Allison Zmuda Talks Personalized Learning on Principal Center Radio

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Personalized Learning podcastLearning Personalized founder and creator Allison Zmuda was a guest on Principal Center Radio with Justin Baeder last week to discuss the concept and evolution of personalized learning, her current book, Learning Personalized, and her next book set to be released by the end of the 2016 calendar year.

Baeder wasted no time digging into the material, asking Zmuda to provide her definition of personalized learning to debunk countless misconceptions on the subject.

“One of the general problems right now is that personalized learning is used to promote software platforms, it’s used to promote tech initiatives, it’s used to promote a fair bit of texts and resources and materials,” she explained.

“From my point of view, personalized learning is really a progressively student-driven model where students engage in rich problems, challenges, and ideas. They have an opportunity to co-create learning experiences with a teacher as well as following through on those experiences.”

Terminology Confusion

Since the term “personalized learning” is being used to describe individualized software platforms, incorrect conclusions are being drawn about the the concept. Personalized learning is not defined as a student engaging in a self-guided computer program, an idea that is scaring the general public into believing classrooms will no longer have a need for teachers.

“That is something that I think is not healthy and not helpful for both students and adults,” says Zmuda.

Instead, personalized learning is a way to give students authority in their own learning, which will inspire them to work harder and achieve more.

“Students need to have the opportunity to engage in more substantive problems that tap into critical and creative thinking,” says Zmuda.

Schools Paving the Way

Jessica Craig and Allison Zmuda
Read the blog highlighting Allison Zmuda’s visit to Jessica Craig’s 3rd grade class.

Zmuda gave two examples of educators paving the way for personalized learning in the United States.

The first is Jill Thompson of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, a North Carolina district among the top 20 largest in the country. Thompson is generating change in her district with more than 50 schools engaged in some kind of personalized learning plan.

The second example Zmuda gave was Jessica Craig‘s third grade class, which she visited and wrote about on Craig is blogging her year on the Colorado school’s website, digging into her own challenges such as making her class math block exciting.

“As a classroom community, they worked hard to re-imagine their math block as the students and teacher identified that there was a lack of engagement and focus in the whole class mini-lessons,” wrote Zmuda in her blog.

“Jessica commented to me that she used to agonize for hours in the evening on how to approach a new assignment or how to improve an instructional practice that clearly wasn’t working. Now she includes students as part of the design process.”

An Exciting Partnership

In addition to talking about her current book, Learning Personalized, Zmuda dug into her partnership with Bena Kallick, co-author of Habits of Mind.

“I’ll give you a sneak peek that personalized learning and Habits of Mind connect in the idea of the four filters,” explained Zmuda.

She goes on to highlight each of the four filters she and Kallick came up with: power of voice, co-creation, social construction, and self discovery.

Listen to Zmuda elaborate on each of these filters when you listen to her interview on Principal Center Radio with Justin Baeder.

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