school settings, I have seen the positive impact of providing my students opportunities to make their own choices about their reading. America’s schools have an extremely culturally and linguistically diverse student population. With millions of students coming from a range of backgrounds, a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching is no longer a reality in our classrooms. It’s estimated that nearly 50% of students have some sort of learning diversity that impacts how they learn best, whether SES, diagnosed disability, learning difference, ELL, or high ability. I know that I, along with my former teaching colleagues, played a tremendous role in student achievement, and as educators, we need to be aware of our student’s backgrounds, culture, and language, so we can understand the learning styles and needs of learners in our classrooms.

Ways to Embed Personalized Learning in Diverse Learning

Educators need resources that foster personalized learning opportunities for students and allow instruction to meet the pace of learners. Personalized learning that is connected to each individual’s development, background, interests, and experience can support educators by empowering learners as individuals. Personalized learning offers a path to effectively support the growing diversity of America’s population of students by understanding how individual students learn best and motivating them with just-right resources at the right time and pace. When implemented purposefully, educational technology can be a powerful tool to increase student engagement, allow learners to set goals and view their growth in real time, and provide opportunities for students to collaborate with peers using multiple language domains.

By better understanding different learning modalities, we can support a growing population of diverse learners by embedding personalized learning into the instructional framework as part of the curriculum. We can support personalized literacy for our diverse learners by:

-Offering more choice and personalized options in reading, including how they experience text.

-Using digital literacy platforms, like myON, to provide scaffolds and supports such as naturally recorded audio narration, word and sentence level highlighting, annotation and text coding tools, and an embedded dictionary.

-Engaging students with project-based learning experiences that allow them to choose the pace of their learning and the path towards completion.

We know that learning extends far beyond the school day and we must provide students avenues to continue their learning outside of school hours. As our students become increasingly diverse in linguistics, culture, geography, and socioeconomics, we can use technology to customize learning for each student and provide students feedback about their growth over time. 

Questions to Ask as Educators

As educators, take time to reflect on your current classroom literacy practices. Are you providing enough opportunities for choice (both print and digital) amongst your students? Do they have time to converse with each other about their reading using different language domains? Do the technology tools in your classroom allow for personalized literacy across content areas? 

Caroline Marandino

Caroline Marandino is an educational consultant for myON. She has over a decade of experience as a former reading specialist and elementary classroom teacher. Caroline also holds an educational administrative license.