A Framework for Personalization – “Students at the Center” by Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda

Students At The CenterPersonalization is a trending word in education — but it’s clear that the word means very different things to different folks.

In their terrific new book, “Students At The Center: Personalized Learning with Habits of Mind,” Bena Kallick and Allison Zmuda outline the most important attributes of personalization. As they talk about these attributes (voice, co-creation, social construction and self-discovery), what’s clear is that true personalization requires increased levels of student engagement and teacher feedback.

All too often, educational technology products claim to be personalized – but all they really mean is that a student can go through a pre-ordered sequence of lessons at their own pace.

Bena and Allison talk specifically about portfolios and exhibitions, and they note it isn’t enough for students to collect work or to “engage in superficial reflection.” Rather, portfolios can be powerful tools for personalization when students “play a much more prominent role in assessing their own work,” when they use the portfolio to set goals and “decide on next steps” and can “learn to describe themselves … in richer ways than ‘good’ or ‘bad’ at something.”

If you’re looking to take steps to become more personalized, Bena and Allison provide a terrific framework. It also builds on earlier work on personalization like Joe DiMartino and Denise Wolk’s “The Personalized High School” and Allison’s own ¬†Learning Personalized ¬†– in both book and blog form.

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