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Education Elements


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National Academy for Personalized Learning

Education Elements and Google for Education hosted the National Academy for Personalized Learning in December. This event was held in Temple, Texas in partnership with Temple ISD. This was a one-day event of professional development, designed for district leaders at all stages of their personalized learning implementation.

For district leaders just starting their journey, the academy helped to provide clarity on priorities. For district leaders who have been moving towards personalized learning for several years, the academy helped to provide guidance around what to do next.

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Over the course of the day, leaders at the Temple ISD event built knowledge on personalized learning, learned strategies for effective collaboration, and focused on how to translate innovative thoughts and ideas into concrete changes for students and teachers.


Sign up to stay tuned as we roll out more National Academies across the US in 2019!




Virtual Learning Walks

Jan 2019 NL Virtual Learning Walks ImageIn order to address the geographical challenges facing the region, Education Elements partnered with Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to pilot a virtual learning walk protocol. As schools move deeper into their personalized learning implementation, there are a number of new practices and effective models being tested, as well as worthwhile lessons being learned along the way. Learning walks provide a valuable opportunity to gauge implementation at the school-level and share best practices amongst staff members, and virtual learning walks have represented an innovative and collaborative solution to ensure all schools have access to those experiences.

School PL Teams “meet” with Education Elements Design Principals through video chat and use their camera-equipped device (phone, tablet, laptop) to walk through classrooms and observe instructional models, the classroom environment, student work, etc. This dynamic use of technology has allowed schools to eschew the barrier their remote locations have caused previously, and instead promote the sharing of tactics and ideas throughout the Peninsula with the goal of building a community around this important work!




Safe Enough to Try: The Inaugural NSR Leadership Institute

“I was really worried about flying across the country to come here, we have a small budget for these things and this was a big expense. I am so glad I came, though. I want our whole staff to have this training.”   - School Leader from NYC

Ed Elements hosted the first NSR Leadership Institute over two bright, bracing days on December 6th and 7th. 37 education leaders from across the country came to the Warwick Hotel in Denver to experience a two-day active-learning event in which the key components of developing and leading a responsive organization were named, modeled, and practiced. The institute was held in a large room on the 15th floor of the hotel, where views of the Denver skyline set the stage for thinking in terms of broad horizons.

Anthony at NSR DenverThe Institute kicked off with a check-in, a practice from EE’s tactical meeting protocol that connects the group by allowing them to learn more about each other, and assists the facilitator in gauging the intentions and moods of the people in the meeting. School leaders were then introduced to the key components of a responsive organization and led through an exercise that illustrated the ways in which common organizational behaviors and norms can keep a group from being effective.

Throughout the two days, leaders were asked to set a commitment and state a hypothesis based on the focus of the sessions they attended. On day one, they considered how to activate learning and change behaviors by focusing on being 1% better every day; they read about the importance of discussing and learning from failure, and considered how to create a team environment where it is safe to fail.

On day two, the cohort learned about practical strategies to create the change they are seeking in their schools and districts. Anthony led them through a tactical meeting protocol, and Keara modeled the TRIZ protocol (Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch" (теория решения изобретательских задач) meaning the 'Theory of Inventive Problem Solving'), which enables teams to identify and plan for practices that will impede progress toward their goals. The afternoon sessions were devoted to managing projects, with Anthony discussing the importance of planning for change, and Keara sharing tools for effective project management.

Angela at NSR DenverEnergy was high over the course of the Institute, as Keara led the cohort through games and activities that illustrated and reinforced the concepts of teamwork, leadership, and learning that were outlined during the knowledge-building portions of the workshops. New friendships were formed and connections were made during the collaborative planning times, in which groups followed a protocol for discussion and feedback to help develop individual action plans. At the end of the second day, participants signed up for individual coaching with the EE Institute team, during which they shared a specific issue they wanted to address immediately, and talked through small steps they could take to nudge their teams toward consistent improvement.

The Institute closed out with a large circle share, in which participants were asked for a sound or a gesture that conveyed how they were feeling, and why they chose that sound or gesture. Sounds included fireworks, signifying popping synapses and excitement over new insights, and Keara’s gong, signifying a calm clarity and reminder to refocus; gestures included the movement of windshield wipers, which wipe away distractions and cloudiness and restore the ability to see far down the road.

Sign up here to stay informed about upcoming institutes.



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How Personalized Learning Aligns with Project-Based Learning

A brief that illustrates how to use the Core Four to align PL and PBL in a way that is tangible for teachers and leaders. 

 Access the Brief

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Running a Tactical Meeting? 

Tactical meetings are a convenient forum where all circle members are together to sync up on the work of the week, and they follow a specific structure and rules. Find out more by downloading the guide!

Download the Guide




Bridging the Gap in Rural Putnam County, Tennessee Through Personalized Learning

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By Sam Brooks - Guest Author
Previously, Putnam County teachers had been using more traditional, often low-tech teaching methodologies. But starting eight years ago, we began to make a significant shift toward personalized and virtual learning with the goal of preparing students to be "future-ready," a term we use in Putnam County to encompass both college-and career-ready as a more flexible concept as students often work toward both at once.

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The Top 10 Blog Posts from Education Elements - What We Talked About in 2018

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By Education Elements
Over the past year, we published 71 posts, and we’ll probably manage to sneak in a couple more before the year is done! Here at the Bring Your Own Thoughts blog, it’s always been our goal to create space for a wide range of perspectives and experiences so that as many educators as possible can find content which is useful and relatable to their own challenges and goals. We’re proud to say that every year, the B.Y.O.T. blog includes diverse voices – from teachers to administrators to coaches and consultants – and this year was no different. 

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Jan 27-30 TASA Midwinter Conference, Austin, TX

Feb 4-6 TOSS Legislative & Learning Conference, Nashville, TN
Feb 13 Council of Great City Schools, Albuquerque, NM
Feb 14-16 AASA, Los Angeles, CA
Feb 14-17 RTM, Buckhead, GA

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