Learner vs. Student: Who Do you Want in Your Classroom?

It is the start of the school year and you have been preparing to have your assigned children enter your classroom. You have so many questions about them but one you may have not thought about is: Are they students or learners? Think about that… do you want students or learners in your classroom this year? What is the difference anyway? Well let’s take a look at the difference and have you decide for yourself.

Learner vs. Student

We are at a crossroads in education where we understand that traditional school systems are not preparing our children for a world where they will need to learn, unlearn and relearn in an ever-changing economy. As we try to create more personalized, learner-centered environments, it is important to understand that we need to change the language so we can change the culture in the classroom and school. Using the term “Learner” is a critical first step so that we see every child and every person as a learner. So what is the difference between a learner and a student? Let’s look at the definitions:

From Wikipedia, “A student is primarily a person enrolled in a school or other educational institution who attends classes in a course to attain the appropriate level of mastery of a subject under the guidance of an instructor and who devotes time outside class to do whatever activities the instructor assigns that are necessary either for class preparation or to submit evidence of progress towards that mastery.”

From Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, a learner is “a person who is finding out about a subject or how to do something.”

From The Glossary of Education Reform, when comparing learner and student, they point out that “While this preference may seem arbitrary on the surface, it does appear to serve a semantic purpose: learning can occur in the absence of teaching, but teaching doesn’t occur without some form of learning taking place. i.e.,

learners can learn without teachers, but students are only students when they have teachers.”

Now take a look at the comparisons in the chart and decide on the qualities you would like for the children in your classroom to have. This is not a comprehensive comparison of Learners vs Students but it does offer an initial comparison on what the distinct differences are and what qualities would be found in a traditional vs personalized learning system. If you have decided you want learners in your classroom, then the question you need to consider exploring is….

How can I create a classroom culture in which being a learner is more valuable than being a student?

Empower Learners with the UDL LensThe simple answer is to empower your learners to share their story of who they are and how they learn! Have your learners use the UDL Lens to develop a Learner Profile, based on the learning sciences, to discover their strengths and challenges, preferences and needs in the what, how and why of their learning. Value every learner by building a strong relationship with each of them. Help them develop learning goals in a Personal Learning Plan so that they can gain the skills to be agents of their own learning. Reflect with each learner so they can realize the progress they are making with their goals. When you do this, your classroom culture will be filled with learners who are future ready!

 

 

 

 

 

Learner Profiles: Stop Using Learning Styles, Start Using the Learning Sciences

We are embarking on an era of transformational change in education where we have a vision of creating learner-centered environments where learners pursue their passions and interests and develop agency with the knowledge, skills and dispositions so they are future ready for careers yet to be imagined. The question is:

Why are we still using the traditional approach of learning styles to develop learner profiles?

Let’s take at the research and what it says about learning styles.

 

Why Stop Using Learning Styles?

As we are transforming education from the traditional teacher-centered environments to a personalized, learner-centered environment we need to reconsider the learning styles approach that has no basis in research. Classroom teachers and academics have been using learning styles for over four decades to understand learners. During this time the notion that teaching methods should match a learner’s particular learning style has had a powerful influence in education, however, a study published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest challenged the concept of learning styles and their affect on performance.

Despite the preponderance of the learning styles concept “from kindergarten to graduate school,” and a “thriving industry” devoted to such guidebooks for teachers, Pashler found there wasn’t rigorous evidence for the concept. He wrote:

Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis. We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice.

The four prominent cognitive psychologists in this study found no evidence for validating educational applications of learning styles into general education practice. This was their conclusion:

Research conducted over 40 years has failed to show that individual attributes can be used to guide effective teaching practice. Rather than being a harmless fad, learning styles often perpetuates stereotyping and harmful teaching practices it is suppose to fight.” (Pashler et al, 2009).

So as schools move from a traditional system to a personalized, competency-based system, we need to evaluate the traditional tools we have used around learners and learning and teachers and teaching, and understand how a learning science can be used to nurture and build a culture of learning.

 

Start Using the Learning Sciences and the UDL Lens


Empower learners with the UDL lens

We need to stop using learning styles and start using Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a research-based set of principles based on the learning sciences to guide the design of learning environments and innovative sustainable systems that are accessible and effective for all learners. UDL tells us that there is variability in the way each learner learns: their strengths, challenges, aptitudes, talents, and aspirations.

The UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ is designed so that we see the learner in every child. It offers key information about the learner’s strengths and challenges in how they access and process information, how they engage with content and how they express what they know and understand. The terms Access, Engage and Express also serves as the “common language” between teacher and learner where daily conversations can take place about learning with a process to identify the tools and skills that could support a challenge or enhance a strength in their Personal Learning Backpack™. This leads to a Personal Learning Plan™ (PLP) where each learner can set goals to acquire the necessary skills to become an independent and self-directed learner, a learner with agency that has ownership to their learning.

 

Ownership to learning requires the learner to understand how they learn.

Empower Learners with the UDL Lens

Start the next school year with having every learner create a Learner Profile. From the learner’s perspective, the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ in a Learner Profile would give him or her an opportunity tell their story of who they are and how they learn by:

  • sharing their strengths, challenges, preference and needs in how they access and process information, engage with content and concepts, and express what they know and understand;
  • express their interests, talents, aspirations and passions;
  • set learning goals and actionable plans with teachers to support a challenge or enhance a strength; and
  • have regular conversations about their learning with teachers, peers, and parents.

Let’s take a closer look at the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ and how a learner can share how they learn by using a Learner Profile (LP) that also includes their interests, talents, passions, aspirations and the words that would describe them.

The information in the Learner Profile (LP) helps each learner tell their story and how they learn with their teacher. This is the foundation from which conversations, relationships and partnerships in learning are built. What are the possible messages and outcomes from a learner using the Learner Profile?

  • It helps validate the learner and how they learn.
  • It tells the learner that you care about who they are.
  • It creates a community of learners based on trust and respect.

“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” – Dr. James Comer

 

3 stepprocess to develop agencyTo learn more about how to personalize learning and the three-step process of the Learner Profile, Personal Learning Backpack™ and Personal Learning Plan™, refer to How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper by Bray and McClaskey (2016) or the blog posts on the Learner Profile, Personal Learning Backpack and Personal Learning Plan.

 

 

 

Access, Engage and Express, Personal Learning Backpack and Personal Learning Plan are trademarks of Kathleen McClaskey.

Reference: Paschler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., and Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9, 105-119.  https://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf


Personal Learning Plan: Empowering Learners™ to be Future Ready

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

Just imagine learners turning challenges they have into strengths! Consider those same learners enhancing their strengths so they are self-confident in what and how they learn. Wouldn’t it be great if your learners were able to set their own goals to explore careers and determine what experiences they need to be college and career ready?

This post is the last part of the three-part process for all learners of any age to build agency so they become independent and self-directed learners.

Hopes and dreams quote

Your learners shared with you how they learn best using the Learner Profile (LP). Your conversations with your learners when using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) lens of Access, Engage and Express™ describing their strengths, challenges, preferences and needs in how they learn helped them decide what to include in their Personal Learning Backpack (PLB). You collaborated with your learners to choose the skills, tools and apps that can enhance their strengths and support their challenges they have in accessing and processing information, engaging with content and expressing what they know and understand.

The next step in the process is to help each learner develop the skills to be an independent, self-directed learner with agency. The Personal Learning Plan is where the learner defines goals, describes actions steps, and indicates a way to measure progress and achievement.

 

Introducing the Personal Learning Plan

The purpose of a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) is to assist learners to develop goals with a set of action steps to achieve those goals, ways to monitor their own progress, show evidence in reaching the goal and a reflection on achieving it. The PLP has four specific focuses:

  • Learning Goals (Access, Engage and Express) to develop independent skills to support their own learning;
  • Personal Goals to explore their interests, talents, or passions;
  • College and Career Goals to gain first-hand experiences in career areas where they have strong interests; and
  • Citizenship Goals to become an active citizen in the local or global community.

Personal Learning Plan


Learning Goals for Skill Development

In Part 1 (LP) and Part 2 (PLB) of this series, the learner shared one of her Express challenges was that she found it difficult to put her thoughts on paper, and that she needed a speech-to-text (STT) tool to help her write her thoughts down. She has seen that tool being used by other learners but would like to learn how to use it on her own. She works with her teacher to describe the Express Learning Goal along with a set of action steps to learn the speech-to-text tool, ways to measure progress and showing evidence in reaching her goal and finally a reflection on achieving the goal.

Express goal action steps reflection

On reflection, she has taken a challenge she has had for a while and has now learned new skills so she can independently write her assignments. What a great feeling she has in achieving a goal she set for herself! Her next focus is on a personal goal. Let’s take a look back at how she described her interests, talents and passions to illustrate what a personal goal would be.

 

Personal Goals to Explore Interests, Talents, and Passions

For this learner, having a personal goal that she can focus on gives her an opportunity to explore what she has only dreamed about doing.

Interests, talents, and passions: I love drawing and want to take more art classes in different mediums. I am interested in helping others and maybe can see myself as a teacher or a business leader when I grow up. I am starting to learn about social media and may even look at starting to create a logo and website to showcase my artwork.

Setting a personal goal and taking actions to meet that goal ignites engagement and encourages ownership to learning. Her personal goal is to create a logo and website to feature her artwork. The action steps to help meet this goal can include:

  • Consult with art/design teacher on personal goal.
  • Create several logo designs.
  • Invite art/design teacher to help her choose the best design.
  • Prepare artwork to display on the website.
  • Locate low or no cost websites and review features and specs to display artwork.

She decided with her teacher that her evidence in reaching this goal would be featuring her artwork with written and audio narratives on a website with her self-designed logo. Next, she wants to focus on her college and career goals.

 

College and Career Goals to Pursue Opportunities

The high school where this learner attends offers Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs). She is excited to have an opportunity to teach art with younger learners in her town. She meets with her ELO Coordinator and begins outlining the action steps that include:

  • Discover who are the elementary art teachers in the local and adjacent schools.Hearts on Fire
  • Develop a proposal outlining her goals for an art teacher mentorship.
  • Decide on two art teachers and set up a time for an interview to share goals of the mentorship.
  • Begin mentorship with art teacher and coordinate a schedule.

This experience of being mentored by two art teachers helps this learner make college and career decisions about going into this profession. During the mentorships, she created a visual portfolio of her experiences in the classrooms on her website with audio to show evidence of reaching her goal for college and career.

Realizing that she enjoys working with younger children and learning from her mentors, she was inspired to look at ways to give back to the community since she received so much help from others.

 

Citizenship Goals to Contribute to our Democracy

A Citizenship Goal contributes to a learner’s understanding that a democracy thrives when you are an active citizen in the community. This learner meets with her teacher/advisor to discuss how she would like to give back to the community by being actively involved with the local food pantry. Now that she has decided on the goal, she discusses what her action steps could be.

  • Meet with the food pantry coordinator to discuss how she could contribute and the time she could commit.
  • Make up signs to post at local businesses and schools.
  • Collect non-perishable food for the food pantry.
  • Organize food at the pantry for distribution.

She decides that one of the best ways to show that she has reached her goal is to share her experiences on her website and invite her peers to join her in working with her at the food pantry.

Learner Agency and Future Ready

Learner Agency means that someone has developed the skills to become an independent, self-directed learner. A learner with agency is a learner who is future readyThis learner has created her Learner Profile (LP) using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express to identify her strengths, challenges, interests, talents, and passions. The Personal Learning Backpack (PLB) defines the skills. strategies, tools, and apps that will help her become an independent learner.

Future Ready means that the learner knows how to set her own goals, develop action steps and show evidence in achieving these goals. The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) guides the learner in gaining the skills and experiences she needs to support her learning and make choices for college and career. This post provided one example using an older learner who turned her challenges into strengths and enhanced her strengths so she developed the self-confidence to follow her passion for art and in helping others.

We want you to know that you can build a learner with agency at any age by using this three-step process. We provide an example of an older child only as a model for you. Consider building a relationship right away with young children by starting with a Learner Profile. Get to know your kids and how they learn using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express. Have them share with you their preferences and needs and build a Personal Learning Backpack with them. Then encourage them to choose and set goals with your guidance. Just imagine what your kids can do when they have the confidence in how they learn and that they know how to set goals for themselves. This is the Wow! of learning that we all want for our kids.

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

Part Two explained 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.

Part Three describes how you can take the Learner Profile and Personal Learning Backpack to to develop goals an effective Personal Learning Plan (PLP) so that each learner can develop agency and gain the personal experiences make decisions for college and career and to be future ready.

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

 

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Empowering Learners, Personal Learning Backpack, Personal Learning Plan, UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express are trademarks of Kathleen McClaskey.

This post was revised and updated from http://www.personalizelearning.com/2016/09/the-personal-learner-profile-goal.html

 

 

Personal Learning Backpack: Empowering 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 2019!

 

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.

Empowering 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.

 

UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express, Empowering Learners and Personal Learning Backpack and Personal Learning Plan are trademarks of Kathleen McClaskey.

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Part One describes the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Expressand 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. 

 

Empowering Learners™ with The Learner Profile

Part 1 of the 3 Part Series on Using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage, and Express to empower learners.

The excitement in starting a new school year is happening across the country. Educators have spent the summer preparing for the beginning of the school year, attending workshops on new curriculum, understanding how to use data with their new learners or getting acquainted with competency-based report cards. But stop there! What about the information that tells you how to engage and motivate your learners? How do you discover the learner in each child from the beginning of the school year so this is the best year yet? What about how each learner learns best and how to develop agency with each of them?

The Process to Develop Learner Agency

This post is part one of a three-part process that uses the UDL Lens to Make Learning Personal for all learners. If we want to create learner-centered environments where the learner takes ownership to their learning, then we need to empower each learner to understand how they learn.

Learner Profile Personal Learning Backpack Personal Learning Plan

 

Part One: The Learner Profile (LP) helps learners discover how they learn best.

Part Two: The Personal Learning Backpack (PLB) identifies tools, apps, resources, skills, and strategies for learners to support their own learning.

Part Three: The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) guides learners to achieve the goals and skills they need to be self-directed and independent along with pursuing their passions and aspirations as they plan for college or career.

 

The UDL Lens: Access, Engage and Express

Universal Design for Learning® (UDL) is a researched-based set of principles developed by CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) in the 1990’s to help guide the design of instruction and learning environments. The idea behind UDL is to reduce barriers to learning and optimize the level of support and challenges to meet the needs and interests of all learners in the classroom. In December 2015, UDL was included in ESSA where it was it indicated that it was the scientifically-based approach to personalize learning.

UDL is the lens to understand how learners learn as it is based on the research in the neurosciences in how we actually learn. The three principles of UDL are:UDL lens of access engage and expres

  • Multiple Means of Representation
  • Multiple Means of Engagement
  • Multiple Means of Expression and Action

Educators wanted to understand these terms so that they could apply these three principles in daily teaching and learning practices.

In 2013 the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ was created to do just that; to empower the learner with the UDL Lens so they could understand how they learn. All learners are unique and have variability in how they access and process information, engage with content, and express what they know and understand.  Access, Engage, and Express™ is the UDL Lens to help learners how they learn and to guide teachers in universally designing their instruction.

Discover the Learner Using The Learner Profile

Each learner comes to school with strengths  and challenges along with a set of interests, talents and aspirations. We often discover some of these qualities through the course of the year by having conversations, by how each learner responds in class or through a set of data that has been collected from standardized testing. But what if you could discover the learner in every child at the beginning of the school year using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™?

Every learner can benefit from creating a Learner Profile. It tells us about a learner that learning styles or an Individual Education Plan (IEP) does not tell us. Here is an example of a learner that may have similar challenges as some of your learners, but we want you to look closely at this learner’s strengths along with his interests, talents, passions and aspirations.

Now think about the learners in your class and in your life. What are their strengths and challenges in how they Access, Engage and Express™? How do they need or prefer or need to access information, engage with content and express what they know and understand? What are their talents, interests, passions, and aspirations? Who are you as a learner?

Using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ to understand learners can not only help a teacher to better design instruction and learner materials, but first we need to empower the learner to tell their story and how they learn best.

Your Learner’s Story Leads to a Partnership in Learning

The Learner Profile using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express

This learner has reading, writing and organizational challenges. Children with this profile often do not see themselves as learners. In this case, when this learner uses the Learner Profile, he can now tell his story and have a conversation with his teacher about who he is and what he may prefer or need to support his challenges and enhance his strengths. He can also share what his interest and talents are, what he is passionate about and what he aspires to be. It is really clear from his LP, that art and drawing means a lot to him.

Let’s take a closer look at his strengths where he visualizes what he hears, likes to teach his peers and present in class. Now we understand this learner’s strengths and challenges, preferences and needs including what engages him about being an artist. With this first conversation, the relationship between teacher and learner begins.

When learners use the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ to share how they learns, it helps them tell their story of who they are as learners. Above all, it validates them as learners and listening to them says how much you care. Telling their story helps them develop self advocates of their learning and ultimately it builds a strong partnership in learning between the teacher and learners.

What a great way to start of the school year! It is going to be the best year yet!

 

The Learner Profile (LP) helps each learner tell their story and how they learn with their teacher. This is the foundation from which conversations, relationships and partnerships in learning are built.
Locate the “The Learner Profile Using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express” Infographic under the Toolkit menu.

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

Creative Commons License

This post was adapted from a previous post published at http://www.personalizelearning.com/2016/08/the-learner-profile-get-up-close-and.html

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This is Part One of a three part on using the UDL Lens of Access, Engage and Express™ to develop a learner with agency. We have introduced you to the Learner Profile (LP) and how it can be used by both teacher and learner to discover the learner. 


In Part Two, we will 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; a learner with agency


In Part Three, we will take the PL and PLB and demonstrate how to help learners develop agency with an effective 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. 


All of this along with templates can be located in Chapter 4 of How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper.

Universal Design for Learning is a registered trademark of CAST, Inc.  Access, Engage and Express is a trademark of Kathleen McClaskey. Empowering Learners is a trademark of Kathleen McClaskey.


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!