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How to Personalize Learning

How to Personalize Learning
A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper

Foreword by Luis Perez

Additional resources:

December 2016 | 208 pages | Corwin

HOW to Personalize Learning

This practical follow-up to Bray and McClaskey’s first book, Make Learning Personal: The What, Who, Wow, Where, and Whybrings theory to practice. Teachers will find the tools, skills, and strategies needed to personalize learning and develop self-directed, independent learners with agency.

Discover how to get started and go deeper by building a shared vision that supports personalized learning using the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework. Also included are:

  • Tools and templates such as the Learner Profile, Personal Learning Backpack, Personal Learning Plan, as well as tips for lesson design and PBL
  • Lesson and project examples that show how teachers can change instructional practice by encouraging learner voice and choice
  • QR codes and links to the authors’ website for electronic versions of tools, templates, activities, and checklists

Create a powerful shift in education by building a culture of learning so every learner is valued. 

"If you are looking for a step-by-step guide on what personalized learning is and how to implement it, while being inspired and gaining ideas to implement immediately, this is definitely the book to read!"
Diana Petschauer, Assistive Technology Professional, CEO
AT for Education & Access4Employment, Wolfeboro Falls, NH

“Barbara and Kathleen present well-tested strategies for personalization within a coherent framework. This highly practical book forms a reliable foundation for empowering a community striving to make schools work for all learners.”
John H. Clarke, Professor Emeritus, University of Vermont

Looking for extra resources? Check out the Personalize Learning website for more content!
About the Authors
1. Build a Common Language
Define Personalized Learning

Shared Vision

Shared Beliefs

2. How Learners Learn Best
UDL Principles and Guidelines

Access, Engage, and Express

Develop the Expert Learner

3. Develop Learner Agency







4. Discover the Learner in Every Child
Who I Am as a Learner

Learner Profile (LP)

Personal Learning Backpack (PLB)

Personal Learning Plan (PLP)

5. Personalize Learning for a Whole Class
Class Learning Snapshot (CLS)

Class Learning Toolkit (CLT)

6. Lesson Design With All Learners in Mind
Four-Step UDL Lesson Review Process

UDL Solutions and Strategies

Lesson Design

7. Delve Into Deeper Learning
Project-Based Learning

Key Understandings and Learning Standards

Driving Questions

Meaningful and Relevant Focus

Assessment AS Learning

Reflection Makes Learning Visible

8. Learner Agency Across the Stages
Stages of Personalized Learning Environments (PLE) and Learner Agency

Crosswalk of Learner Agency Across the Stages of PLE

9. Create a Culture of Learning
Nurture a Positive School Culture

Build a Culture of Learning

Redesign the Learning Environment

Connect the Dots

Create a Rationale to Personalize Learning



"Educators must change their perspectives of both teaching and learning to be in a position to grow citizens prepared to thrive and excel in our changing world. This field guide lays out the foundation for both leadership and classroom practitioners to begin this journey by understanding the changing landscape and providing practical applications of personalized learning pedagogy."

Cynthia Dunlap, M.Ed, Educational Technology Consultant

"In this compact and powerful book, Kathleen McClaskey and Barbara Bray offer teaching teams, school leadership groups and whole faculties a way to engage learners in managing their own learning. Writing for use in workshops or whole-school professional development initiatives, Bray and McClaskey present well-tested strategies for personalization within a coherent framework. The book begin with background ideas for personalization, but moves quickly into specific exercises that any group can use to organize a personalization initiative one step at a time. Each section includes illustrations and 'conversation starters' that gather individuals toward shared understanding of collaborative school development, allowing teachers to apply and adapt effective practices together. I see How to Personalize Learning creating a comprehensive guide for managing a long and complex process, preparing all learners to assess themselves, build skills, work toward personal and academic goals – and build the skills and knowledge that help them move toward a future they discover for themselves. This is a highly practical book that forms a reliable foundation for empowering any school community striving to make our schools work for all learners."

John H. Clarke, Professor Emeritus, Author of Personalized Learning
University of Vermont

How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper is the comprehensive, step-by-step guide to personalizing learning. But, moreover, this book is a transformative treatise for all levels on catalyzing enhanced efficacy—from community culture to the classroom learner—so that personalized learning becomes a reality in even the most traditional classrooms. Whether you are the community member that dares to think differently or the classroom teacher that knows deep down that something just isn’t working, How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper is the seminal book to get you started on your personalized learning journey.”

Patrick Riley, Cognitive Coach
Green River Regional Educational Cooperative: kid-FRIENDLy, Race to the Top-District Grant

"Kathleen and Barbara have already inspired us to Make Learning Personal: The What, Who, WOW, Where, and Why, but now they have given us some points of entry that we can start with tomorrow in How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper. The What, Who, WOW, Where, and Why now have an important next step for teachers wanting to put learning back into the hands of the learner."

John Parker, Chief Technology Innovation Officer
Cherokee County Schools, NC

"Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey continue to demonstrate how they are two of the leading ladies of personalized learning with their practical and positive portrayal of a learner-centered approach to education. They combine the research base of our profession with evidence based models of educational practitioners around the country to clearly illustrate what it means to personalize learning.  Barbara and Kathleen have captured the essence of next practices over best practices by providing a timely "how-to" manual for preparing community, college, and career ready learners who understand they are in charge of their own learning. How to Personalize Learning:  A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper provides a highly interactive approach to professional learning, with numerous activities and web-based links to enrich the readers experience.  What I appreciate and admire with Barbara and Kathleen's new book is their relentless emphasis on the practical steps educators can take to transform their classroom and school for the benefit of the learner.  The book is conducive to professional learning community team studies or for individual educator reading and reflection, but both with the intent and practical steps to transform how teaching and learning take place in your context. I am excited to place this companion book to Barbara and Kathleen's Make Learning Personal, in the hands of everyone of our teachers for the purpose of creating passionate and purpose-driven learners who are in control of their own learning.  How to Personalize Learning is the perfect read for an individual educator or team of educators whose goal is to prepare learners who will take control of their own learning as preparation for taking control of their own life as an adult."

Bryan Bronn, Principal
Branson Junior High

"Bray and McClaskey's first book, Make Learning Personal, does an outstanding job of defining personalized learning, developing common language and making a strong case for WHY this is good for our learners. This book is the perfect companion as it serves as a practical guide that moves educators from the abstract to the concrete, delving into the HOW to personalize learning. The examples, resources and activities are designed to guide educators through a transformation from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered environment where all learners can thrive."

Betty Wottreng, Director of Technology Services
Verona Area School District

“Fundamentally different from other Personalized Learning books, and hands-down the best! How to Personalize Learning is a user’s guide designed by experts who personally & professionally relate; Kathleen and Barbara simply 'get it.' The expertise and knowledge as well as personal experience shines through in this user friendly and practical guide for implementation of personalized learning. I love what they have done to make significant and much needed change less threatening and more useful for teachers. (They know how to teach learners, including adults reading this book)! In particular, the visuals, charts, matrices, and how-to guides are so user friendly and informative, this is what every educator wants for their learner, and how to make it happen, with support! This book provides teachers with a tool to refocus and keep their best practices while helping them to identify those areas of instruction where shifts need to occur, and the 'how to' to make it happen!  So inspiring, engaging and motivational, and the companion website for technology and sharing is awesome!”

Diana Petschauer, ATP, CEO
AT for Education,

"Bray and McClaskey are arguably the foremost champions for personalizing learning. How to Personalize Learning: A Practical Guide for Getting Started and Going Deeper will be the compendium to personalize learning and a guiding light for educators as they navigate their journey with their learners to personalize learning. The tools, rich examples and insights included in the book will be instrumental in the transformation of students into learners. The current education climate is moving away from the one-size-fits-all learning environment that we have all endured through generations of schooling. Barbara and Kathleen have penned the antidote to what ails the current traditional educational system."

Pam Lowe, Educator & Education Consultant/Coach, Author of Missouri Then & Now: Activity Book

"Barbara and Kathleen have done it again! This book provides such essential explanations and tools that any person reading it should be able to immediately construct their personalized instruction and learning environment. The multiple options for activities help teachers apply their personal preferences to more deeply connect with this work. This book even further demonstrates how important it is to make learning personal."

Kecia Ray, Executive Director
Center for Digital Education

“Your learning journey about creating and sustaining personalized learning environments just became so much easier! Bray and McClaskey’s field guide provides a clear and well signposted path forward to transforming any learner’s journey. As an experienced educator and professional development consultant, I found their book immensely readable, incredibly practical and bursting with useful models, strategies and activities to move educators from just discussing ideas about personalized learning to actively implementing and growing a personalized learning culture. It really is THE Rosetta Stone of personalized learning. No other resource so deftly distills the WHAT and the WHY with the HOW TO of personalized learning.”

Greg Alchin, Inclusive Learning Design Consultant

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ISBN: 9781506338538