Setting SMART Goals with Students

A key part of the International Baccalaureate Learner Profile is that students are able to show independence in their learning and goal setting is a great way to promote this autonomy.

Continuous goal setting can support the development of inquiry-based learning, reflective thinking and self-assessment, all of which are key to successful individualized learning and contribute towards building a lifelong learner, as well as developing key skills for careers.

So how do we produce specific goals with students?

Outlining a SMART goal

SMART goals are made of five components – they should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This will help students of all ages get off to a good start with the school year or projects.

Start setting goals by encouraging students to consider their desired outcome. For example, this could be something like, “I am setting myself the goal of developing my communication skills as part of my PYP Exhibition.”

To make this a SMART goal, we need to enhance it. Factor in each of the components to create a more measurable outcome. For instance, “By the end of my PYP Exhibition on 18th May 2020, I will collaborate with one of my peers to develop my project and present my ideas to the class at least once.”

Writing SMART goals is a skill that needs to be learned, as we’ve touched on above with regards to individualized learning. But once it is and you have created them, you have a specific and measurable goal to help you succeed. Goals should be realistic – they’ll need timeframes and should be split into smaller, measurable goals so students can keep track of their attainment and make adjustments where necessary. So how do you set SMART goals with students?

Planning SMART goals in class

Planning SMART goals as a whole class is a great idea, particularly before a project or a task. Firstly, to plan for them, you could make students more aware of SMART goals and exactly what is needed to make them SMART, even if they already have some awareness of these. Talk with your class about the acronym and what each letter signifies. You can see our free resource in order to help you do this.

Now let’s compare goals. Why are some goals specific and why are some not? This is ideal in helping students distinguish between SMART and not so SMART goals, especially for those students who may still be struggling in understanding the differences.

Now get some paper and write out a mix of vague goals and SMART goals. Ask students to identify the SMART goals, and if they show that they are still not sure in understanding the differences between the two, talk them through the process of making a vague goal into a SMART one.

Let’s start writing SMART goals

Now, as a class, you can start writing SMART goals by creating a planning document with questions beside each component of the SMART goal.

After students have reviewed the planning document, they can then create a statement with their own SMART goals – it’s perfect for this!

You can display students’ SMART goals in the classroom or let them keep their goals for future reference – perhaps they’ll even be ideal for parents’ meetings too to reflect on them and how they have supported learning. You can even give this exercise to individual students too, if a student needs a little help with setting goals. This exercise is great in promoting motivation and independence, and giving you the information you need to produce individualized learning plans too!

How Personalized Learning Can Benefit Students

Classrooms are changing landscapes with education moving away from a single approach to a multiple approach setting, where teaching practice is used alongside technology and the individual learner becomes the focus where their needs are met. Personalized learning is a great way of achieving this.

What is personalized learning?

We’re sure that as teachers, you’ll have many different answers for this. However, we’ve created an infographic below about the student being at the centre of personalized learning so we can explore more about it – take a look.

Personalized Learning Infographic

So, when we look into this model further, with the student taking the focal point, it’s clear to see that the student takes a much more active role in their learning than in a traditional classroom system, which is how they benefit. Students self direct their learning more and further manage the tools and strategies they use to learn with and progress. But with this, we understand that teaching comes hand in hand, which is why talented and innovative teachers are instrumental in helping propel the learning forward.

Top tips for making personalized learning successful

With these main areas that help to make personalized learning successful, there are a few other components too, such as:

Check learning progress frequently

It’s important to know what is next. Compiling data points regularly that align with student growth is ideal for seeing where any intervention may be necessary but also identifying success.

Communicate with key people

It’s not just teachers that help with students meeting their goals, but parents and other stakeholders also. It may be a good idea to formulate some ideas for open communication that can happen throughout the day.

Feedback individually to students

You know your students more than anyone, and working with them individually can be really valuable. You probably have really busy schedules already, and we know this, but the time spent can benefit progress.

Curriculum paced to the right time and level

Choosing curriculum can be difficult but you must be confident in what you choose – it should be paced to your students’ needs and built in the right way for your teaching and students’ learning.

Anytime, anywhere access

Digital tools you provide need to have proof of success and a system that provides support to students so they are progressing with their learning wherever they are is beneficial.

Utilizing online tools

Technology is being used in the classroom more frequently now, but not all solutions are the same. Not only should technology be time saving for you, but it should also support learning experiences. What’s more, the right data from these needs to be put together – we explore this in our Top Tips on How Data Supports Personalized Learning blog.

Flexible learning environments

Learning shouldn’t be situated at one site. With technology being a fundamental concept to learning, this adds flexibility to suit individual preferences. Wherever learning occurs, a personalized approach should be adopted anywhere.

Personalized learning promotes fairness as they allow students to learn with opportunities that are adapted to their own needs. What’s more, it aims to help students achieve success as schools adopt the right tools to suit students. Lastly, it helps students with their freedom with learning as they can manage progress towards their own goals. Overall, the goal should always be to enable more effective learning.

4 Questions You Should Ask When Starting a Personalized Learning Program

‘Personalized learning’ has become a buzzword in the education world over recent years and, as such, has been given lots of attention, but a clear definition can still be difficult to come by. For teachers looking to implement a personalized learning approach in their school or classroom, knowing where to start can be very confusing. Plenty of research, the right conversations, and a clear plan are key to success, so before you embark on your own personalized learning journey, we’d recommend you start by asking yourself these four questions:

How do you define personalized learning?

If you were to ask the educational community “What is personalized learning?”, you’d probably get nearly as many answers as you have participants. The answers would probably include similar themes, but personalized learning, is well, personal by definition.

Personalized learning isn’t about implementing one-to-one devices or following specific curricula (although technology and curriculum certainly play a part). At its core, the approach is much more about allowing students to direct how they learn. In a personalized learning model, students have more autonomy. The teacher’s role is not to push ideas; it’s to facilitate the learning process for each child and their unique needs.

How much freedom is too much?

When the overall goal is student autonomy, there’s a natural level of freedom that comes with that. But it can be daunting for teachers to give up control in their classroom. So, what level of control are you comfortable handing over to students?

There is no right or wrong answer here, just a best answer for you and your students.

Personalized learning can work for you, no matter your starting point. Ultimately, it’s about giving students options about what they study, how they go about learning, and what kind of work they want to produce. You can still control what the day’s schedule looks like, set parameters around the most appropriate use of time, and direct how your students interact with each other. In that respect, a personalized learning approach will not be that different from traditional classroom management practices. Just be prepared to provide students with more of a framework, and fewer step-by-step instructions.

What resources are available?

In most successful personalized learning classrooms, technology plays a major role. Online programs and devices can inform instruction, shape curriculum, and scaffold lessons. This can be a great benefit to teachers, as it frees up time, which they can spend working closely with students.

But not everyone has these technology resources at their disposal. And, to offer an authentic personalized learning experience, you have to think beyond technology. Therefore, the onus is on you to think of creative ways to use all of the resources you have to identify your students’ strengths, weaknesses, and preferences, and to build them into your lesson plans. You’re certainly capable of it – after all, teachers are pros at doing a lot with a little. It’s all about evolving the way that you plan; it may take more time and effort at first, but with practice it will get easier.

What kind of support system do you have?

It’s worth saying again that making the switch to a personalized learning model is a huge undertaking. It’s complicated, multi-faceted, and often ambiguous. Adopting the approach takes a willingness to experiment, to face failure, and may require you to make many changes to your approach before you find one that works. Having other teachers to bounce ideas off is invaluable. So, before you dive into a personalized initiative, take stock of your professional network. Do you know other teachers – whether in your building, your broader community, or online – who are already using the approach, or are also interested in embarking on it? If your network is lacking, there’s no need to worry. Look into professional development opportunities within your area, start searching for teacher blogs, or check out a Twitter chat. Teachers are an outstandingly collaborative group and learning from your peers will benefit you and your personalized learning program.

Ready to get started with personalized learning? Check out how Edmentum International’s solutions can support your initiative with diagnostic assessments, individualized learning paths, and meaningful student data!

Top Tips on How Data Supports Personalized Learning

The shift in education towards a more ‘personalized’ learning approach has changed the way that both educators and students look at teaching and learning. More and more educators have moved away from the traditional ‘stand and deliver’ approach to direct instruction and have instead opted for more data-driven instructional techniques that take into consideration the varied needs of the learner(s).

This focus on student data has helped educators craft more targeted lessons that not only take into consideration the students’ individual learning styles, interests and needs, but it has also created a culture shift for many schools who now focus on how to best gather and use student data to drive classroom instruction.

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with schools across the globe over the last seven years and I have seen this shift towards using data to support personalized learning first-hand. Throughout my hundreds of school/classroom visits, I have seen countless best practices on how student(s’) data can directly support personalized learning and inform good classroom instruction.

I would like to share with you three of the ‘top tips’ for how to use data to create a more personalized learning environment that I have seen in classrooms all across the world.

1. Use Student Data to Focus on the Future

Using student data to create unique instructional scope and sequences is a critical part of a successful personalized learning classroom. Gathering and interpreting data from your students should be done in a way that can help you as an educator not only spot areas that may need additional support, but also help you to inform what may need to be taught to your students next.

As you work to create your learning targets for the day, week and even the month, it is essential to take into consideration what data that you have from your students to inform what may need to be either taught or even re-taught next to ensure skill mastery. Many educators view student data as simply a ‘point in time’ in that students learning continuum, but by connecting those ‘points in time,’ you can start to plot a course for the future and how you want your instruction to guide your students moving forward.

2. Review Data Early and Often

Working to create a personalized learning environment is not like ‘switching on a lightbulb.’ It takes time and it needs to be informed by the students that you have within your classroom. This is why looking at relevant student data on a regular and predictable cadence is absolutely essential. The information that you can glean from formative and summative assessment data can directly affect the way that you orientate your classroom lessons. Reviewing student data is a process that can be made even more effective when working alongside colleagues or other grade-level team members.

Creating a formalized process for reviewing data such as a ‘PLC’ (Professional Learning Community) meeting can help you as a teacher gather other feedback about your students and enrich the quality and quantity of ideas on how to best leverage that data to inform your instructional techniques. Many PLC’s meet to review data on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to ensure that as they gather more data and feedback from students, they can then take that timely and relevant data and turn it into action within the classroom. Setting the expectation to review student data on a regular, predictable basis can have a dramatic effect on not only the way that educators drive instruction, but also the way that students learn within the classroom.

3. Connect Learners with Their Data

Too often I see educators working to pour over student data and make instructional decisions without involving the actual students whose data it is. Connecting students with their data is essential and can help motivate students and keep them engaged in their learning. Taking the time to not only look back at historical data with students, but also work with them to plot a course for where their instruction may go as a result of the data is in part what a personalized learning environment is all about.

Sharing data with students not only involves them even more in the teaching and learning process, but it also gives the students more of a voice in his/her learning and that degree of student agency can have a dramatic effect.

As you continue to cultivate and work towards a more personalized learning environment within your classroom, be sure to find ways to incorporate the use of student data in your teaching processes, as the end result is often a more successful and engaged learner.

Personalized Learning & Edtech Tools: How Teachers Can Influence the Purchasing Process

Have you ever been in a position where you’ve found an ideal edtech tool to support personalized learning in your classroom? It has the right data being captured that’s going to help you in your teaching, it has high-quality content but most significantly, it can improve your students’ learning experience.

Despite all this though, you’re not the one who makes the decisions on which tools to implement.

You also know that your school already has tools it can utilize. So how do you make an impact with this new tool and pitch it to your peers, as well as the person who has the power to make decisions on school resources? What will everyone be looking for? Plus, how do you show return on investment after purchasing so you can effectively implement the new tool in the long term?

Based on 50 years’ in the edtech business, and our individual employees’ first-hand experience as educators, we’ve pulled together some best practices to support you in building a plan to get buy-in with stakeholders.

Ask Questions & Research

So to start considering technology for personalized learning, we’d recommend asking some questions and researching. Bear in mind the 5Ws and consider each one in turn to influence the purchase. Break it down in this way:

  1. Who – who is this solution for? Specific students? A year group?
  2. What – what problem will this tool solve? What kind of research or Success Stories are there behind this tool?
  3. Where – where do you plan to implement this solution?
  4. When – when will this tool be in use? Home use? Class use?
  5. Why – why are we choosing this solution? Why will this have an impact in our school?

Next, you’ll need to consider your ‘how’ questions which stem from the questions above.

  • How is it going to provide teachers with evidence of student progress?
  • How are you going to evidence return on investment and value?
  • How is it well aligned to your school’s or students’ goals?
  • How will this tool make an impact on your teaching or save you time?
  • How will this tool help personalize learning?

These are the kinds of questions you’ll need to ask when you frame how new technology can benefit your students in terms of personalized learning.

So following from this, we’re now going to focus in on this further.

Consider Your School’s Broader Goals

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure you’re really making it clear how the solution supports all your teachers, not just yourself. Also, consider how it will impact your school environment and students’ progress. The simplest way to do this is to consider how this solution supports and will help your school’s major goals.

For instance, your school may have a goal to create personalized learning plans for every student. What challenges does your school face currently in achieving this goal? Maybe time, knowing what the gaps are in skills, resource and progress monitoring are all major factors that limit your ability to create these plans for students.

So how does this technology combat these challenges? How does it save time for teachers and administrators? What type of data does it provide? How does it help you see learning gaps? What does it provide to help fill those learning gaps? You’ll want to make a list of questions for further evaluation and use this information to build your groundswell of other influencers.

Get Agreement from Your Peers

Now you’ve asked the right questions, you’ve understood where the solution fits within your school’s broader initiatives, it’s time to get agreement. It’s best to gather a cross-functional group (different academic levels, subjects, etc.) and then make sure the need and desire for this solution resonates with others. Once this is done, you can connect with your stakeholders and ask for the opportunity to evaluate the proposed solution. Make sure you share feedback received from everyone else in the group you assembled to make the larger-scale need clear.

Here are some other members in school you may want to speak to and get agreement from when building consensus:

  • Principal/Assistant Principal/Headteacher
  • Technology Directors/Specialists
  • Instructional Coaches
  • Department Leads/Heads
  • Guidance Counselors
  • Interventionists
  • Alternative Education Specialists

Consider Time

Let’s now explore how we can help with teachers’ time and how the solution can help. An example of this would be where a school gives an assessment at the beginning of the year and once the results come back, teachers spend a certain amount of time on putting data together grouping students in ability levels for skills. Following this process, these groups are re-looked at many times which naturally takes time. So if you found a solution that could streamline this process, you could see the amount of time spent and show a funding impact from that perspective, which will help your buy-in.

As a teacher however, you need to keep in mind that you are at the front-line of education. You know what your students need best and stakeholders know this. When you clearly articulate what those student needs are and put them forward to stakeholders taking all larger goals into account, you’ll find you have more influence than you think. So when it comes to trying to get the best tools for your classroom, remember that you’re the biggest advocate – for you and your students.

Take a look at our personalized learning solution, Academy, which is perfect for individualized learning and giving students’ control over their own educational journeys.

A Webinar on Personalized Learning…

Recently, our very own Gavin, International Director, and Derek, International Manager, have been flying worldwide delivering a personalized learning workshop at conferences such as the AISA Educators Conference and the Education Experts Conference.

Today, we’ve decided to give you an insight into the workshop delivered, which we’ve put together as a webinar.

You can see the webinar delivered on our page here.

If you’d like to find out more about what the webinar covers, which includes a discussion on what is personalized learning, how you can achieve it, and how you can overcome any challenges, read on, as we’re going to discuss a little bit about creating personalized learning plans for students.

Let’s Begin… Personalized Learning Plans

So to start, we need to set out the fact that to really personalize learning in the classroom, plans should be created for each student. To create a plan, we discuss six steps. Although they may not be surprising, together, they are powerful and each one has the individual student at its center, which is really important.

We’ll go through the first four steps here and explore how you can create the optimal personalized learning plan for each of your students.

1. Lay Out Your Starting Point


To start, let’s make sure you begin at your starting point and define it. By looking at assessment results as the blueprint of your curriculum design, we are able to understand where we’re going. Also, through adaptive technology that yields reliable, fair results and enables you to have smart data you can interpret, you can put the correct assessment in place to set benchmarks which is ideal.


2. Set Goals

PencilNext, we’ll take a look at setting goals. It must be remembered that it’s not necessarily simple for students to set goals. As teachers, we should be setting goals with our students alongside asking them what areas they’d like to improve in, what their strengths and weaknesses are, etc. Students must be a part of this process and set their own goals so they know what they must achieve and how they’re going to get there.


3. Map Learning Modalities & Interests

WorldAlso, to help us develop learning plans, we need to understand our students’ preferences. Do we have visual or auditory learners? What are their interests and favorite subjects? Well, knowing these means we can accommodate students’ preferences in plans. What’s more, using Exact Path and similar adaptive technology, we can design a program tailored to a student’s needs.


4. Teach Students to Track & Focus

Bar ChartNow, moving onto the next step, we must consider the fact that students should be able to track their own progress. It’s important to make sure you have the right tracking tools to support your students and give them what they need. Allow students to view their own progress easily and see how they can master any misconceptions with adaptive technology such as Exact Path. Fundamentally, however, students need to see all their data and be able to interpret it verbally.

The final two steps focus on benchmarking and growth points, as well as relationship building. If you’d like to listen to the other points then make sure you listen to the full webinar.

View the full version of the Personalized Learning webinar.

As always, if you have any questions regarding personalized learning and how Edmentum International’s solutions can support you, just email and we’ll be happy to help!

Using Adaptive Technology to Create Personalized Learning Plans

Hi there! I’m just touching base with you to let you know about the events we’re going to be at very soon. From 20th-23rd October, myself, Derek Devine, will be at the AISA Educators Conference, and my colleague, Gavin McLean, will be at the NESA Leadership Conference between 18th-21st October. (We’re also going to be at GESS Turkey between 25th-27th October on stand D-01 and the Education Experts Conference between 30th-31st October.)

We’re looking forward to meeting all the delegates at the AISA Educators Conference and the NESA Leaderaship Conference and to demonstrate our suite of integrated curriculum and assessment solutions, especially as to how they can support teachers in helping their students find success in their educational journeys.

Personalized Learning Workshop

Furthermore, whilst at the AISA Educators Conference, NESA Leadership Conference and the Education Experts Conference, Gavin or I will be hosting an informative workshop to cover how technology and data can be used to deliver truly personalized learning.

To give you insight into the workshop, I wanted to discuss personalized learning plans today, and what they could include, as well as how you can use adaptive technology to aid them.

Personalized Learning Plan

Firstly, to really personalize learning in the classroom, we need to create plans. I’ve broken these down into six steps in my workshop – these points may not seem revolutionary but together, they’re a powerful force, and each one centers around the individual student.

Let’s spend some time going through the first four steps to create the optimal personalized learning plan.

1. Define Your Starting Point

Number one is to begin at your starting point and define it. We must understand where we’re going by looking at assessment results as the blueprint of your curriculum design. Also, the correct assessment needs to be in place to set benchmarks, which can be done through adaptive technology that yields reliable, fair results and gives you smart data that doesn’t require an interpreter.

2. Set Goals

Let’s move onto setting goals. When setting goals, we must remember that this isn’t necessarily easy for students. We should be setting goals with our students whilst asking them what their strengths and abilities are, what areas they would like to improve in, etc. Students need to set their own goals to achieve and understand how they’re going to get there to succeed.

3. Map Learning Modalities & Interests

Next, knowing our students’ preferences will help us when we’re developing learning plans. Whether we have visual or auditory learners, understanding these means we can tailor plans to students’ needs. Plus, by using adaptive technology such as Exact Path, you can design a program tailored specifically to a student’s needs.

4. Teach Students to Track & Focus

Then we must teach students to track their progress. You should find the right tracking tools for your students that give you what you need. For instance, adaptive technology such as Exact Path allows students to see their own progress easily and master any misconceptions. Ultimately though, students should be able to read all data and verbalize it.

The last two steps center around benchmarking and growth points, as well as relationship building. If you want to hear more about these points and the last two too, come and listen to the workshops. Let’s also discuss personalized learning together and how we can optimize it for student success. Looking forward to seeing you there!

If you’re not attending these events and want to find out more about the points in this presentation, I’m more than happy to send the full webinar recording from the events – just email me at

You can find out more about the NESA Leadership Conference, AISA Educators ConferenceGESS Turkey and the Education Experts Conference on their websites.

We’re Speaking About How to Achieve Truly Personalized Learning

Hello! Next week, between 21st-23rd September 2018, myself, Derek Devine, International Business Development Manager at Edmentum International, and my colleague, Gavin McLean, International Business Development Director, are travelling to Dubai to attend IPSEF Middle East.

There, we’ll be showcasing how our suite of integrated curriculum and assessment solutions can support teachers in helping all of their students succeed, and we hope to meet teachers who attend to show them how we can help them achieve their academic goals too.

Find out more about all our learning solutions and what we’ll be talking about, as well as how we can help your school’s teaching and learning.

Not only this, I’ll also be hosting a workshop there to discuss how technology and data can be used to deliver truly personalized learning. And this is what I’m excited to mention to you.

Here at Edmentum International, our commitment to assessment, instruction and data lays the foundation for how we define and support personalized learning, which is why I’m looking forward to speaking about it more.

During my presentation, I’ll be speaking about:

  • how you can use adaptive technology to create an accurate personalized learning path for every student;
  • how as teachers you can manage personalized learning in a diverse classroom; and,
  • how you can link personalized learning to assessment data

So it’s designed to be a really helpful, informative workshop that provides you with more information on a very significant subject.

For us, it’s important to individualize learning as much as possible. And I know that when I visit schools around the world, personalized learning is very important to teachers, but it also poses a challenge to them in terms of time or resources.

But what is personalized learning? What is the best way to define it?

There are so many interpretations of what it is. But it’s all about putting students first – we’re sure you’ll agree with this! Guided by innovative teaching and supported by tools that pace learning to students’ needs, as well as tailoring instruction to students’ preferences and aligning education to students’ interests, these elements all define personalized learning. However, although that’s my definition, you may be thinking something different.

With individualized learning, differentiated learning and student agency however, we can deliver personalized learning.

So come along and listen to my workshop at IPSEF Middle East if you’re attending – find out more about personalized learning and we can discuss it together – hopefully you’ll learn a lot too! I look forward to seeing you there.

Don’t forget to visit our stand at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City, Dubai, if you’re attending IPSEF this year.