Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How Voice Develops Agency Conversations

Our topic for tonight’s #plearnchat was based on our Continuum of Voice that we adapted from Toshalis & Nakkula research. Research and experience has taught us when learners’ views are respected and their voices are cultivated, they develop a sense of proprietorship and engagement in their learning. With this in mind, we wanted to explore the concept of how voice develops agency with our PLN.

One thing that was apparent as educators chimed in with their ideas and thoughts was that not only should teachers know their learners, but learners should know themselves in order to share their voices and to be able to advocate for themselves. Ideas flowed through the chat concerning how to help learners lead change in and out of school. Educators are concerned about their learners continuing to grow even after they leave their classroom and continue their education.

The days of learning happening only within the capsule of a classroom for nine months are no longer the norm as students become learners. Today’s learner is learning 24/7 while garnering knowledge from a variety of sources in and outside the classroom walls. It’s natural that learners want to share their voice in their learning and be able to advocate for themselves.

Question 2 in tonight’s chat addressed the crux of our conversation by asking why it is important for learners to have a voice in their learning. Megan Harrington from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation shared this article, “What’s Missing From The Conversation About Education Reform? Student Voices”.

Other educators had this to say about the importance of learners’ voices: 

Jerry Blumengarten @cybraryman1
"Each child learns differently and we have to ask and find out how they learn." 

Mrs. Emily Walsh @Mrs_Walsh_
"Students gain agency and ownership when they have a voice - they WANT to learn."

David Truss @datruss
"Curriculum should be 'uncovered' not covered...

Pam Hubler ‏@specialtechie
"Unpack the standards together, discuss what mastery is, then let them give you a proposal on how to show it."

Travis Works ‏@crcsme
"Learners can choose & unpack their goal > Need to know, evidence, complex reasoning skill, and habit of mind. Let them drive!"

Congratulations to Susan Zanti for winning our book, Make Learning Personal.

Susan Zanti, @SusZanti5, has enjoyed teaching middle school English at both Mercer and J. Michael Lunsford Middle Schools in Loudon County Public Schools, VA. She has served as an LCPS mentor, lead mentor, drama sponsor, PBIS team coach, BTI presenter and Best Practices instructor, homebound and summer school teacher.

Susan is currently in her second year as a Secondary Instructional Coach for Loudoun County Public Schools where she supports teachers in PBL, OTTW, Personalized Learning, Whole Child teaching and learning, alternative learning environments, Instruction and Classroom Management. Susan shared with us that "mentoring and coaching, teaching and learning are my passions, they are not what I do, they are who I am."

"Every relationship you build is a seed planted in the garden of learning, nurture every seed."

Some other resources shared in the chat:

CompetencyWorks ‏@CompetencyWorks shared:
How #teachers at Goodwin #Elementary transitioned to personalized, #competencyed http://ow.ly/4n6Edn

StudentsAtTheCenter ‏@StudentCntrHub
Here’s a PD toolkit to help teachers build motivation, engagement, and #stuvoice http://studentsatthecenterhub.org/resource/motivation-engagement-and-student-voice-toolkit/

iNACOL ‏@nacol
How states build local capacity to implement #personalizedlearning http://ow.ly/Xjh1300eORB

Nellie Mae Foundation @NellieMaeEdFdn shared:
This pretty much sums it up. http://bit.ly/1UYqe0J @dillon_jim

Save the Date

Our next #plearnchat (Continuum of Motivation
Monday, June 6th at 4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST and 7pm EST. 

We archived the entire #plearnchat about Learner Voice below for your convenience and as a resource.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Continuum of Self-Efficacy: Path to Perseverance

Self-efficacy holds significant implications both for learners and educators in the journey to nurture high levels of skill and knowledge. The most difficult and challenging learner to teach is the learner who believes he or she cannot succeed.

Continuum of Self-Efficacy TM by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on work at bit.ly/continuum-self-efficacy * Graphic design by Sylvia Duckworth.

For this learner, developing challenging and complex skills and concepts is a task to be avoided. If success does not come on the first attempt, these learners easily conclude that learning is not possible and abandon their efforts. (Bandura, 1986; Bandura, 1991) Often, learners with a low sense of self-efficacy try to hide and go unnoticed in classes or even misbehave and act out to avoid the embarrassment and pain of being exposed as not being able to learn what is expected of them.


Cautious is when a learner has a difficult time making decisions and trouble believing in themselves. The teacher guides the decisions a learner makes as they voice an idea or opinion about something. The learner may have trouble taking action on any of the ideas they come up with. The learner has concerns about what others think about them and is cautious about making any choices or stepping out of their comfort zone.


Self-Esteem is when learners start believing in themselves and becoming comfortable with who they are as learners. They are also reflecting on their relationships with their teachers, peers, family, and others in the world. They feel better about themselves each time they share their voice and receive positive feedback. When they acquire the skills to make good choices to support their learning, their self-esteem improves.


Self-Confidence is when they believe in their ability, now that they have the skills to make good choices to support their learning. They accept responsibility for all the choices they make. They are intrinsically motivated to voice any concerns or their position on how they learn and other matters. They are confident in guiding their own thoughts, behaviors and emotions in meeting their learning goals.


Perseverance is when learners persist to solve a problem or embrace a challenge. Some call this "grit" where learners develop resilience for rigorous learning. (Kaufman, 2016) Some may even demonstrate stubbornness with a purpose. Failure is viewed as a learning opportunity. They are willing to take risks and are excited about going the extra mile to achieve any goal they set. There are children who are at risk and in poverty who know how to persevere because they need it to survive. They may need to learn how to use their survival skills to help them learn. {Strauss, 2016}

Learners with a strong sense of self-efficacy approach complex and challenging learning tasks with a sense of confidence that if they use good strategies, practice smart persistence and utilize the full range of resources available to them, they can and will succeed. (Wigfield and Wagner, 2005). These learners welcome challenges that stretch their capacity and build their skills. When success is not immediate, they examine their strategies to see if there are more effective approaches to employ. They see learning missteps and setbacks as lessons from which to learn rather than failure and a signal to abandon the struggle. (Rickabaugh, 2015)


Thank You to Sylvia Duckworth @sylviaduckworth (http://sylviaduckworth.com) from Crescent School, Toronto, Canada for designing the graphic of the Continuum of Self-Efficacy 4/18/2016.

*This page including the chart was created by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey of Personalized Learning, LLC (c) on 4/18/16 and published 5/9/16. For permission to adapt, distribute copies, or to use in a publication, contact Personalize Learning, LLC at personalizelearn@gmail.com.

Other Continuums moving to Agency
Continuum of Ownership



Bandura, A. (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Bandura, A. (1991, February) Human agency: The rhetoric and the reality. American Psychologist, 46, 156-161.

Kaufman, Scott (2016, May 10) Review of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Retrieved May, 11, 2016.

Rickabaugh, J. (2015, September 28). Self-Efficacy: The Secret Sauce to Learning Success. Retrieved January 14, 2016.

Strauss, V. (2016, May 10) The problem teaching "Grit" to poor kid? They already have it. Here's what they need.  Washington Post. Retrieved, May 11, 2016.

Wigfield, A., & Wagner , A. L. (2005). Competence and motivation during adolescence. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 222–239). New York: Guilford Press.

Monday, May 2, 2016

UDL: The Lens to Personalize Learning

Tonight’s topic in #plearnchat was particularly important to us as we believe that Universal Design for Learning is the framework to personalize learning. All learners bring to every learning experience a multiplicity of talents, interests, and needs. In fact, neuroscience informs us that each learner's uniqueness is as distinctive as their fingerprints.

Learning for all learners is about access and how learners process information, how they engage with the content and use what they learn, and how they express what they know and understand. Not only is there a variability in learners, there is variability in learning as a learner learns. We have been taught to design learning environments for the average learner.

Learners vary on many dimensions of learning and our current education system is not age-appropriate. Fortunately, UDL guides the design of the environment so that it is flexible enough to address variability. UDL happens both in the design of the learning environment and in the use of the design to facilitate the appropriate, dynamic interaction between the learner and context. We had an engaging discussion about UDL and learning. We came up with six questions and used the Q1, A1 format. 

Here are a few of the tweets that we wanted to share with you where our participants shared their thoughts about UDL as the lens to personalize learning:

Mark Levine @LevineWrites

UDL is like a workshop that demands a myriad of space designs for learning and growing.

Shelly Vohra @raspberryberet3

UDL allows for a more open curriculum; need multiple entry points based in learners’ need; how do they want to learn?

Cheryl Oakes @cheryloakes50

When teachers plan to differentiate, we dictate how the student will access their education. When teachers use UDL the learners have choice.

Carol Frey Reinagel @MrsReinagel

UDL allows the learners to have a voice. We provide curriculum and objectives, the learner provides the pathway.

Congratulations to Patti Flynn for winning our book, Make Learning Personal.

Patti L. Flynn M.S. Ed.is a team at Albemarle High School in Virginia with 10 years of teaching experience. she is endorsed in 6 different areas, and holds a Master of Science in Special Education, and another Master of Science in Educational Leadership. She is a huge music buff, and in her free time enjoys spending time with her children, or watching crime TV.

Follow Patti on Twitter @Ms_PFlynn

Save the Date

Our next #plearnchat is Monday, May 16th at 4pm PST, 5pm MST, 6pm CST and 7pm EST.

We archived the entire #plearnchat about UDL as the lens below for your convenience and as a resource.