Monday, January 26, 2015

Flexible Learning Spaces: #plearnchat 1/26/15

Every other Monday at 7pm ET, we host #plearnchat. We want to thank everyone for actively participating in our second chat on Flexible Learning Spaces. This was Trend #4 in the 10 Trends to Personalize Learning in 2015.

Our main question "how do learning spaces impact learning and learners?" helped guide the direction of the conversations and the chat was amazing!!  So many people stood out, shared resources, asked great questions, and much more. There was one person who we just have to share with you and send her our book, Make Learning Personal. Congratulations Diana!

Diana Rendina  is a Librarian/Media Specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School in Tampa, FL. She is passionate about Makerspaces and blogs at We highly recommend following Diana on Twitter: @DianaLRendina

Library website:

Our second #plearnchat on Flexible Learning Spaces went by so fast that we are so glad that we  archived it using Storify so we can take time in one place to review all the ideas, resources, research, pictures, and videos that was shared in the chat.

Our next chat will be Monday, February 9th at 7pm ET on Inquiry-based PBL and Personalized Learning.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creating Personalized Learning for Everyone

Guest Post by Katherine Prince, Senior Director, Strategic Foresight, KnowledgeWorks

One of the United States’ foremost educational futurists, Katherine Prince leads KnowledgeWorks’ exploration of the future of learning.  As Senior Director of Strategic Foresight, she speaks and writes about the trends shaping education over the next decade and helps education stakeholders strategize about how to become active agents of change in pursuing their ideal visions for the future learning ecosystem. 

Since 2007, Katherine has worked with education stakeholders around the country to explore how they might transform education  to create better possibilities for all young people.   

We are honored to present Katherine Prince, her work at KnowledgeWorks and her passion about the future of learning.

For the last nine years, I’ve worked at KnowledgeWorks, a non-profit social enterprise that seeks to foster meaningful personalized learning that enables every student to thrive in college, career, and civic life.  As Senior Director, Strategic Foresight, I now lead our work on the future of learning.

My colleagues and I look ten years out to explore how trends shaping education today might impact learning.  About every three years, we publish a full forecast on the future of learning (see Recombinant Education: Regenerating the Learning Ecosystem for our latest).  We use those insights as the basis for working with education stakeholders around the country to examine strategic possibilities and to explore how each of us might act as agents of change in creating positive futures for all young people.  We also produce other publications and provocations to help people explore the implications of future trends.

In addition to helping others consider strategic possibilities, I get to dream myself.  In November, I had the chance to share my personal vision for the future of learning as part of TEDxColumbus.  My talk, “A Vision for Radically Personalized Learning,” explored the possibility of truly putting students at the center of the expanding learning ecosystem.

In my vision for radically personalized learning:
  • The learning ecosystem adapts to each child’s needs.
  • Individuals, not institutions, drive the flow of learning resources.
  • The learning ecosystem supports all students in accessing the right learning experiences and supports at the right time.
  • “School” takes many forms, with some kids attending schools that look a lot like many schools do today, some kids assembling custom mosaics of learning experiences, and everything in between.
  • Physical learning hubs provide safe places for kids to go while functioning as portals to the broader community and to learning resources beyond the community’s boundaries.
  • Every child moves at his or her own pace while engaging in interest-based collaborative learning.

Every child deserves high-quality personalized learning that adapts to his or her needs and interests.  But there’s a significant risk that the expanding learning ecosystem could fracture, leaving even more children behind than the education system does today.

Given that concern, my latest paper,Innovating toward Vibrant Learning Ecosystems: Ten Pathways for Transforming Learning,” aims to help education stakeholders move from vision to action in creating a learning ecosystem that is vibrant for all learners and not just for those with means.  It highlights education stakeholders’ tremendous opportunity to reinvent learning for a new era and to create new systemic structures that can help all learners succeed.

I want this future of learning for my three-year-old daughter, Chloe, who quite literally keeps me up at night and who causes me to obsess about how we’ll navigate today’s education landscape in light of my aspirations for the future. I also want this future of learning for all children. 

I hope that we’ll have the societal will to make radically personalized learning a reality for all young people.


A little more about Katherine Prince:
Before joining KnowledgeWorks in 2006, Katherine supported large-scale changes in working practice at Britain’s Open University and helped federal agencies and other clients increase service quality by incorporating a customer perspective into their organizational planning. 
Katherine holds a BA in English from Ohio Wesleyan University; an MA in English from the University of Iowa; and an MBA from The Open University with emphases on creativity, innovation, and change and on knowledge management. She also earned a certificate in Foresight from the University of Houston. Katherine serves on the board of trustees of the Union Institute and University and is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists.
Links and resources that complement this post:

This is the first of two posts by Katherine Prince. Look for her next guest post in February on key principles from KnowledgeWorks' forthcoming paper on creating vibrant learning ecosystems. 

This post Katherine Post is cross-posted on KnowledgeWorks here:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Our First Twitter Chat: #plearnchat 1/12/15

This was so much fun for all of us! Thank you to everyone who participated. It was the quickest hour that we can remember, and we learned so much from you. The six questions we discussed were:
  1. What is Personalized Learning?
  2. What are the myths about Personalized Learning?
  3. How does Personalized Learning affect teacher practice?
  4. How is a learner different than a student?
  5. When you were in school, did you see yourself as a learner or a student and why?
  6. What type of support system needs to be in place to personalize learning?
We said we would send our book, Make Learning Personal, to two participants who tweeted creative and insightful contributions. Oh my! There were so many, that we ended up choosing three lucky participants who not only tweeted, they came up with resources, new ideas, and links.

Susan Maynor @shmaynor
Passionate Educator from @EPICElementary
Liberty, Missouri

Andrea Kornowski @andreakornowski
HS AP Environmental Science & Chemistry Teacher
Waukesha, Wisconsin

Melissa Daniels @PensiveM
Educator. Thinker. Constantly learning and loving it.
Queensland, Australia

Join us for our next #plearnchat in two weeks: Monday, January 26th at 7pm ET. The focus will be on Flexible Learning Spaces. Curious about the chat? Here is the archive of 1/12/15 chat using Storify:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Starting Small but Dreaming Big to Personalize Learning

Guest Post by Bryan Bronn, Principal, Branson Junior High, Missouri

At Branson Junior High, our amazing team of teachers and principals, along with the encouraging support of our school district superintendents to be innovative with a purpose, are on a journey to personalize learning for every child.

We are starting small, but dreaming big and have already experienced some momentous transformations in our school culture. At this school year’s kick-off orientation event for parents and learners, we built on the familiar analogy of a go-kart track to communicate the vision of personalized learning at BJH (Branson, MO is a big tourist destination in mid-America).

Most junior high/middle school aged kids would be excited to hear their parents say they were going to the go-kart track for a night out of family fun. However, if when they arrived at the track the parent asked the attendant for a two-seater go-kart and then directed their son/daughter to climb in the passenger seat, the child’s excitement level would immediately deflate. You can easily picture in your mind’s eye the typical response a child would have to their parent’s action: “I thought we were here to have fun?! Can’t we each have our own go-kart to drive?”

Likewise, if we desire fully engaged and responsible learners, then we must provide them the opportunities to drive their own go-kart.  Just like a go-kart track, we set-up safe boundaries, provide some initial guidance, but then let the learner buckle-up and drive!

Our journey to personalized learning began in 2011 and 2012, at successive annual school spring leadership retreats, where every staff member has the opportunity to participate in a half-day, off-campus, interactive and focused professional learning conversation. Our teachers embraced moving from a culture of compliant students to a culture of passionate and engaged learners. Time spent collaborating around concepts in Angela Maiers, The Passion Driven Classroom, Carol Dweck’s, Mindset, and Daniel Pink’s, Drive, ignited a fire in our team to build upon our solid history of creating student success by taking learning to a whole new level.

As a community committed to learning (Branson School's Mission Statement), we made collective commitments to research and learn how to create an intentional school environment where learners could become more ready, respectful and responsible as developing adolescents because of their time spent with us on campus. We didn’t know for sure where we were headed, but the journey had begun!

As teacher teams began researching and learning, we discovered pockets of innovation where educators were changing the role of the student from merely a passive recipient of pre-packaged curriculum, to one of a passionate, self-motivated and self-directed learner. We had the wonderful opportunity of taking two trips to the greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin area during the 2013-2014 school year to see personalized learning in action in several schools and classrooms.
PL Trip to Wisconsin II.jpg

Seeing some working models really helped our team of teachers to develop our own vision and roadmap for how personalized learning would emerge at BJH. The collaborative conversations in the school district's suburbans during the to and from 10-hour Missouri-Wisconsin drives were some of the best brainstorming, thought clarifying and vision developing discussions we’ve ever held. There is something special about a team of educators collaborating in a vehicle together to dream and design a preferred future for their school!

After our second team of teachers returned from their school sites visit trip to Wisconsin, we came upon the Personalize Learning website and made connection with two leading ladies in the forefront of personalized learning. Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey led a small team of our teacher leaders through a school personalized learning readiness audit and then we committed to participate in a 5 W’s of Personalized Learning eCourse with Barbara and Kathleen in the spring of 2014. They aided us tremendously in developing a common language and understanding for personalizing our learning environments. On our journey, we have definitely stood on the shoulders of others in our professional learning network (PLN), acting interdependently for the benefit of our own learners. 

Excitingly, our participation in the Wisconsin trips and the 5 W’s of Personalized Learning eCourse webinars were coinciding with a building remodel project taking place at our junior high school. The opportunity to take our research findings about personalized learning and apply them to our architectural design plan to produce personalized learning environments was a huge blessing! We are greatly appreciative of our school board and district superintendents for trusting us with such a significant amount of input.

Simultaneous to these developments, I created a ScoopIt! digital curation site, Personalized Learning, to continue stimulating our teaching and learning team’s commitment to learn about personalized learning.

The bottom line of our journey has been to move the conversation back to asking learners, “what do you want to be when you grow up as a contributing member of society?” and subsequently, “what will you need to learn and be able to know and do along your way to becoming a doctor, entrepreneur, mechanic, entertainer, pharmacist, teacher, small business owner, etc.?”; instead of “we need you to score Proficient or Advanced on the state assessment so our school and district can meet accountability standards” or “so Missouri can be in the top ten of all states in achievement and college & career readiness measures by the year 2020,” or even just  “so you can acquire the necessary credits to be promoted to the next grade level and eventually to graduate.” Moving the conversation back to being about the learner and learning is our goal.

Chloe.imgFortunately, many of our learners are embracing the challenge and opportunity of personalized learning. My favorite holiday season gift from a learner this school year was from a 7th grade girl named Chloe. Chloe deeply impacted me when she walked up in the car drop-off line and handed me the following homemade craft sign. Chloe, among many others, gets it!

Chloe’s gift giving is a testament to her character and thoughtfulness, but also to one of our primary beliefs at Branson Junior High. At our school, relationships come first. Relationships between school staff, learners and their families, as well as with our larger community, are what school should be all about. We believe no significant learning occurs without significant relationships (James Comer).

Chole's P.L. gift.jpgChloe’s gift also bears evidence of her ownership of another of our school’s primary beliefs; in rigor, having the high expectation of herself as a learner that she has what it takes to be successful, and will take responsibility to do so. We believe in developing a growth mindset in our learners, viewing challenging work as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Lastly, Chloe’s gift reveals our teaching and learning team’s belief in relevance, personalizing the learning environment so learners can follow their passion and find their purpose. We believe in helping learners discover and understand how they best access (get) information, engage (learn) with content, and express (show) what they know and understand (Barbara Bray, Kathleen McClaskey, Judi Easdon, Lacie Reinsch).

Building robust educator capacity for personalizing the learning environment of a classroom, a teaching team or an entire school, requires empowering your teaching and learning team to experience the richness of personalized learning themselves. If you expect your team to facilitate personalized learning experiences for their learners, you must allow them to build their own island of success with personalized learning. Your school’s model will have common characteristics with other models of personalized learning from around the country and world; however it will also be unique if you allow your team to truly personalize your journey.  We encourage you to go create your own island of success with personalized learning!


Bryan Bronn.jpg
Bryan Bronn is part of the passionate team of educators at Branson Junior High, with an enrollment of 725 seventh and eighth graders, serving in his sixth year as principal. Bryan facilitated a personalized learning environment with his learners in the classroom through American History and Geography courses before moving into school administration. Bryan is a native Nebraskan, but has taught and led youth in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, as well as Nebraska, to follow their passion and find their purpose. Bryan has earned advanced degrees in education and has served as the middle level representative for the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.

You can follow Bryan on Twitter @bronnb and Branson Junior High @BransonJH

Bryan is married to Paula (26 years), who is an elementary teacher of the Gifted and is a father of three, Josh (23), Caleb (21) and Hope (18).