35 Statements Used to Describe Personalized Learning

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 19 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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Bena Kallick Allison Zmuda
With Bena Kallick.

Bena Kallick and I had the privilege to present to 100-plus assistant superintendents and their district teams on personalized learning. There were a few moments that I wanted to capture for our community to clarify “why” and to motivate telling your story.

You see, personalized learning is an instructional model that is the means to a desired end, not an end in and of itself. What is it that you hope to accomplish for the students in your classroom, school, or district? This is the heart of your story — something that drives your planning, something that carries you through inevitable roadblocks, something that unifies people in the worthiness of the pursuit. What’s the one word or phrase? “Equity,” “relationships,” and “innovation” were just some of the words that folks around the room came up with.

How does personalized learning make your story more possible?

Before you can connect the two you have to have a common definition of what personalized learning is in the first place.

Here’s my definition: a progressively student-driven model where students deeply engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to demonstrate desired outcomes.

This is different from personalized learning as a technology initiative where students are only controlling the pace of learning but have little opportunity to shape what they learn and how they demonstrate learning. But what is it for you? And how does that line up with others?

Now you are ready to put the pieces together. Take a look at why these 35 individuals have chosen personalized learning:

As the list scrolls, you see “respect,” “student centered,” “access and empowerment,” and “relevance” as responses as to why this does live up to the hype. We want to design learning that matters. Matters to the discipline. Matters to growth. Matters to the student. And matters to us. That is the new narrative we need to start telling on behalf of our students and with our students.

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