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Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning
Student-Designed Pathways to High School Graduation

Foreword by Joseph DiMartino

April 2013 | 240 pages | Corwin

Your guide to making a whole-school move toward personalized learning

Give students the freedom to map their own educational pathways and help them meet graduation standards! This book illustrates how to support students to take advantage of resources from the community, colleges, virtual platforms, and creative outlets to design their own education. Readers will:

  • Hear from educators who have successfully steered schools toward personalized learning
  • Get specific tips to help your entire staff implement key processes and measure outcomes
  • Find answers to the big questions that threaten success
  • Use models of prompts and rubrics to get your pilot program started

Personalized Learning gives you solid, flexible tools to enhance your school’s depth and generate successful outcomes.

“With a sharp eye for detail, Clarke reminds us that students can and must make their own sense of the world, but to do so, they need smart and flexible frameworks, the company of attentive adults, and lots of back and forth about the important big ideas.”
—Larry Myatt, Founder and President
The Education Resources Consortium

Foreword by Joseph DiMartino
Why This Book?

Who Might Read This Book?

What's in the Book?

About the Author
Introduction: All Learning Is Personal
Meeting Standards/Avoiding Standardization

Celebrating Diversity

Personalized Learning

Designing Personal Pathways to Graduation

An Enriched Context for Learning

1. Engagement in Learning

Organizing Curriculum Around Personal Competencies

Real Questions/Real Meaning

Building on Strengths

Artificial Challenges

Meaningful Challenges

Designing Pathways by Increasing Challenge

Personalization and Student Achievement

Accepting Ambiguity

Nagging Questions About Personal Engagement

2. Patterns of Growth

Personalized Learning at Mount Abraham

Patterns of Growth in Personalized Learning

Learning Through Relationships

Nagging Questions About Student Growth

3. Shaping the Process of Inquiry

Keeping the Target Steady

Seven Phases of Project Development in a Semester

The Process Is the Learning

Nagging Questions About Structure and Freedom

4. Scaffolding Personal Learning

Focusing on Competency

"The Space": A Website Organizing Learning

Designing Processes and Products

Learning to Learn Independently

Learning Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: An Illustration

Problem Solving With Hands

Using the Tools in Advising

Leaving the Scaffold Behind

Nagging Questions About Structure

5. Integrating School and Community

Why Leave Campus?

Riding With the Wizard

Connecting With a Community Mentor

Fitting in at Fifteen: Austin and Gabe at the Fish Hatchery

Making Room for Mentoring

Moving From Simple to Complex Tasks

The Cost in Time and Energy

Making Global Connections

The Action Is Not the Learning

Nagging Questions About Community Engagement

6. Assessing Readiness for College and Work

What Tests Don't Tell

Documenting Applicable Competency

Measuring What Matters

Face Validity

Focusing Questions for Assessing Evidence of Learning

Tracking the Accumulation of Evidence

Student-Led Conferences

Exhibitions: Taking It Public

Celebrating "Best-Work" Portfolios

Reporting Achievement

Nagging Questions About Assessment

7. Transforming High School Learning

School Transformation Through Mutual Learning

Growth Through Interaction

Removing Barriers: Armando Vilaseca, Vermont Secretary of Education

Shaping a Shared Vision: Evelyn Howard, District Superintendent of the Addison Northeast K-12 School District

Linking Personalization to Existing Models: Nancy Cornell, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Continuous Adaptation Through Engaged Leadership

Organizing Teams and Structures: Leon Wheeler, Mount Abraham Coprincipal

Unifying Personalized Learning: Caroline Camara and Maureen Deppman, Cochairs of Personalized Learning Department

Expanding Roles for Teachers: Caroline Camara, Department Cochair

Advising While Redesigning: Russell Comstock, Academic Advisor

Mutual Renewal

Nagging Questions About High School Transformation

Conclusion: From Knowledge to Power
Sort and Select or Empower to Grow?


"I continue to appreciate John Clarke’s dedication to putting students and common sense before educational politics, fads and test scores. With a sharp eye for detail, John reminds us that students can and must make their own sense of the world, but to do so, they need smart and flexible frameworks, the company of attentive adults, and lots of back and forth about the important big ideas. In a time when data dashboards and growth indexes clutter the landscape and steer us away from personalized learning, Clarke’s voice provides tones of Dewey in a contemporary motif."

Larry Myatt, Founder and President
The Education Resources Consortium
Key features
Personal stories (from the author): I have interviewed more than thirty students, administrators and advisors, converted their interviews into transcriptions and edited the transcriptions into illustrative narratives. These stories then anchor each chapter of the book, with examples of scaffolding "props" for personalized learning developed at Pathways. I have also incorporated illustrations from other Vermont high schools developing Pathways opportunities.

The book will include strategies for moving a school to personalization, examples of the guides, writing prompts, rubrics, and reflections (many in graphic form) that will provide guidance for people working up a pilot program.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Clarke Sample Material

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781452299716

ISBN: 9781452258546

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.