Personalize Learning with Kathleen McClaskey

learner agency
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Personalize Learning, LLC is owned by co-founders Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray.  These women are creating a lot of buzz around personalized learning, and I'm am so glad to have connected with Kathleen for this show.  I am a huge proponent of personalized learning, and I have been one since long before there was a term for it.  These show notes are arranged a bit differently, but to be honest, I want to share my story too.

Personalize learning in our classrooms

As a classroom teacher, I spent most of the first month getting to know my students.  We spent time doing a variety of personality and learning inventories.  I remember using an activity from Tribes where my learners identified who they wanted in their learning group based on skills and attributes of their classmates.  To discover who was in their group, the learners decorated a puzzle piece with their name on it, and then worked to find peers that fit with their puzzle piece.  They ended up in group of 4-6, and together they created a name for their group and a slogan and an image that represent the learners as  whole group.  The puzzles were displayed and discussed throughout the year in an effort to celebrate and accept the variety of strengths in each group.  Honestly, I still love the activity...ten years later.

In my high school special education classroom, I spent time with each learner reading his/her evaluation.  We scoured the evaluation in an effort to understand the learners strengths and struggles.  Once those learners understood this info, they dug into the research about how they might learn best.  They began conducting their own IEPs and asking for their own accommodations.  For the first time in the history of their learning, they did not dread coming to the "special" classroom because it was a safe space where they could express what they were struggling with and what they thought might make learning less of a struggle.  We worked tirelessly to own our behaviors and our learning, and our efforts impacted the other teachers on staff greatly.  They started to listen and respect those learners in ways they never had before, and they started to do things for all learners as a result of what my learners taught them.  Being a special education teacher was the best placement I have ever had because of the results my learners experienced and the impact that experience has had on everything I have done since!

Learning starts with the learner

Throughout my conversation with Kathleen, she says repeatedly, "It all starts with the learner."  She believes we must get a learner profile; we need to know the learners preferences, skills, and skills in need of development.  We must start to communicate that it is the learner's responsibility to learn, and we must develop their ability to recognize their own learning strengths and struggles.  Once they can recognize when they are learning and when they are not, they will be able to communicate that to the adults, and the adults can support them in building the necessary skills to learn.  Learners deserve more voice and choice in their path and place.  But...we need to build their capacity in knowing what they want and need.

Personalized is NOT Individualized 11:00

Individualized is teacher centered and personalized is learner centered.   When working with individualized learning you may be developing an IEP and designing instruction for a learner based on what you think the learner needs.  You may also be picking tools and content based on what you think the child needs.  In a personalized learning environment, the learner is making those decisions based on what they know about their own learning.  The true difference is whether or not a child has choice and voice in regards to their path an pace.

Resources Mentioned in this show

5 W's of Personalized Learning Course with Barbara and Kathleen (begins April, 2016)

Personalize Learning Models

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