Monday, August 24, 2015

Growth Mindset and Personalized Learning

Mindset, based on Carol Dweck's book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is about how we learn to fulfill our potential. Growth Mindset, according to @GrantLichtman "is about valuing questions more than answers and to demand more of your students as learners." 

The conversations were so engaging that time just flew by. Before our chat, conversations were going around the Twitter world about how the system impacts mindset. So we read and shared @AlfieKohn's article Perils of the System and Growth Mindset and other resources on the system and developing a growth or fixed mindset. 

The big question: 
What factors need to be in place to foster and nurture a growth mindset?

We used the Q1, A1 format for the questions:

We continued to follow the conversations around this for several days before #plearnchat. Then we invited educators who we believed would want to delve deeper into mindset, the system and the teacher's role in affecting how a student feels about themselves as a learner. Here's a few of the tweets that stood out:
Brian Durst @RESP3CTtheGAME
Adults should model their learning, behaviors, and risk taking, then support learners' efforts.

Danya Davis @DavisDanya
I tell my learners, "Where you are today is okay" -- What is YOUR next step? Honest self-reflection is key!

L Murray @LMurray_
Build relationships with learners. What do they want to learn and why? Set goals or targets and reflect on process to meet them.

Mr.Loadman_HHS @LaudmanHHS
Model growth mindset and consistently require learners to articulate growth oriented goals to you as they embrace process. _____________________

Here are a few resources we shared in the chat:

Congratulations to Shelly Vohra @raspberryberet3 who won our book, Make Learning Personal!

Shelly Vohra is an Instructional Coach and PhD Candidate in Educational Technology for the Peel District School Board in Ontario, Canada. She has been an AQ Instructor for the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) which includes Math, Reading, ESL, Special Education, Media and presently instructing Math Part One. Her responsibility as an instructional Coach is to work collaboratively with classroom teachers by focusing on individual and group professional development that will enhance and refine the understanding about research based practices and instruction.  Shelly's Linkedin

Shelly's Website:

"Need to teach through inquiry approach; I teach through big ideas 
and related essential questions. There is no one right answer."
Shelly Vohra


Our next #plearnchat is in 3 weeks: September 14, 2015 7pm ET on topic:  
Full STEAM Ahead

Here is the Storify with the archives of chat on Mindset:

Guest Post: 5 Shifts to Learner Roles in a Personalized Learning Environment

by Jim Rickabaugh, Ph.D. - Director, Institute for Personalized Learning

Over the next few months, we will be engaging with the Institute for Personalized Learning in a series of joint posts on Learner Agency. Learner agency often gets left out of conversations on education transformation and even conversations about personalized learning. Yet it is a critical component in any attempt to personalize the learning experience with learners.

To introduce our readers to the Institute, we would like to share a link to one of their previous posts, 5 Shifts to Learner Roles in a Personalized Learning Environment. The post examines several ways in which learners and learning play different and expanded roles in an environment where the goal is to prepare learners for a future in which continuous learning and the ability to learn independently are keys to life and career success. Cutting through the hype and noise surrounding personalized learning, learners must do much more than memorize facts and accumulate information. We risk short-changing our learners if we fail to prepare them with skills for success when we are no longer present in their lives.

Check out the post and then watch our blog and theirs as we jointly explore the concepts around learner agency.


The Institute for Personalized Learning (@Institute4PL) works with school districts through a unique action network approach to create an educational ecosystem that is student-centered and personalized for each learner. Their model is based on change in three areas: learning and teaching; relationships and roles and; and structures and policies. For more information contact, or connect with them via Facebook or Pinterest.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Personalizing Learning in a High School Math Class

Guest Post from Rik Rowe, High School Mathematics Teacher in Wilmington, Massachusetts

Introducing Rik

I facilitate learning as a High School Mathematics Teacher in Wilmington, Massachusetts. Our classes have Twitter streaming on the side of my blog where I keep in touch with our Learners using Twitter to maintain the learning outside of our time in the classroom. I’m passionate about being a connected educator. You can often find me sharpening my Culture of Learning in #COLchat, making Learning more of a focus than Grading while co-moderating #SBLchat (Standards-Based Learning), developing a more integrated Professional Learning Network (PLN) in Massachusetts while co-moderating #EdChatMA and leading a dedicated crew of Servant Leaders in #ChristianEducators. These weekly discussion-based chats keep me highly connected. My blog is Yearn2Learn at and my Twitter handle is @RoweRikW.

My Personal Learning Journey

As I’m preparing to start my 16th year as an educator, I'm realizing how important it is to make the learning personal for each and every one of our Learners. While reading “Make Learning Personal” from Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, I’ve been tweeting using the hashtag of #MakeLearningPersonal. Reading their book and joining their #plearnchat conversations has opened my eyes to more highly value and respect each of our Learners. I’m also learning that referring to our “Students” as “Learners” is more respectful and appropriate. Reading “Make Learning Personal” is creating a needed SHIFT for me in education.

To start valuing our Learners in the #1st5Days, I ask our Learners to write a letter to me answering several questions about their learning, their background in mathematics and what interests them. Our Learners email me their lengthy letters and I email them to a specific @Evernote Notebook. This way, no matter where I am, I can access their letters and review their needs and interests. I regularly search that @Evernote Notebook for keywords based on our current learning. It might be nursing, engineering, architecture or aviation to tap into their strengths or challenges when facilitating our class discussion. In these letters, our Learners also shared their perceived gaps in learning based on their prior years of studying mathematics. We aim to strengthen their skills, close these gaps and build resilience through facilitation by our Learners.


As far as Summative Assessments (SAs), we offer our Learners the choice to respond to 4 out of 5, 8 out of 9, 10 out of 12 or whatever is appropriate. We have offered assessments in the form of a Tic-Tac-Toe. Several individuals in our Professional Learning Network (PLN) have been referring to these innovative assessments as #TTTDiff since they offer differentiation in the form of a Tic-Tac-Toe. We have requested our Learners to build their own Tic-Tac-Toe board with nine (9) mathematical concepts where the items in the rows and columns align to some specific order or have some meaning that is explained by the Learner. We find this offers Learners choice, encourages their creativity and deepens their thinking.

In addition to Tic-Tac-Toe innovations, we offer Learners a choice as to which open-response or short essay they’d choose to respond to and defend their response. This has empowered our Learners to demonstrate more individuality and has stimulated interesting discussions. In our Algebra 2 course this past year, I created our weekly spiral review packets of about 24-32 questions based on three (3) different perceived levels of understanding (needing more of a challenge, really struggling and needing simpler or most straight-forward questions and somewhere in the middle). Our Learners work on their review packets over a period of five (5) school days. When they’ve completed their packet, they hand them in to me so I might provide feedback and determine their most recent proficiency on the 3-4 standards assessed in these packets. These are all questions that we’ve previously studied together and I want to make sure they retain these fundamental skills. After reading “Make Learning Personal”, I’m thinking that our Learners could select from 4-6 options based on the ones they need to review the most. This could make the learning even more personalized.


Our Learners are encouraged to facilitate our learning through collaborative questioning, sharing and leadership. We start building a strong Culture of Learning (#COLchat) in the #1st5Days that enables us to respect each other, depend on each other, challenge each other and value each other’s contributions. We also aim to develop skills like prioritizing, scheduling, public speaking, coping, exhibiting confidence and working through vulnerabilities. In addition to our mathematical content, we strive to develop divergent, convergent and metacognitive thinking through our collaborative learning via questioning. Each class usually starts with a proposed agenda on the whiteboard. Our Learners are prompted as to whether this fits their needs or whether they’d like to adapt it to better align with their current state of understanding. Our Learners know our learning is centered around their questions and current proficiency levels on our standards. Their questions and struggles guide and direct our learning. Several days our Learners propose changes to make our learning more personal.

Adaptations based on reading “Make Learning Personal”  

I’m planning to ask our Learners to create a Personal Learner Profile (PLP) based on eight (8) or so provided items like engaging in classroom settings, willingness to facilitate classroom learning, ability to reach out when challenged, learning outside of school and resilience to work through challenges prior to asking for guidance. In addition to my eight (8) or so items, I plan to ask our Learners to add their own 2-3 items they’d like to identify that are either their strengths they’d like to deepen or areas of challenge they’d like to improve upon. I want to empower our Learners to take the driver’s seat even more than they have previously. I plan to spend more of class time with Learners engaged in developing higher levels of proficiency on their choice of our Standards. I’d also like to enable our Learners to collaborate with anyone, not just the Learners in their physical proximity.

Learner Choices

During the 14-15 school year, there were several Learners that were regularly outspoken about making our learning more personal. I’m now even more grateful that I heeded their requests. One Learner frequently requested our class to work collaboratively without any direct instruction from me. He said, “After receiving your feedback, we now know what we need to work on and can learn in our groups. Can we please?”

I’d always agree. After all, I’m learning that it’s all about that they are learning and how they are learning. Too often educators may lean toward providing direct instruction and not yielding to what our Learners really want or need. When I think of Professional Development (PD), direct instruction is rarely the best avenue for my learning. A second Learner would often greet me at the door, ask me about my day and then ask if our class could please work in their groups helping each other. He’d always assure me that they’d beckon me to assist when they needed me. He and his classmates were often so thankful when I’d say “Of course”. He assured me they would get all their work done. He always had such a big smile when conversing with me! His leadership skills have soared over our year together! Finally, there was a group of Learners that were enrolled in the same course with me, but in different sections. Therefore, they had class with me at different times.

I continue to be stunned but grateful when our Learners take responsibility or ownership for their learning and convey what they need or what they’d like to bypass. Reading “Make Learning Personal” has revealed to me that when the needs, interests and challenges of our Learners become the focus of our collaborative learning, engagement ignites.

I encourage you to join me by reading and applying the truths in “Make Learning Personal” to create a SHIFT in education that puts our Learners in the driver’s seat! Also, consider joining me as I’ve enrolled in the “5 W’s of Personalized Learning” online course this fall. It’s sure to be a great learning and sharing experience for all!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Leadership, Change and Personalized Learning

Transforming teaching and learning does not happen overnight. Moving to Personalized Learning Environments is a huge shift where schools create an active learning culture based on trust and respect. The leader leads the way. David Buck @dbuckedu made a strong point in "A2: Burden of proof lies with the leader. Must provide evidence-based results that show the personalized approach leaders to deep learning."

There are many aspects of leadership to focus on this topic for #plearnchat so we reached out for questions and ideas from our Twitter friends. We decided that we first needed to ask about the qualities and characteristics of leaders.

The big question: How do you set the stage for change and personalized learning?

We used the Q1, A1 format for the questions:

There were so many conversations that stood out that to choose any was going to be tough. Here's just a few of the great comments during the chat:

Rik Rowe @RoweRikW
Since Ts are on the front line, admins who are open to incorporate innovative learning approaches are greatly appreciated.

Shelly Vohra @raspberryberet3
Leaders need to grow as well; don't follow the norm, take risks, support Ts, and need a growth mindset.

Joël McLEAN @jprofNB
Not be afraid to be vulnerable. Lead by example, be in the "trenches", and support your teachers.

Lynn Spady @lynnspady
Be brainstorm, to lend a helping hand when someone wants to try something new, and to share successes and failures.


Here are a few of the resources we shared during the chat:


Congratulations to Carlie Stigler for winning our book,  Make Learning Personal

Carlie Stigler, @cstigler28, is a 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade multiage teacher at Fond du Lac STEM Academy in Fond du Lac, WI. She received her bachelor's degree from Carroll University in Elementary Education and Special Education with a minor in Early Childhood. Carlie is on a mission to facilitate learning spaces that embody community, inclusion, collaboration, and personalizing learning amongst and between educators and learners. As Carlie continues to grow as an educator and learner, she is excited to be a part of the changes in our education system that need to occur to meet the interests and demands of our world.

Carlie has been on the Dr. Will Show so we shared a few of the links to the archived shows.

Here is the storify with the archive of #plearnchat for 8/3/15 Leadership, Change and PL: