My ideas, thoughts, and experiences

Month: July 2020

EDCI 565 Assignment #3 – Personalized Learning

This assignment is written by Emily Miller and Lindsay Morton.

Part A

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent school closures around the world put huge pressure on the education system to pivot and quickly find an effective alternative to in-class instruction. During the time of remote teaching and learning, educators were trying to gather as many resources as they could and put together a comprehensive program, however, it was done as an emergency response. Student engagement is difficult at any time, let alone transitioning to fully online classes from Kindergarten to Grade 12. As time went on for remote learning, teachers noticed a decrease in student engagement as students interests and enthusiasm waned. Teachers are now worried about possible gaps in understanding as well as loss of academic growth during school closures and (optional) return to school. 

Comparing research on impacts of school closures due to extended absences, summer vacation as well as inclement weather, it shows that “students will likely (a) not have grown as much during the truncated 2019-2020 academic year and (b) will likely lose more of those gains due to extended time out of school. Based on our projections, students will return in fall 2020 with approximately 63-68% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year and with 37-50% of the learning gains in math” (Kuhfeld, Soland, Tarasawa, Johnson, Ruzek, & Liu, 2020).  Access to parent and teachers support for learning during the school closure will produce a wider variation than what typical summer break would imply as well (Kuhfeld et al., 2020).

As a result, teachers need to find innovative ways to engage students in online learning to close the academic learning gap. One way to do so, is to consider personalized learning approaches to teaching and learning. It has become clear through years of research, “well designed personalized learning environments can transform both teacher and student behaviour and encourage students academic growth in ways that might not be possible” before (Basham, Hall, Carter, & Stahl, 2016). This was the impetus for the creation of a page focused on personalized learning on the collective blog site. 

People learn in a variety of different ways, however, there are some constants for all members of the human race. These consistencies are: learning informally and incidentally, through self-directed, intentional study, monitoring progress and adjusting strategies, when our objectives are explicit and get plenty of practice, through discovery, and are motivated to learn when the teacher connects personally with us (Redding, 2013). If teachers can find ways to build this into their in-person and digital classrooms, their students are more likely to have better academic success.

There are five foundational components of personalized learning for students, which build off of the ways in which people learn effectively. The first component is self-regulated learning environments. In order for students to develop independence in their learning journey, they need to develop self-regulation strategies of forethought, performance, and self reflection (Basham et al., 2016). The second is transparent and actionable data. This means that when data is collected from students’ academic achievements, it is being communicated in a clear and concise way within a reasonable timeline so students have an understanding of what they know (Basham et al., 2016). Alongside this, is the third component, personalized learning, which is continual feedback. Continual feedback is timely and allows for students to know how to improve and make a plan for where they need to go next with their learning (Basham et al., 2016). The fourth component is the integration of learner voice. Integrating a learners voice can be anything from having the students come up with their own inquiry questions to co-creating assessment criteria for assignments and activities (Basham et al., 2016). The final component is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This means that when teachers are planning their learning activities, they are considering accessibility for all students (Basham et al., 2016). These foundational components helped formulate the sections of the blog for teachers to consider when planning. In the blog, the sections have been separated into strategies to support a variety of learners. These sections include: ELL, students needing math support, students needing literacy support, students with visual and auditory issues and considerations teachers should make when planning for the fall – communication, flexible content, pacing, Learning Management Systems (LMS), and assessment.

These foundational components were also taken into consideration when designing the personalized learning section of the blog. Each section includes different modes of communication – visual, video, auditory, and text. In addition, the content is flexible, editable, and is open for suggestions based on learners’ experiences and input. While viewing the content, there is no pressure to get things done all at once, so the pace is flexible and personalized. The platform and design is consistent across the blog which is acting as our learning management system. And finally, we have assessed, critiqued, and evaluated the content that we have included in the blog to ensure that it is well researched and applicable for teachers transitioning into the fall teaching term. 

Part B

According to Patrick, Kennedy and Powell (2013), “personalized learning means tailoring learning for each learner’s interests, strengths, and needs. This approach encourages flexibility to support mastery and enables learners to influence how, what, when, and where they learn” (Basham et al., 2016).  It is not a new concept or idea; the personalized learning theories of today are heavily influenced by educational philosophy from the Progressive Era – especially John Dewey – with a focus on experimental, child centered, social learning, and preparing students for a changing world (Redding, 2013).


The idea of personalized learning requires a fundamental shift in the way we think about education as teachers and learners. A personalized learning approach not only “requires a shift not only in the design of schooling (i.e. time, curriculum, and instructional delivery methods), but also in how educators view and use technologies” (Redding, 2013). The increase in access to technology and abundance of platforms and applications, has made personalized learning online more realistic for teachers and students. It is something worth considering and exploring as research has found that “both learners with and without disabilities can be successful in these personalized settings. In fact, there is some indication that learners with disabilities cannot only be successful but thrive in personalized learning environments” (Basham et al., 2016). 



Basham, J.D., Hall, T.E., Carter, R.A., & Stahl, W.M. (2016). An Operationalized Understanding of Personalized Learning. Journal of Special Education Technology, 31(3), 126-136.


Kuhfeld, M., Soland, J., Tarasawa, B., Johnson, A., Ruzek, E., & Liu, J. (2020). Projecting the potential impacts of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement. EdWorking Paper, 20-226. Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University 


Patrick, S., Kennedy, K., & Powell, A. (2013). Mean what you say: Defining and integrating personalized, blended and competency education. International Association for K-12 Online Learning.


Redding, S. (2013). Getting personal: The promise of personalized learning. In M. Murphy, S. Redding, & J. Twyman (Eds.), Handbook on innovations in learning (pp. 113-129).


Additional Resources

Pane, J., Steiner, E., Baird, M., & Hamilton, L. (2015). Continued Progress: Promising evidence on personalized learning


Redding, S. (2013). Through the Student’s Eyes: A perspective on personalized learning and practice guide for teachers. Center for Innovations in Learning 

Evaluation of Created Resources – Personalized Learning

During the time of emergency remote learning, it was difficult to find ways to engage learners effectively online. In the classroom, teachers have been fostering personalized learning to ensure they are providing equal access to all students. However, when it came to it, teachers were left with little awareness and resources to do so online.

As a result, our cohort of masters students in Educational Technology through the University of University have worked collaboratively to create a site with resources to help teachers prepare and plan for the year ahead. Below we have listed two outcomes that can help teachers plan for personalized learning in their digital or blended classrooms as they transition into the Fall 2020 school year. 

Outcome #1: Be able to identify new and diverse personalization needs that have come out of the pivot and blended/online learning

Focusing specifically on supports for:

  • English Language Learners (ELL)
  • Students requiring Literacy support
  • Students requiring Math support
  • Students with special needs
  • Students with visual or hearing impairments

Outcome #2: Be able to plan for flexible personalization and accommodation for subject/activity/student

Specifically considering:

  • Communication 
  • Flexible Content
  • Pacing
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)
  • Assessment

During our curation of resources we noticed a few gaps in what relevant and reputable content was available online and what we believed teachers would benefit from in regards to personalization of learning online. Therefore, we created three of our own resources to meet the learning outcomes below. 

In order to critically evaluate the content we have created, we are going to the Berkeley Library Evaluation Resource Tool. This tool focuses on determining: 

Outcome #1 Resource(s) Evaluation

The podcast and visual were created by Lindsay Morton, who is currently a masters student at the University of British Columbia in Educational Technology. While discussing the pivot to remote learning with colleagues the challenge of providing support to diverse learners and ensuring equity amongst the class was something we agreed was difficult and required more support amongst educators. 

The podcast was created on July 22nd, 2020 with Kim Ashbourne. I met Kim during my summer courses in 2020 where she spoke about the importance of web accessibility. Kim is a web content specialist and project manager who is also enrolled in her masters of education technology.  When we met, she discussed why it is important to consider web accessibility and how we can make small changes to resources to ensure all students can access the content. We decided this was an important part of personalizing the needs of diverse learners to ensure equity. The podcast discusses different tools and ways we can make resources more accessible. We hope the conversation will inspire and provide educators with the beginnings of creating accessible content. 

The visual was created through brainstorming with colleagues and discussing the challenges we faced during the pivot to remote learning. As an educator, my administration team was consistently putting social and emotional health at the forefront of our planning last year. As a school team we felt there was no need to worry about students’ academic growth until we were certain all of their basic needs were being met, including their mental health. As the pivot created many changes in students and families lives, it was crucial we focused on this connection before moving towards the learning side of the isolation period. The importance of supporting families reminded us of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which was used as an initial idea and adapted to support educators. When faced with reluctant students or families that are difficult to connect with, I hope this visual can be a starting place for decision making and communicating with their community. The visual was created on July 22nd, 2020. 


Click on the picture below to listen to a podcast about creating accessible content for all learners. 

Click here for a link to the transcript of this video interview. 


Click on the picture below for a video explanation of the hierarchy of needs visual we created.

This image breaks down the needs of students through the following steps. Each need should be met before moving onto the next. Step 1 Are students safe at home? Are their basic needs being met including, water, food and shelter. Step 2Do students have a sense of love and care at home? Do they have family members who support them? Step 3Do students have access to adequate technology to support learning? Step 4 Are students supported by themselves, schools or their family to use this technology to access the learning and engage in instruction? Step 5 Students are accessing online learning.

This visual was created by Lindsay Morton, a masters student at the University of British Columbia, July 2020.

Outcome #2 Resource Evaluation

The author of this resource is Emily Miller, who is currently a masters student through the University of Victoria in the field of educational technology as mentioned in the introduction of the video. In addition, she has completed a Diploma Program in Personalized Learning through the University of Victoria as well as had five years of teaching experience. During her Diploma Program, she met Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt who was keenly interested in inquiry and personalized learning. Since their program together, Rebecca has co-authored a book with Trevor Mackenzie called ‘Inquiry Mindset’, taught an undergrad personalized learning course through the University of Victoria, and continues to share her learning experiences through her social media sites. They both have a contemporary understanding of personalized learning which is guided by research as well as personal experience, which is evident in their discussion.

The resource was created so that teachers could hear from another classroom teacher, who is well versed in personalized learning, talk about their successes and struggles during the remote learning period. It is important for teachers to not only see what is possible, how to do it, but also hear that it is okay to fail. In addition, this resource is more effective as a video than a podcast as it is important to see people’s physical reactions when talking about personal experience. It was filmed in July 2020 which has allowed for both teachers to reflect and pull out the important learning from that time with more clarity. It helps to meet the learning outcome above as it suggests topics and concepts that teachers can and should consider as they move towards the next school year. Rebecca and Emily talk to each of the categories listed under the second outcome in their conversation. Therefore, we believe that this is an effective resource to support teachers understanding of personalized learning.


Click on the image below to watch a video interview with Rebecca Bathurst-Hunt for some inspiration and ideas around personalized learning both in the classroom and online. 

This video was created by Emily Miller, a masters student through the University of Victoria in the Educational Technology cohort, July 2020.

Click here for a link to the transcript of this video interview. 


Curation and Evaluation of Personalized Learning Resources

Diverse personalized needs were more difficult to support during the remote learning period as this was uncharted territory for educators. In the classroom, teachers have been fostering personalized learning to ensure we are providing equal access to all students. During remote learning, this became a challenge without face-to-face interaction, educational assistants, and in-class resources. We hope this page can be a starting place of gathered resources where educators can come to when trying to support the following students during remote learning:

  • English Language Learners (ELL)
  • Literacy support learners
  • Math support learners
  • Students with special needs
  • Students with visual or hearing disabilities

According to the British Columbia Ministry of Education Curriculum Overview (2016), ‘personalized learning acknowledges that not all students learn successfully at the same rate, in the same learning environment, and in the same ways’. As teachers, found ways to try to support all learners in our classrooms. However, the recent time of remote learning made it more difficult to do so. Teachers were often unfamiliar with the online learning landscape, and because of the ‘emergency’ nature of the response, there was not much time to explore ways to do so.

Now that we have had time to process and reflect, we can consider new ways to set up our learning environments (in person and online) in order to support all learners in a more effective way. Personalized learning is a great way to do this. It “focuses on enhancing student engagement in learning and giving students choices – more of a say in what and how they learn – leading to lifelong, self-directed learning” (2016). As you move into Fall 2020, we have included some things to consider as ways to create a more personalized learning environment.

British Columbia Ministry of Education. (2016). Curriculum Overview. Retrieved from

We found a vast range of resources through searching social media, blogs, and recent research on personalization in classrooms.  Most of our resources stem from educational boards, organizations, or foundations which are written by highly educated staff or experts on the subject. Others are written by teachers for teachers through blog posts or resource sharing. We also found many posts through social media and were able to learn more about the authors through their social media pages. As we work towards narrowing down what are the most useful to support our learning outcomes, we found the following resources to support the personalization of diverse populations. To support our findings, we will use the Berkley Library Evaluating Resource Tool to ensure the following.

Personalization Resource(s) Evaluation

While looking for resources, we were also confronted with the issue of accessibility and how these sources will be best used by teachers and students. We hope to continue this journey while creating our post by using the most accessible design and layout to support all accommodations. The remote learning period brought on new challenges to navigate. As the weeks went on, educators became more adaptable and adopted new learning management systems, assessment procedures, and teaching practices. As we move into another unknown in the fall, we hope this page can become a place of specific targets Educators can use to personalize and support specific needs in their diverse classroom.

Additional Resources and Research:

Three Tips for Personalizing in a Pandemic by Paul Emerich France 
Personalized Instruction to Address COVID-19 Learning Gaps by the Institute of Educational Sciences (Part of the US Department of Education)
Personalized Learning and Mathematics Teaching and Learning
A Special Education Teacher Explains Why Virtual Learning is so Hard on Her Students
Imagine Education Research Group through SFU
Basham, J.D., Hall, T.E., Carter, R.A., & Stahl, W.M. (2016). An Operationalized Understanding of Personalized Learning. Journal of Special Education Technology, 31(3), 126-136. 
Redding, S. (2013). Through the Student’s Eyes: A perspective on personalized Learning and Practice Guide for Teachers. Center on Innovations in Learning.
Pane, J.F., Steiner, E.D., Baird, M.D., & Hamilton, L.S. (2015). Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning. RAND Corporation. (CORPORATE) 

Curriculum Conversation

Today in our EDCI 532 course we spent some time in small groups comparing and contrasting K-12 curriculum and looking primarily through two lenses – indigenization  and digitization of curriculum.

Here are the links to each of the Provinces and Territories curriculum:

British Columbia






Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick

Prince Edward Island


Northwest Territories


Here are some of the overarching ideas that came out of the sharing and discussions today:

  • provinces/territories are at varying levels of including and integrating indigenous content and supports for technology to enhance education
  • BC is definitely ahead of the game with their ‘new’ curriculum document(s), digital literacy framework, and First Peoples Principles of Knowledge resource
  • they seem to all follow Tyler’s Model of Curriculum Development
    • Determine the objectives of the province (what content is important)
    • Developing learning experiences that help students achieve the objectives
    • Organize the experiences (modeling? writing? etc.)
    • Evaluation of the objectives (how do the students demonstrate their mastery/achieved the objective)

“Really” by Acinapurag is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

As came up in class conversation yesterday, this seems common knowledge to us. This is because we do not know any better and is ‘how it has always been done’ – at least in this part of the world. Some  wonderings that continue to circle around my head these days are:

  1. How is curriculum developed in the third world?
  2. How are teachings determined/shared/assessed in different cultures?
  3. Is there much research into these things and integrating into how we do things in BC?

If you have any experiences or thoughts on any of these questions I would love to hear them and engage in conversation!


Taking Learning Design To A Whole New Level

“Neighborhood of Chaos” by byzantiumbooks is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The end of the 2019-2020 school year was one of pure CHAOS. Now that I have had some time to step back , I have been able to do some reflecting.

This summer, I continue to move through courses for my Masters Degree. My focus has been on Educational Technology, which has been extremely beneficial during the recent (and ongoing) COVID-19 Pandemic. The uncertainty of school closures, transition to online teaching, followed by another transition to a blended teaching and learning model has been extremely stressful for everyone within the education community.  Everyone was trying to manage during a crisis – we were doing what we could with the information and tools that we had at the time.

But September is going to be a different story. We are still unsure what it is all going to look like, but we do know that we have learned from the past four months and can use that knowledge to create and develop and even more engaging and effective learning experiences for our students.

As a result, based on our combined experiences during the recent Pandemic, our EDCI 565 course is attempting to create a website to help teachers feel better prepared for teaching in this new era of education. We are doing this in the hopes that we can help fellow teachers feel more prepared and informed during this next transition, as well as experience a whole new kind of course learning design! It is still in the planning phases, but so far we have put together a list of outcomes that we think teachers will need. To go with each outcome we are working on gathering resources, creating resources, and trying to put it together in a way that is clear and easy to navigate.

If you have any suggestions for outcomes, things we should look into, resources you have found and loved, or just want to know more – please leave a comment below!


What is curriculum?

My Metaphor

“Glasses” by shyb is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

To me, curriculum is a pair of eyeglasses. Growing up, I always wanted a pair for myself. I was jealous of the different look they give as well as how it changes the way the people see the world around them.

For this metaphor, the frames provide a solid structure similar to the predetermined content of prescribed curriculum. The style of frames can depend on different regions or countries around the world. Then from that large selection, an individual gets to choose which frame works best for them.

The glass are the lenses in which the viewer looks at the world. The wearer can look at things as a whole, see things out of focus on the periphery, or focus on something quite specific depending on the direction they look and what they are interested in. Everyone has a pair with their own specific perspective in which they are seeing the curriculum through. And as learners – both the students and educators – age and move through the education system, the prescription changes and you are able to see a little bit clearer and with more understanding of your individuality and the direction in which you want your learning to go.


My Context

I graduated with a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Victoria in 2014. Unfortunately, that year the teachers were on strike, so I was unable to obtain a teaching position until January of 2015. Since then I have taught primary grades and spent the last four years teaching a combination of grade two and three students at a school in West Vancouver in British Columbia (B.C.).


Therefore, I have been referencing the ‘new’ B.C. curriculum throughout my whole career. The only exposure I had to curriculum before what is currently available, was selecting specific prescribed learning outcomes (PLO’s) while writing lesson plans throughout my practicums in my undergrad program. They were overwhelming in number as a new teacher, but they provided a specific scope and sequence in the learning for each grade which, naturally, I lacked as a brand-new teacher. As a teacher who has primarily engaged in only the current curriculum in B.C., it was daunting to lose the specific learning outcomes per subject. However, as I have progressed in my teaching experience, I have enjoyed the flexibility it provides me in the classroom.


This last year has given me even more perspective on curriculum and instruction. I was fortunate to be given the amazing opportunity to take on the role of Vice Principal at my current school. Now, not only am I responsible for the learners in my own classroom, but the school as a whole. This unique position allows for me see things in a bigger picture way and think critically about how I can engage in conversations on curriculum and instruction for our school as a learning community.


My Response to Week One Articles

As made clear by my metaphor above, I believe that curriculum is the content, not the container (Egan, 2003). In the K-12 teaching world in B.C., the curricular outcomes are already predetermined and what our governing body “values and has given priority” (Blades, 1997). My job as the teacher is to then work with the students to determine how we want to move through content in a way that is engaging and follows their interests and curiosities. The curriculum documents that I reference tell me the ‘what’, but I (and the learning communities I build relationships with year to year – colleagues and students) work together to determine the ‘how’.


In reference to Blade’s (1997) article, I believe in the importance of including students in the process of curriculum and instruction in order to build ownership of the learning and allow for deeper understanding of content. As a new administrator I have needed to remind myself about the importance of including student voices in the decisions we make. In meetings there can often be so many decisions made at a high level, and our school leadership team often has to take a step back and think about what is best for our small community of learners and ask for their thoughts and feedback. We saw this very clearly during the COVID-19 school closure and transition to online and blended learning.



Blades, D. (1997) Procedures of Power in a Curriculum Discourse: Conversations from Home. JCT, 11(4), 125-155.

Egan, K. (2003) What is Curriculum? JCACS, 1(1), 9-16.