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Squared saunalahden koulu 08
Personalized learning and wellbeing in the school community

Saunalahti school

Marker Espoo, Finland
This model helps you to build flexible and personalized learning opportunities. It centers on utilizing students' personal strengths and improving study motivation through ownership of learning.

What is it all about?

“Personalized learning allows children and youth to progress in their studies according to their personal learning abilities and strengths. Learning can happen independently from students' age or grade.”

Hanna Sarakorpi, principal

The Saunalahti model is based on a personalized learning plan that is designed with the guardians. Their goals are set according to their strengths, skill-level defined by a special-needs teacher as well as their own interests. These goals are also founded on the curriculum's objectives and modified to fit each child.

When students are engaged in setting goals for themselves, they engage in working towards them and they gain agency over their education. The goals are founded in the student's skill-level and progress in studies charted in regular meetings with a team of special-needs teachers. The teachers, however, also assess the student's need for support and a general need for flexible learning groups during these meetings.

Learning is personalized but still collaborative and, above all, child-focused. The model is focused on children's comprehensive wellbeing and seamless multiprofessional collaboration on a daily basis that engages also the guardians. The children's whole developmental community works together to support their wellbeing, personal growth, development and learning. This sets the stage for the joy of learning both for the children and adults – together.

The model requires strong, collaborative pedagogical leadership and a framework that supports it. Teacher teams that encourage collaborative planning and assessment of learning processes illustrate these aspects well. When the framework is founded on participation, everyone at the school can feel like they are heard and seen and this creates an environment where anyone can make a difference.

The planning process allows you to direct resources at children in need right when they are needed. The goal is for every student to find their own, diverse methods to work and learn.

These eight steps illustrate how to build a school community that supports personalized learning and what you should note when creating a personalized learning path.

Read more ›
Intended Outcomes
6 - 16
Age Group
Resources Needed
3–5 years, a framework supporting teacher teams, resources for training the teachers.
HundrED Criteria
The model provides personalized learning paths for students all through basic education.
The flexible learning model centers on students' strengths and builds their self-esteem. The assessment style is focused on developing the individual in concrete ways.
The innovation can be implemented in any school, in any grade with enough time.

See this innovation in action.


Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

How to get started
Start experimenting with personalized learning with a small exercise during a single lesson.
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The significance of knowing the students
Personalized learning and differentiating is always built on a strong foundation of knowledge of the students.
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Organizing work in the classrooms
Teachers must have proficient organizational skills and teach students how to work independently in order to differentiate the class.
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Teacher collaboration as a strength
Teacher teamwork and collaborative lesson planning are key in supporting differentiating.
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Expanding the model
You can expand the model to other subjects, topics and multidisciplinary modules step-by-step.
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Organizing grade-independent studies
At Saunalahti, grades 1–2 study independent from grade.
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