Honeycomb Constellation Maps: What Does Personalized Learning Look Like for You?

by Paige, Youth Advisory Council Member

The term “personalized learning” has become more prevalent within the last few years, but what is it? According to the Institute for Personalized Learning (I4PL), it is “an approach to learning and instruction that is designed around individual learner readiness, strengths, needs and interests.” Although personalized learning in many ways is “reinventing the wheel” in education, I4PL created the Honeycomb Model, a template that makes reinventing education easier.

Found at the core of the Honeycomb Model are the three primary elements of personalized learning (Learner Profiles, Customized Learning Paths, and Proficiency-based Progress). These branch out to other concepts in three successive layers. Customized Learning Paths promote the equal collaboration of students and teachers creating individually-tailored goals, which encompasses learner agency. The second concept, Learner Profiles, allows students to reflect on their growth, document their status (in terms of demographics, academic skills, and future-planning), and map out goals (often S.M.A.R.T. goals). Proficiency-based Progress, the final core component, is the philosophy of academic expectations being based on proficiency rather than seat time. Those three elements together are the building blocks of personalized learning, but schools must know what elements of the Honeycomb Model are most important to their community.

One of the ways to do this is to make Honeycomb Constellation Maps. During the final session of the 6th Annual Youth Summit (a personalized learning convening planned by the Youth Advisory Council for students in grades 6 – 12), district administrators, students, principals, and teachers worked together to create constellation maps for their unique school or classroom setting (see below).

Image courtesy of Paige

A Honeycomb Constellation Map is a mini-diagram of the 4-5 elements a team is going to use to begin their personalized learning implementation: one core element, two learning and teaching (orange layer) concepts, and one or two relationships/roles (green layer) or structures/policies (purple layer) component. The picture above depicts the simplest form of a Honeycomb Constellation Map, but more fun and interactive ways to do it include using paper cut-outs, straws, popsicle sticks, tape, and scissors to create a 3D constellation. Another way to make a map is to create a digital representation using photo-editing or 3D modeling software. These methods prompt students, teachers, and parents to get involved in modern education.

Once Honeycomb Constellation Maps have been made, it is easy for students to pick out the most commonly valued elements and advocate for their implementation; writing to administrators, doing a speech in school, or creating peaceful petitions are all examples of how they can be integrated.

Creating Honeycomb Constellation Maps, familiarizing schools with the Honeycomb Model, and integrating personalized learning are all simple (but important) steps you can take towards reinventing education. Hungry to learn more about the Honeycomb Model or personalized learning in general? Let us know what you want us to write about next by sending an email to contactus@institute4pl.org. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”