Posts tagged ‘personalized learning’

How to Leverage Personalized Learning in the Classroom, School and District Level

“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” By Jim Rohn

One of my goals on my professional bucket list was to be published; I am excited to say I have accomplished this goal!  I would love for you to download, How to Leverage Personalized Learning in the Classroom, my new FREE book co-written with Allison Zmuda. We dig into what personalized learning is and isn’t and how you can implement this philosophy into the classroom, school and district level.

I would love to here your comments, thoughts, questions and feedback! Please message me or add them into the comment section below.


Identifying Types and Levels of Student Engagement

“When I talk to students, I don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up, I ask them what problem do they want to solve?” Jamie Casap

We know that engagement is an essential part of learning but often times educators have mixed understanding of what engagement is and how to identify it. To me, student engagement is when the student is motivated to learn because they have curiosity, interest and/or passion about what they are learning. Often times educators think that student participation is engagement but that is not necessarily true as that is active compliance. For example, a teacher asks a question, a student answers. Technically the student is participating but they are not necessarily engaged.  It is important to note there are different levels of student engagement along with different types of engagement.

Different Types of Engagement:

  • Emotional: Student attitude ranges from liking what they’re doing in class to deeply valuing learning and skills they are gaining.
  • Cognitive: Students use strategies such as metacognition for deep learning.

Different Levels of Engagement:

  • Engagement: Students take ownership through active and authentic learning strategies based on their needs and goals along with having voice and choice in their tasks.
  • Active Compliance: Students participate in learning and complete performance tasks.
  • Compliance: Students complete work that is given to them. The tasks are routine and/or rote.

As a teacher it is important to reflect on your craft to see if you can identify the different types and levels of engagement happening in your classroom. Once you can identify them it is important to take action to strive to always have true engagement in your classroom.

Here are some other resources on student engagement:

National Survey of Student Engagement

Edutopia: Student Engagement

12 Myths About Student Engagement


Incorporating Digital Learning Strategies in the Classroom

“Curriculum tells you what to teach, but doesn’t tell you HOW you have to, make the shift to the 21st century learning environment.” by Stacy Behmer

Digital learning is when instructional practices is coupled with technology. It can work in any grade and subject as it is a way of learning, not a type of learning. Digital learning encompasses digital tools and content, along with practices such as eLearning and blended learning. Digital learning has the potential to increase opportunities to personalize the learning for the diverse needs of our classrooms.

In order to create a successful digital learning classroom environment there are a few strategies that will help you:

  1. Start with one digital learning tool, content or practice then master it before moving on. For example, using digital assessment offers students and teachers real time data allowing teachers to use data to drive instruction.
  2. Choose digital tools that allow students to be active, engaged and use higher order thinking skills such as iMovie, Toontastic or podcasts.
  3. Identify student digital leaders so students have someone to go to when they need help besides the teacher. You can create digital student leaders daily, weekly or monthly but allowing students to also be digital experts in the room builds stronger classroom culture.


Building Student Agency

“What are you doing in your classroom now that you could turn over to students to do for themselves?” By Alan November

Close you eyes and imagine what a typical day looks like in your classroom and ask yourself these questions:

  • What percentage of time are you talking verse your students?
  • How often do you let students create verse consume knowledge?
  • How often do you ask for students ideas or feedback?


Student Agency is one of the most important skills we can give to our students. When we “rescue” students when they struggle or give the students answers because there is not enough time to get through the curriculum, we are doing a disservice and enabling them.

The below ideas will help you to build student agency in your classroom but the most important thing to remember is we (educators) need to get out of the students way and facilitate learning opportunities.

  1. Growth Mindset: Teaching students about having a growth mindset and that they can always learn new things or get better through practice. (See previous blog posts on growth mindsets to learn how.)
  2. Voice: Have students included in the conversations. Ask students how they want to learn in your classroom? Give them surveys about your projects and lessons so they can offer feedback. Another way to allow student voice is through goal setting and refection during class.
  3. Choice: No one wants to be told what to do all the time! Allowing students to choose what they want to work on builds agency and motivation. Often times teachers think that giving them choice means giving them ten things to chose from but that is not the case. Allow students to chose between two things such as which book they want to read,  what product do they want to create or which task they want to do.
  4. Thinking and Questioning: Allowing students to have time to think and process is important. Asking them questions to see what they truely know and have mastered also allows students to not only process things differently but self-regulate. There are different types of questioning strategies you can use in the classroom to also allow more student voice and thinking.  (More coming on this in next weeks blog post)
  5. Opportunities to be a Creator:  We need to change the way we see students, no longer as consumers, but as creators of their learning. Providing opportunities for students to create allows students to self-evaluate, self-regulate and self-motivate whiling showing mastery of content. Having students create podcasts, PSA announcements, iMovies etc allows students to go deeper with their learning too.

Authentic engagement occurs when students have agency and feel like they are apart of the school experience verse it being done to them. What changes will you make to add more student agency in your classroom?

Personalized Learning Center

“Learn as if you were to live forever.” Gandhi

I am excited to be apart of the Personalized Learning Center as a coach, collaborator, and conversationalist!  I recommend taking advantage of this unique opportunity.

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What is the Personalized Learning Center?

The Personalized Learning Center (PLC) is a private Facebook group founded by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda, co-authors of Students at the Center: Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind. The purpose of the group is to provide grassroots, educator-to-educator networking.

What will you get as a member of the PLC?

Two primary benefits: networking and group-exclusive materials.

  • Networking: You will gain access to Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda and — perhaps more importantly — one another. This will strengthen communication of those within personalized learning, continuing to grow national and international understanding of the concept.
  • Group-Exclusive Materials: Materials will be designed with and for you. This includes, but is not limited to: FAQs based on your questions, special publications designed with and for you, a reading/viewing list based on collective submissions, featured opportunities on the Learning Personalized and Institute of Habits of Mind websites.

How do I join?

After filling out the form below, you will be directed to a payment page. Once you’ve filled out the registration form, agreed to Terms and Conditions, and completed payment, you will be invited to the group.

How much does it cost?

Membership to the group is $10 per month or $100 annually for individuals or $400 annually for teams of five members or fewer within a specific school or district. Rates for entire schools can be negotiated. All billing is executed through PayPal.


Personalized Learning and Students with Disabilities

“Educators should be champions of every student who enters the schoolhouse doors.” by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Guest Blog Post by Ace Parsi

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is proud to announce the launch of a collection of cutting-edge resources and recommendations available in one central location: Personalized Learning and Students with Disabilities. The resource hub contains information, case studies, and recommendations – all with an eye on the needs and success of students with disabilities – tailored for parents, educators, school communities and policymakers, wherever and however they may be approaching personalized learning.  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this addition to is the culmination of a three-year exploration of how students with disabilities can benefit from efforts to customize their learning to align with their strengths and interests.

 This new section of features 13 new publications, including resources and policy recommendations for states to successfully design and implement approaches to personalized learning that fully include students with disabilities, nine practical examples of schools and districts utilizing personalized learning frameworks, and a national report exploring how these efforts can best support students with disabilities.

 In addition to working with you all, to produce these resources, NCLD worked closely with advocates, parents, educators, experts and policymakers at both the state and federal levels. NCLD worked specifically in New Hampshire, Colorado and North Carolina–three states that not only reflect geographic, demographic and political diversity, but which are also at different stages of implementing personalized learning.

 The resource hub also includes definitions and key components of personalized learning systems, key questions to ask in development and implementation, and policy and practice recommendations. The resources are customized for parentseducators, administrators and policymakers so they can use personalized learning as a way to create engaging learning environments that allow all students–including those with disabilities–to thrive. These resources build on NCLD’s recent national report, the State of Learning Disabilities, which provides state-specific resources and policy recommendations for supporting students with learning and attention issues.

NCLD believes the future of education is one where all children receive a customized learning experience. Increasing opportunities for schools to adopt a personalized learning approach will allow all students to thrive. We look forward to continuing this important work and ongoing partnership across the field to ensure innovative approaches to learning fully include students with disabilities. 

Gauge Yourself: On The Path to Personalizing Instruction

“Love the process and you’ll love what the process produces.” Jon Gordon

Personalized Learning (PL) is a great philosophy to reach the diverse range of learners in educators classrooms. I often get asked, “Am I doing PL right?” when I visit classrooms and other districts. There is no right way to “do” PL if you are focusing on the students taking more ownership in the classroom. There is also no right tool or program to make this happen. PL comes down to what the teacher does in the classroom; here are three ways to gauge yourself to see if you are on the path to personalizing instruction for your students:

  1.  Your students understand WHY they are learning. It is important for students to understand that learning is a process. Students need to have time to be able to set learning goals and reflect on these goals. Having student data trackers allows them to see their growth overtime no matter where they start on the learning continuum for that objective to help guide their learning goals.
  2. Your students are learning in DIFFERENT ways: No one person learns content in the same way and a “one size fits all” approach has been proven not to work. Learning is ‘messy’ and not linear. We learn from failures just as much (if not more) as we do from successes. Allowing students to have choice and learn in different ways helps personalize it based on each students needs.
  3. Your students are connecting to their interests and/or passions: Learning is always more fun when we are learning about things we are interested in or passionate about. Understanding what your students are interested in and/or passionate about can help you connect learning outcomes for your students based on their interests/passions.

In my previous blog posts on PL, I offer lots of suggestion about how to make these changes in your classroom that you might find helpful. Creating a PL environment does not happen overnight! You should make small changes in your practice to make a big impact over time.

Personalized Learning from A- Z

Getting Started with Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning Barriers and How to Overcome Them

If you would like to see more PL posts click here to see all that I have written.


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