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Make Learning Personal


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Table of Contents

Preface Introduction Foreword 1. What is Personalized Learning? 2. Who Are Your Learners? 3. Wow! Teacher and Learner Roles Are Changing 4. Where Is Personalized Learning Happening? 5. Why Personalize Learning? 6. Your Turn to Personalize Learning Conclusion References Appendix

About the Author

Barbara Bray is a writer, speaker, instructional designer and creative learning strategist who enjoys connecting people and ideas around transforming education. She has focused on creating learner-centered environments for over 25 years and coined the term "Making Learning Personal" in 2000 because she believed that education really needed to be all about our learners and learning first. Not only is Barbara focusing on personalizing learning, she posts on Rethinking Learning (barbarabray.net) and is the Founder/Owner of My eCoach (my-ecoach.com) My eCoach is based on a coaching platform for teachers because they are learners too and need ongoing support as they change teaching practice. She wrote the professional development column for CUE for 17 years and received the CUE Gold and Platinum disks for her contributions to educational technology for the advancement of teaching and learning. Barbara is passionate about writing, sharing stories of transforming learning, and facilitating change. She is encouraged when she sees teachers and administrators immersing themselves in challenges that stretch their minds and imagination. She loves combining the neuroscience of learning with the design-thinking process and project-based learning in a learner-centered environment. Barbara helps schools and organizations develop sustainable coaching programs, design professional learning to transform teaching practice and guide the redesign of flexible learning spaces. She enjoys working with leadership teams in guiding change so all stakeholders are committed to a shared vision around teaching and learning. Barbara lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her best friend and husband Tom, who she has been married to for forty-six years. She is grateful for her sisters Sandy Ritz, Terry Leach, and Janet Ritz for their ongoing support over the years. Barbara feels so lucky to watch how her two creative children are passionate about what they do and how they live, Sara Zimmerman and Andrew Bray, and for her amazing granddaughter, Cali who constantly shares what she has learned and creates on her own. Barbara wants to thank her friends and family who inspire her to follow her purpose to make learning personal for all learners. Kathleen McClaskey has been on mission the last three decades to level the playing field for all learners and to assist educators in discovering the learner in every child. In her career, she has been a middle school teacher, K-12 administrator, professional developer, innovative leader, author, and futurist who believes that everyone on the planet is a learner. As an educational technologist for over 33 years, graduate instructor in MA and NH and an Universal Design for Learning consultant, she has worked worldwide in training thousands of teachers in using tools to instruct all learners in the classroom. She most recently had the opportunity to go to Dubai to keynote and train teachers in the Middle East on personalized learning. Over the last 15 years, Kathleen directed and designed the professional development using Universal Design for Learning as the framework in multiple technology-based projects in math, science, literacy and autism to build 21st Century classrooms and sustainable learner-centered environments. She is passionate in empowering learners with tools, skills and learning strategies so that they can become independent learners with agency who can realize their hopes and dreams and have choices in college, career and life. Kathleen is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Personalize Learning, LLC, founder/owner of EdTech Associates, Inc. and the President and Advocacy Chairperson for the New Hampshire Society for Technology in Education (NHSTE), an affiliate of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Her advocacy work has expanded 10 years in Congress, advocating for legislation and funding for educational technology during that time. In 2012, she was awarded the ISTE Public Policy Advocate of the Year Award. Kathleen lives in New Hampshire with her husband and best friend, Jim, who she has been married to for 43 years. She has two wonderful sons, Joshua and Seth and two handsome grandsons, Austyn and Benny who all continue to serve as her daily inspiration to personalize learning for every learner. She is thankful to have family, friends and colleagues that have supported her lifelong mission to level the playing field for all learners.


"Many books claim to be about learning - few live up to the claim: this is one of the few. It addresses the key focus for changing classrooms: the culture and language.With many important and useful clarifications and distinctions, it helps the move from today's dominant depersonalized classrooms toward greater learner motivation, engagement and achievement.It is packed with a rich range of examples from US and elsewhere, and a great model of the journey of change, including teachers' stories.The authors have considerable expertise in this territory; this book deserves to become a considerable resource for improving classrooms."

-- Chris Watkins, Reader in Education
"Barbara and Kathleen are pioneers in personalized learning. This book will provide the clarity and direction many are looking for to focus their classrooms on personalizing instruction." -- Kecia Ray, Executive Director Learning Technology and Library Services

"In an age of educational upthrow, one of the major themes emerging is that of personalization. And while this concept can connote many different models of instruction, Bray and McClaskey do an excellent job of making the case for a framework that is pedagogically appropriate, research-based, and theoretically sound. Make Learning Personal makes the case for a personalization pedagogy, replete with ideas and examples that paint a canvas of possibilities for today's classroom teacher. The graphics, charts and support resources are well-designed, helpfully structured, and ready for practical application in the classroom. Through this book, educators have a helpful companion that augments their experience and expertise in transforming their classroom to meet the needs of our children as they prepare for their roles in the global knowledge econ"

-- Walter McKenzie, Educational Leader, Writer and Speaker
"Many schools acknowledge that personalizing learning is of the utmost importance; every child is an individual, so the learning we provide them should take this into account. Make Learning Personal is a book that demonstrates how to ensure a personalized learning approach can happen in your school. It draws on the experiences of many experienced educators from different parts of the world and its authors have crafted a book that every school should go to for ideas and inspiration. Bray and McClaskey are passionate about personalizing learning and this book will start you on that very same journey." -- Kevin McLaughlin, Primary Teacher

"Make Learning Personal should be on the top of every educator's professional reading list. From concept to conclusion, this book is a landmark resource that will inspire and support educators around the world to liberate school culture so that all learners can become self-directed, independent, expert learners. Bray and McClaskey provide compelling and comprehensive research-based rationale about why there needs to be a cultural shift to working in partnerships with all learners. What sets their work apart are the authentic examples and proven practical and achievable processes that educators can implement to make the shift to success made through working in partnership. As such, this book is a resource that you will delve into over and over again as your transformational learning journey evolves."

-- Greg Alchin, Learning Experience Designer

"Personalizing Learning is the key to reforming public education and is a hot topic nation-wide. In the last two weeks I've spoken at a statewide conference and on two webinars, sharing experiences of over ten years in personalizing learning. At each event, I share the exciting news of this fabulous new book: Make Learning Personal. In it, Barbara and Kathleen provide more than theoretical background, offering guidance for the requisite cultural change necessary to transform both teachers and students to become co-learners. Finally, someone has made clear the distinctions between Personalization, Differentiation and Individualization. Barbara and Kathleen's chart has become the go-to resource for this critical understanding. Personalized learning shifts the responsibility for learning to the students; in my school we like to say, "The person who does the work is the person who does the learning." If the teacher is working harder than the student, something is out of kilter. Grounded in Universal Design for Learning and the belief that all learners can succeed, this book provides the structure and the moral courage to affect meaningful change in schools across the country."

-- Lauren Kelley Parren, Innovation Coach
"How do we create a school culture where students own their learning? Where being a learner is more valuable than being a student? Personalizing learning for each student seems like a daunting task, but this book is filled with examples from multiple grade levels that will help any naysayer understand not only why we need to do this, but how it can be done. This is not about adaptive learning, but rather a sensible approach to teachers purposefully designing learning with each learner in mind, based on what we now know about how the brain works. Whether you are a classroom teacher, school administrator, or district leader, Bray & McClaskey have taken a complex process and broken it down into doable steps for you. You will learn about the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) process, which helps teachers to systematically "reduce or eliminate the barriers that keep learners from learning."

Bray and McClaskey recognize that change is hard, and provide a sensible 3-tiered approach to help move any classroom, school, or district towards personalizing learning for each learner. Even for teachers who are in schools and districts that aren't ready to make this change, there are ideas and processes to start moving in this direction. The first step is recognizing that each learner is unique and learns in different ways and at different paces. This is a book written in easy-to-understand language that will provide educators with the justification for adopting a personalized approach to learning, and provides the road map to get there. I will definitely purchase multiple copies to share with our district leaders, and plan to lead a book study next year!"

-- Nancy White, 21st Century Learning & Innovation Specialist
"One of the biggest issues with personalized learning is the lack of common understanding about exactly what it means to personalize learning. While some are talking about personalization, what others are referring to is actually individualization or differentiation. This book is THE handbook for all educators, administrators, and community members as it provides the essential background and language needed to understand how to help learners take ownership of their own learning. Each section - the what, who, wow, where, and why - provides extensive research and examples that explain why learners need to be provided with authentic voice and choice. It's time to get the students off the "stage" of school and help them to become lifetime motivated and engaged learners!" -- Laura Lindquist, Educational Technology Coordinator and Personalized Learning Coach
"Too many in education believe that "personalized" is a synonym for "individualized" or "differentiated," thus enabling them to feel current while justifying outdated, teacher-centered approaches. After reading this book, educators will never look at their jobs the same way again." -- Fred Bramante, President
"As an educator for more than 30 years, I have seen a myriad of ideas to improve education, many of which have been met with mixed results. I believe that personalized learning could truly be the game-changer! Barbara and Kathleen have certainly done their homework in clearly defining what it means to personalize learning. They identify stages that can help teachers gradually adapt their role, moving from a teacher-centered classroom to a learner-driven environment that is truly transformational. This book will serve as a valuable handbook as educators make the decision to empower their learners!" -- Betty Wottreng, Director of Technology Services
"Barbara and Kathleen do an outstanding job of really capturing what personalized learning can look like in your classroom. They take you step by step through a journey of how you can turn your classroom into an environment where all learners have a voice and choice." -- Rita A. Mortenson, Educational Technology Coordinator
"This is a book that should be read by every educator and should be a part of every teacher preparation program. Weaving learning theory, research, and practical strategies together to create a deep understanding of what it means to personalize learning, Bray and McClaskey are masterful in guiding educators as they create learner-centered environments. Sharing success stories and practical examples, this book provides exactly what is needed to help teachers create learning environments that motivate and engage ALL learners." -- Lisa Wilson, Programs/Services Administrator
"This book is on my mandatory reading list for educators who want to transform schools into learner-centered environments. Bray and McClaskey clear away the hype and buzzwords to focus on the crucial aspects of personalized learning. They provide a clear, research-supported rationale for why personalized learning is imperative, outline practical steps for implementation, and share examples of where personalized learning is already working. The book is simultaneously visionary, motivational, and practical. It is an excellent resource and I highly recommend it." -- Jon Tanner, Personalized Learning Initiative Task Force Leader
"In this book, Kathleen and Barbara have performed a wonderful service to the future of personalized learning design - grounded in research, supported by real-world examples and centered on the learner." -- Steve Nordmark, Chief Academic Officer
"If every educator could articulate what true 'personalized' learning looks like, our schools and classrooms would be much better places for students. It's time for us to stop talking about getting away from the factory model of schools and actually start doing it. This book is critically important reading for anyone who cares about empowering kids as learners." -- Dr. Scott McLeod, Founding Director
"Bray and McClaskey have clarified what it means to truly personalize learning. They not only explain why this is such a powerful way to help learners of all ages learn, but they guide educators through the process of creating powerful personalize learning environments that work." -- Linda Ullah, Coach
"This is a must read for those embarking on a teaching career, those who are just starting out, and those experienced teachers who want to reflect on why they went into to teaching and how they can improve the experience for themselves and their students. This book is my cup of tea: it is very well researched, replete with fabulous examples and great advice on how to give students a voice in their own learning. In this book every story matters because every student matters." -- Peter H. Reynolds, New York Times bestselling author and Illustrator, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, and The North Star
"Barbara and Kathleen have done an amazing job writing about Personalized Learning. I totally connected with both authors from the start of the book, where they openly share their own stories with deep emotion and raw honesty. Barbara and Kathleen both write from the heart and I found their stories inspirational and touching.

This book has given me a deeper insight into personalized learning in all areas, from the 5 W's-what, who, wow, where, and why-to 'me', as the reader, and how I can personalize learning.

There is a good balance between research, stories from teachers, leaders, and learners, and practical ideas that teachers can use in our own context. It is a comprehensive well of information and I would highly recommend this book to any educator who wants a great starting point in personalized learning and wants to give their learners the best possible learning for the rest of their lives.

Thank you for writing this much needed book!"

-- Tina Photakis, Elementary Teacher

"The core or central theme of this book is having the leaner at the center of learning. This differs from the current educational paradigm and many educational publications in that often curriculum and instruction are the focus of the discussions rather the learner. The book is nicely and strategically divided into who, what, wow, where, and why. Ideas are well supported by educational research, theories, and psychology with case studies that reinforce and exemplify the theoretical concepts covered. This is a great addition to the literature for this generation of learners and learning theory."

-- Jackie Gerstein, Adjunct Faculty
"Bray and McClaskey are pioneers in the field of personal learning communities, and their new book provides an overview of personalized learning: what it is and what it is not, scenarios from schools and districts who are already engaged in personalized learning, professional development to support changes in teaching to achieve effective personalized learning, and much more! Most importantly, perhaps, is the chapter on why personalized learning is a good idea, including its effects on student engagement, keeping students in school, and increasing the graduation rate. This book encourages educators to consider a variety of ways learning can be personalized for students from a variety of perspectives. Many thoughtful images suggest "what is" compared to "what could be" so that educators can reflect on their own practice and begin to move towards providing an environment for more student voice and choice so that students take responsibility for their own learning and delve more deeply into subject matter, making it their own." -- Sara Armstrong, Co-author, The Invent to Learn Guide to 3D Printers in the Classroom: Recipes for Success
"Deep learning only occurs when it has meaning for the learner and this book is a solid example of how this works. Bray and McClaskey provide a tour through learning opportunities that is spiced with personal learning stories told by both students and teachers. These narratives provide a sense of reality for pre-service teachers to envision and in-service teachers to acknowledge.

Notably, the authors acknowledge that change is transitional and they provide a process educators can use to evolve an "ecology of learning" into a personalized learning environment. They introduce the Wow factor as the place in the transition where teacher and learner roles change. The resources in this book support reaching this significant point in personalizing learning.

This book provides a useful framework for positive change in education."

-- Leigh E. Zeitz, Associate Professor, Instructional Technology

"I became a classroom teacher in the 1980's motivated to create educational experiences that engage all learners, replacing my own one-size-fits-all schooling. This pursuit has been my compass through out my educational career. I'm fortunate that it guided me to knowing Barbara and Kathleen years ago, before they even knew each other. From the start, they collaborated with educators to make sense of the ever-changing world of learning innovations. For example, Barbara has been a leader in coaching teachers in authentic project based learning, and Kathleen has led in using universal design to ensure access to learning for all students.

They now combine their long years of experience in this comprehensive publication,
Making Learning Personal, written from both their hearts and minds. They provide a thought-provoking way to reframe the conversation of personalized learning from the learner's point of view. At the same time they detail their unique '5 W's' scaffold for implementing personalized learning, including tools, case studies and reflective questions to ponder.

I invite you to explore the personalized learning landscape in this book, so that we can inform ourselves and empower the learners we serve to take ownership of their own authentic learning."

-- Julie Duffield, Senior Research Associate
"The authors gather and interpret the many forms in which educators worldwide seek to 'personalize' the learner's experience. Over years of use, that term has taken on many meanings, and this valuable guide helps users clarify their own." -- Kathleen Cushman, Author, The Motivation Equation

"If you have done any investigation into personalized learning, then you have certainly come across the names of Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey. These women have provided a number of resources for teachers, administrators, and districts to help understand how to better personalize learning in the classroom. After reading their first book, Make Learning Personal, you have been motivated to make changes in classroom practice. This fieldbook provides practical strategies and resources to help you rethink teaching and learning so you can provide a personalized experience for every child."

-- Theresa Nixon, Director of Educational Technology & Library Services

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