Personal Learning Backpack: Empower Learners with the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express

Part 2 of the 3 Part Series on Using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage, and Express to empower learners.

Once a learner has indicated their strengths, challenges, and interests along with their preferences and needs in the Learner Profile (LP), then the teacher can work with the learner to develop a Personal Learning Backpack (PLB).

Personal Learning BackPack

This infogCreative Commons Licenseraphic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This infographic will be available for purchase in early January 2018!

 

The UDL Lens: Access, Engage, and Express

The PLB using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) lens is for ALL learners. It is about teachers understanding how learners access information, engage with content, and express what they know and understand. This lens is also for the learner to understand how they learn best. It validates the learner and prompts conversations about their learning between the teacher and learner. To understand this process and how tools, resources, strategies and skills can support learning,  this table was created as prompts for the learner to effectively use Access, Engage, and Express.
Access Engage Express prompts

When you identify how you learn best using the Learner Profile (LP), the next step is to determine what you prefer or need to do or use to support your learning using the PLB.

The PLB Process using Preferences and Needs

The PLB includes the tools, apps and resources that can be used to support learning plus the learning strategies and skills that he or she can develop to become an independent expert learner.

This process is all about the conversations that you have with your learners. The PLB is the place to include what you both discover to support learning. If a learner has indicated in the LP that he or she would like to learn how to use a tool or app to support a challenge or a strength, then this can be included in the PLB. Let’s first review the learner and her preferences and needs for Access, Engage, and Express that we described in Part 1 on the Learner Profile.

Preferences and Needs for ACCESS ENGAGE AND EXPRESS

When the teacher and the learner sit down together to review the preferences and needs, they build a story around how her strengths, challenges and interests impact how she learns from their conversations. This is where they can design the PLB based on her talents as an artist and her passion for drawing along with her aspirations to become a teacher or business leader when she grows up. She also mentioned that she would like to learn about social media and create a logo to showcase her artwork. These types of conversations validate her as a learner and confirm that the teacher really listened to about her strengths and challenges and her love for art.

Empower Learners to Build their PLB with the
UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express

The PLB is where the teacher and learner pull together ideas for resources, tools, apps, and learning strategies and skills to support learning. Below is a chart with examples for tools, apps, learning strategies and skills that could support Access, Engage, and Express for this learner.
Personal Learning Backpack apps for access engage and express

To determine what skills or strategies the learner needs to acquire, she had to really think about both her strengths and challenges. She loves to draw but needs help with taking notes. So the teacher helped her decide to use her strength (drawing) to help her visualize what she was capturing using different note taking tools. As soon as the learner started sharing what she wanted or needed to learn, she opened up about needing a speech to text tool to help her with writing. Dragon Dictation can help her write down her thoughts. This process guides the learner to determine what she wants and needs to build her skills to become successful as a learner.

Every conversation the teacher has with learners can open a new door or bring up new ideas that may reduce any barriers they may have and can maximize learning for them so they can become independent, self-directed learners with agency.

This post is one example describing a process for the LP and PLB for an older child with higher executive functioning. This same process can be adapted by changing the language for a younger child or any learner who is at-risk or been identified with learning challenges. It is all about the conversations between the teacher and learner. If there is a language barrier or confusion about the process, this is an issue that the teacher can address by revising the LP and PLB with audio options, graphics, simpler language, or even translations. A young child may need help in understanding what he or she is being asked. A teacher can invite a parent to join in the discussions.

Developing Learning Goals

The PLB is the first step in identifying learning goals. Each of the learning strategies and skills the learner wants or needs to learn can be developed into learning goals in a Personal Learning Plan (PLP).  In the PLP, learning goals with action steps to develop independent learning skills will be illustrated along with college, career, personal and citizenship goals. These steps and the PLP will be explained in more detail in Part Three of this series.

 

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Part One describes the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express TM and introduces the Learner Profile (LP) and how it can be used by both teacher and learner to discover the learner.

Part Two explains how to take the Learner Profile and develop a Personal Learning Backpack (PLB) that includes tools, apps, resources and the skills the learner needs to become an independent, self-directed learner.

In Part Three, I will take the LP and PLB and demonstrate how to help every learner develop agency with an effective Personal Learning Plan (PLP).

All of this along with similar templates are in Chapter 4 of our new publication, How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper. 

 

The Story Behind My Passion to Personalize Learning

 This is my story behind my passion, beliefs and commitment to personalize learning.
– Kathleen McClaskey, Co-Founder of Personalize Learning, LLC, Founder of Make Learning Personal.

 

This story needs to be told. I am passionate about learners and learning! I believe that every child on the planet is a learner! I am committed to help schools create learning environments where every child can become life long learners and realize their hopes and dreams!  You could say that I am on a mission. But why has personalized learning become my passion and mission in my life? There is a very personal story that begins over 38 years ago when a little boy came into my life, my first-born son. He was an active toddler who spoke early and could engage you in long conversations about his imaginary world. He had a sense of adventure when he explored the outdoors and could create new worlds in his drawings. Early on he had a love for animals, fishing and books about history.

He entered school with all these wonderful qualities with a love for learning and discovery.  His experience as a first grader was a difficult one with his teacher using the whole language method for reading. Before the end of 1st Grade, he would be identified with learning disabilities. Although he was identified exceptional in math, he would never be recognized with this gift or any of his aspirations, talents and interests. 

You see, they now saw him as learning disabled in all aspects of his learning from this time forward.



In 2nd Grade, he came home crying every day asking me why he was different. I called a friend who was the guidance counselor in the school where my son attended. She observed him for 30 minutes one day in his class and took minute to minute notes of his activity in the classroom. She shared with me that my son could only keep pencil to paper for only 30 seconds at any one time. It was no wonder he saw himself as different but I thought that this must have a name to it. It did. In 1987, my son’s pediatrician who had extensive professional experience with children with attentional issues verified through evaluations that my first-born was ADHD. This would be another label that he would be identified with every day as he entered school. It was in 2nd Grade that he stopped being a learner. He would now have instructional aides who would read to him, write for him and organize him in his daily tasks.

The reason I am telling this story is that although my son had an IEP and annual goals, he was never taught how to read or to develop independent learning skills. His exceptional memory skills for words helped him mask his inability to decode words. In 7th Grade, that strategy fell apart. We needed to find an answer so we hired an independent evaluator who conducted a battery of tests and finally applied the appropriate identification of his reading challenges, dyslexia. With this new identification came extensive recommendations on how to rehabilitate my son in reading. In was not until he was in 9th grade that the school district decided they could not provide the services to help him read so they agreed to an out-of-district placement. We sent him to a private school for dyslexics, 200 miles away from our home in New York, so that he could finally learn to read. In less than six months, he was reading at grade level as they used the Orton-Gillingham reading methodology to teach him to read. In fact, a proven method that can teach every child to read. In 1998 he graduated from The Kildonan School with a high school diploma.

Years later when my son was 22 years old, we had a discussion about what he experienced in school and how he felt. This is something he never spoke about during his years in school as he was often depressed and angry. His response was brief and to the point: “You know Mom, I felt stupid every day of my life in school!” After this moment, I knew that I would be on a mission for the rest of my life to help schools and teachers understand how to create learning environments where every learner can become self-directed in learning.

My passion is built into my heart,
my belief that every learner matters is resolute and
my commitment to transform education so that every learner
realizes their hopes and dreams is unwavering.

Discover the Learner in Every Child

I look back now on this experience with my son and know that he is one of virtually millions of children who stop seeing themselves as learners and who often feel stupid in school. So how do we begin to discover the learner in every child? Most importantly, how do we have every learner understand how they learn best? You decide. With labels or through the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express TM?

http://www.personalizelearning.com/2014/12/access-engage-and-express-lens-for.html


Remove the veil of disability and you will see the learner! – Kathleen McClaskey (2008)
Access, Engage and Express is a trademark of Kathleen McClaskey.
Cross posted and revised from http://www.personalizelearning.com/2015/05/the-story-behind-my-passion-to.html

Make Learning Personal

To

Make Learning Personal, we need…

to empower each learner with the skills to be Future Ready,

to transform teaching and learning practice, and

to embrace and value each learner!

Make Learning Personal logo

This puzzle logo with it’s multi-shades of blue represents that each learner is unique and multi-faceted in that they learn in different ways.  We see the importance for each learner to understand how they learn so that they can develop agency with the skills, knowledge and dispositions to have choices in college, career and life.

 

MLP Vision

Each learner…

  • is valued, supported and embraced.
  • understands how they learn.
  • is unique and develops the skills to support their learning.
  • advocates for their learning.
  • works at their own pace in a competency-based system.
  • follows their passions to discover their purpose.
  • takes ownership to their learning.
  • achieves agency.

MLP Mission

  • Empower each learner to be future ready with agency.
  • Support the transformation of schools to build and sustain personalized learning environments.
  • Create conversations and a community that supports personalized, learner-centered teaching.
  • Share research, resources and best practices of personalized learning across the globe.

MLP Core Beliefs

  • Every person on the planet is a learner!
  • Personalized Learning starts with the learner!
  • Personalized Learning and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) are the cornerstones to developing learner agency for every learner.
  • Learners need to be promised agency as they enter the schoolhouse door.
  • Every learner needs to use the UDL Lens for their Learner Profile to help them share their strengths and challenges in how they access information, engage with content and express what they know and understand along with their passions, interests and talents.
  • Each educator needs to discover the learner in every child by using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express(TM).
  • When learners understand how they learn, they can begin to self-advocate and have voice and choice in their learning.
  • Each learner needs to develop a Personal Learning Backpack of skills, tools and resources to support their own learning.
  • Every learner needs to have a Personal Learning Plan to set goals and action steps, to measure their own progress and to reflect on their goals.
  • Learners need to work at their own pace in a learner-centered,  competency-based environment.
  • Learning spaces need to be designed to support the diversity of learners in the classroom.
  • Teachers are learners too so their professional learning needs to be personalized.
  • Technology can level the playing field by removing the barriers to learning and by creating opportunities for learning.
  • Personalized learning is based on relationships and a culture of trust and respect.
  • Use the term “learners” to describe anyone instead of referring to them as “students” that comes from the traditional system.
  • Schools need to create a culture and community of learners.
  • Learning is personal so Make Learning Personal!