Personalized Learning Isn’t Just Possible, it’s Happening

As a full-time education consultant, Allison Zmuda works with educators to grow ideas on how to make learning for students challenging, possible and worthy of the attempt. Over the past fifteen years, Zmuda has shared curricular, assessment, and instructional ideas, shown illustrative examples, and offered practical strategies of how to get started.

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As a keynote speaker at last week’s ThinkSpace event, I recognized that personalized learning isn’t just possible, it is happening. Being around so many educators committed to building and refining the relationship between teachers and students was electric.

Individuals working within these classrooms, schools, and districts are open to this process and are willing to share their experience. That, to me, is the most important part. We must open ourselves up and reveal the messiness of personalized learning so others aren’t discouraged when it isn’t perfect right away.

When you first start, you simply try something and see how it works. When it doesn’t go the way you planned, you reiterate and try again.

An Innovative Environment

The ThinkSpace environment itself was absolutely electric. The physical space itself was absolutely beautiful, showing how thoughtfully engineered and imagined the event was. It was truly designed to create conditions for innovative practices and ideas to become vibrant and alive.

Between the organization of seating, it created a level of reflection and conversation captured in a multitude of different ways. We had small whiteboards we could bring to our desks, had televisions for visuals, and spaces geared around one-to-one conversation or reflection.

It was really a great physical space to promote that level of innovation.

 

True Application

As part of my keynote, I shared the four attributes of personalized learning: voice, co-creation, social construction, and self discovery. We then did a deeper dive into the sounding board of personalized learning — designing curriculum assessment instruction that promotes student engagement, but also promotes a real learning partnership between teacher and student.

The event received great feedback, which highlighted the excitement of the day:

I observed a phenomenal school that focuses on STEM, flipped classes, and problem based learning. I am inspired by the possibilities … I see that I can go so much farther with technology than what I’ve been doing. I see that I can go much farther with engaging students and providing them with authentic learning opportunities that will engage them and get them hooked on learning forever. I am pumped to incorporate what I learned into my units for next year. — Aniko Z. – 5th Grade Nonfiction Teacher – New York, NY

It was a truly pleasant and informative day. I enjoyed meeting like-minded teachers and professionals from across the country. I am excited to try out the things I learned. I told my students just wait till you see what we do next. I will be integrating the many things I learned into our personalized learning days. You’ve just given my students a whole new range of choices. — Karol H. – 4th Grade Teacher – Big Island, VA

Share Fair wasn’t a “sit down and get it” type of event for teachers, which is what we usually get. It was more of a “here, try it out and tell me what you think,” which modeled what the classroom should be like – inquiry (based) … student-driven and … engaging. — Michelle P. – Life Science Teacher – Orlando, FL

I’m very much looking forward to featuring educators I engaged with at the event on Learning Personalized in the coming months. Make sure you check back or sign up for our email list to read their insights!

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