Taking Two Personalized Learning Friends Out for Coffee

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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Personalized Learning Network
Are you starting your personalized learning journey?

What happens when you meet two fabulous teacher-leaders in your Personalized Learning Network on Twitter and then hang out with them in person?


Say hello to middle school technology lead Andrea Kornowski from Kettle-Moraine Public Schools and high school English teacher Brian Durst from Grafton Public Schools in Wisconsin.

They make Personalized Learning look effortless. In fact, they don’t really remember a different way of teaching.

Leveraging the Personalized Learning Network

This school year, I want to leverage both Andrea’s and Brian’s expertise as well as a few others across the country to make Personalized Learning approachable and intriguing for teachers and students.

What better time to start than right now?

I asked two questions on behalf of teachers who are just starting out.

Question 1: Teachers worry that they won’t be able to cover as much content territory if they ask students to come to the design table to create, develop, and demonstrate learning. To what extent did that happen?

“It takes some of the differentiation out of the equation as far as me prepping for a class,” said Brian.

“I was relieved to find out that students covered the content better when we were going over things because we were going deeper,” said Andrea.

Watch Brian and Andrea’s full responses:

Question 2: How do you communicate to students and their parents about Personalized Learning at the start of the school year? What are the ideas and activities you engage in to set the tone?

“We spend very little time talking about the content of the course, especially when it comes to the first five days of the school year,” Brian articulated. “(It’s) purely culture-building and going through how it looks. That means some group work, some partner work, some one-on-one with the teacher and, really, the students start to develop an identity in the classroom.”

Andrea takes a similar approach as Brian, focusing on getting to know one another for the first few days of school.

“One of the first activities we do on the first day of class is we speed date and we get to know each other in the classroom as who we are personally and then, eventually, as learners,” she said.

Watch Brian and Andrea’s full responses:

What do you think of Andrea and Brian’s insight? Does it spark ideas or inspiration?


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