Personalized Learning

During Week 3 of CEP 811, I watched a TED Talk by Richard Culatta called Reimagining Learning (2013). He focused on personalized learning, so I decided to take a deeper look into it by reading two research articles: Continued Progress Executive Summary (2015) by John F. Pane, Elizabeth D. Steiner, Matthew D. Baird and Laura S. Hamilton and Efficacy of a Blended Learning Approach to Elementary School Reading Instruction for Students who are English Learners (2017) by Elizabeth R. Kazakoff, Paul Macaruso and Pam Hook.

In Continued Progress Executive Summary (2015), Pane et al. implemented personalized learning strategies in 62 schools (examined 32 of those schools) that are predominantly urban and serve low-income families and focused on student achievement in the areas of math and reading. Each student was provided a learner profile that showed strengths and weaknesses from multiple-sourced data, a personalized learning path, continuous assessment for when the student is ready to show competency, flexible learning environments, and programs and curriculum geared toward college and career readiness. After implementing these personalized learning approaches for 1-3 years, they came to the conclusion that “[s]tudents made gains in mathematics and reading that were significantly greater than a comparison group made up of similar students selected from comparable schools” (Pane et al. 2015).

In Efficacy of a Blended Learning Approach to Elementary School Reading Instruction for Students who are English Learners (2017), Kazakoff et al. examined whether a personalized learning approach is effective for English learners (ELs) and non-ELs at the elementary school level. They studied a group of 442 ELs and 442 non-ELs that were matched on grade level over the course of two years. These students learned reading through a blended learning approach called Lexia Reading Core5, which “was chosen based on prior studies of demonstrated efficacy as well as features that address key areas of effective instruction, including clear objectives, frequent assessments of student progress, personalized learning, and ample opportunities for exposure to academic printed materials” (2017). The results showed that ELs made significant improvements in reading and were comparable to gains of non-ELs.

After watching Culatta’s Ted Talk and reading both research articles, I have come to the conclusion that personalized learning is a necessity for successful 21st century learning. Richard Culatta (2013) makes the argument that technology needs to be used to do entirely new things, like technology systems that show where a learner is at, where they are going and how to get back on track when they’re not. These studies do just that; they both used tools to engage learners based on their academic levels rather than having a fixed timeline of learning, which directly correlated to significant gains in students’ academic achievement.

As a 2nd grade educator with 30 students, these findings raise questions about how to approach personalized learning with so little time and district-mandated scripted curriculum. In reading, students are ability-grouped school-wide, but they have no choice of what or how they learn, and if they don’t achieve proficiency on a skill test, we still move on to the next skill.

In regards to maker education, I can think of numerous ways personalized learning can be incorporated. When a student is creating, they are designing, building, inventing and problem solving in new and unique ways. Personalized tools, skills and ideas can be chosen and used to learn and make. For example, two students can be given the task to present their science competency; one student may choose to make a model while another may choose to create a story whether it be on paper, digital, etc. In a personalized learning classroom, there would not be a time limit of how long a student could spend on their learning. Instead, students would be given goals that they are working towards and revisit these goals periodically to assess progress.

Overall, I am excited to learn more about how I can incorporate personalized learning and maker education into my classroom!


Kazakoff, E. R., Macaruso, P., & Hook, P. (2018). Efficacy of a blended learning approach to elementary school reading instruction for students who are English Learners. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(2), 429+. Retrieved from

Pane, J., Steiner, E., Baird, M., & Hamilton, L. (2015). Continued Progress Executive Summary. In Continued Progress: Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning: Executive Summary (pp. 1-8). RAND Corporation. Retrieved from

T. (2013, January 10). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from 

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