Can We Personalize our Grading System?


Grades are often assigned based upon curriculum that looks at the average knowledge of a student base. Students should know X, Y, and Z, by the time they are X-years old. If they don’t, they receive a lower grade.

That is a faulty system for a number of reasons.

1. Students Aren’t Average

gradesTodd Rose, who dropped out of high school with D- grades but now teachers neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, takes a look at this in his book, “The End of Average.” Rose argues against evaluating students using grades as a proper law of average. No one, he argues, is average.

“Then you think of things like the lockstep, grade-based organization of kids, and you end up sitting in a class for a fixed amount of time and get a one-dimensional rating in the form of a grade, and a one-di...

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How Grant Wiggins has Influenced Me

Grant Wiggins

By: Craig Gastauer

I cried. It was during the passing period between the first two block periods of the day as I was checking my text messages and the news stopped me in mid step. “Did Grant Wiggins pass away?” Sure enough, the shocking news blanketed the Twitterverse.

I had met and spoken with Grant many times through UbD workshops and ASCD Conference Sessions. He significantly impacted me as an educator. In fact, my first exposure to the world of educational consultants was my involvement in a UbD conference with Grant and Jay McTighe.

I remember being in awe of their brilliance and wanted to learn as much as possible from them...

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Hand It Over to the Students

Personalized math goals

Jessica Craig is a third grade teacher at Roxborough Intermediate in Littleton, Co., who writes about incorporating personalized learning into her classroom. Educator and consultant Allison Zmuda paid her a visit earlier this year.

By: Jessica Craig

Personalized math goals

Jessica Craig’s students came up with personalized goals to reinvent their math block.

When I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed and I see my weekend and weeknights slipping away, I always ask myself, what am I holding onto that I can, or need, to give over to my students?

I have let my students solve many of my toughest questions and challenges this year, and I have not regretted it once! Each time I am further amazed at their level of engagement, persistence with challenge, and creative thinking!

Math block not working? Let the kids redesign it...

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Empathy is at the Core of Design Thinking

empathy design thinking

empathy design thinkingWhat is design thinking?

Simply speaking, it’s a way to keep us from limiting ourselves through the solution we believe to be true.

Take an example from Daylight Design, a company that collaborated on a project looking to get American kids more physically active.

Daylight surveyed kids, found patterns in the information they gathered, generated design principles, made the principles tangible through prototypes, and then refined, refined, refined, until they found the solution to their initial problem.

The solution is a far cry from simply listening to music to encourage exercise.

“With the Kid Power Band, children go on digital ‘missions’ in other countries,” writes Margaret Rhodes on

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Triptiks Can Rev Up Student-Driven Learning


By Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher

Mike Fisher

This blog was originally posted on MiddleWeb and has been republished on Learning Personalized with permission

In my workshops and my most recent ASCD book, Ditch the Daily Lesson Plan, I advocate for teachers to work smarter, not harder, and to learn how to plan curriculum for contemporary classrooms and contemporary students.

My overriding message is still focused on high levels of student engagement. We also want to be sure we include discovery level learning opportunities that are authentic and timely.

One idea I like to propose for discovery learning is what I call “The Triptik...

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Ask Questions to Two Top Personalized Learning Leaders!

Ask Questions

personalized learning questionsTwo of the top leaders in personalized learning are lending their time to answer your questions. Dr. Eric Chagala, Founding Principal of Vista Innovation & Design Academy (VIDA), and Meghan Ofer, Principal of DCSD Roxborough Intermediate, will spend time with author and education consultant Allison Zmuda to share their expertise in leading the charge for personalized learning.

Dr. Eric Chagala

Dr. Eric Chagala and his staff are recognized for what the innovative work they are doing at VIDA...

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When Students Learn to Choose, They Choose to Learn

student choice
Mike Anderson student choice

Mike Anderson, Leading Great Learning

I was recently working with a group of high school teachers, and they voiced a concern that I’ve heard many times. “Our kids are so compliant,” they groaned. “They don’t have any internal drive at all. They just ask, ‘What do I have to do to get an A?’ or when we try to give them some choice or control over their work, they plead, ‘Can you just tell me what to do?'”

Sadly, this sentiment was echoed by a friend of mine who is a college professor. “My students come without any ideas of their own. They simply want to be told what to do and then do the least amount possible,” she complained. “I’m looking for students who are ready to take a stand — take chances — and the kids I get want me to hold their hand and lay out every detail of their work for them...

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Yes but … how do I balance student interest with Standards?

personalized learning standards

This is my second in the “Yes, but …” series to support the obvious and subtle challenges of moving toward personalized learning. My first addressed the problem of students not buying in to personalized learning.

Yes, but how do I balance what students are interested in and the Standards I am expected to teach?

Personalized learning and Standards have more in common than you think. In recent years, Standards increasingly focus on demonstrated fluency, conceptual understanding, and application. Just to name a few…

  • common core standardsCommon Core Mathematics identifies these three key instructional shifts in the front part of their document as the inspiration of how Standards for Mathematical Practice and Domains of Math work together.
  • Next Generation Science Standards are organized around Science and Engine...
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Epiphany Learning Webinar on Personalized Learning

webinar personalized learning

webinar personalized learningYesterday’s Epiphany Learning webinar on the four keys to personalized learning drummed up a lot of positive chatter on Twitter surrounding education consultant and author Allison Zmuda and Director of The Institute for Personalized Learning Dr. Jim Rickabaugh.

In case you missed the webinar, you can flip through the PDF to see the archived version.

First thing’s first: what is personalized learning?

“Personalized learning is a progressively student-driven model where students deeply engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to demonstrate desired outcomes.” – Zmuda, Curtis and Ullman (2015)

The webinar itself covered the four keys to personalized learning:

  • Establish clarity: Goal clarity helps students focus on a task’s purpose and how it relates to broader aims of schooli...
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How Do You Find Open Educational Resources?

find open educational resources
find open educational resources

Photo: Getty Images

Part of personalized learning is the burden on educators to come up with a customized curriculum. That curriculum includes Open Educational Resources, or OERs, which are resources within the public domain.

The problem with leveraging these resources is that the teachers have to find them, which includes scouring the Internet. As simple as that sounds, we’ve all at one time or another found ourselves down the rabbit hole of web browsing. You intend to read an article on the economy only to find yourself an hour later browsing through a photo gallery of celebrities who have had plastic surgery.

As silly as that sounds, just as much time can be wasted when we’re fully intentional with our web browsing...

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