Students and teachers at Connect Charter School have focused on creating Student Learner Profiles (SLP) for the past few years. More recently, at Connect, these SLP’s have become a more significant focus. In the spirit of Personalized Learning from the Inspiring Action on Education, SLP’s are gaining momentum in Alberta. See http://education.alberta.ca/teachers/aisi/themes/personalized-learning-.aspx for more information on this provincial initiative.
With greater time and attention being placed on SLP’s, it is important for us to have discussions regarding the ways they might inform and impact learning at our school. Over the course of the past few years, each grade has explored a variety of platforms to house these profiles. In our second blog post, we will further discuss the strengths and limitations of some of the platforms available, but first we would like to discuss what a Student Learner Profile (SLP) is and why they are important.
What Is It?
We often hear Student Learner Profiles and Portfolios being used in conversation synonymously and we think it is important to determine differences between profiles and portfolios. Although the concepts and key characteristics may overlap, a portfolio is a showcase of a student’s best work, whereas a profile is a place to document learning. A Student Learner Profile is a living document engaging students, parents, and teachers in the process and growth of students and their learning. Exploring who we are can help us use our strengths, yet also build upon areas for improvement. At Connect Charter School some of the things we consider when creating and working on our SLP’s are personality of the student, their preferences, needs, strengths, interests, literacy, culture, language, the people you surround yourself with, family, the way you think, as well as likes and dislikes. All of the preceding shape and inform who one is as a learner at any particular time and place.
How We Do It?
Students can gather information about themselves as learners through inventories, questionnaires, assessments, reflections, class work, and extracurricular involvement. Part of the SLP process is determining what is important to take from the information gathered and how it might affect how one learns. Through this process, students can make purposeful connections with the Exemplary Learning Framework that informs much of what we do at Connect.
Why We Do It?
Gathering evidence and documenting the growth of the learner and their process of learning is a critical part of understanding oneself. A profile can show growth because it is a living document responding to the changes in and throughout a student’s education and life experiences. With this, students have the opportunity to build capacity, understand what they need, and begin to advocate for themselves and their own learning. Furthermore, teachers can use the information gathered to respond more effectively to learner needs. For example, when planning, teachers use this information in purposeful implementation of differentiated strategies. It also has potential to unite students, parents, and teachers with a common purpose.