Education Elements July 2016 Newsletter

July 2016 Newsletter

On Our Minds:


And The Winner Is...

Honestly, you are all winners to us, but sometimes it is nice to give an extra big shout-out, accompanied by an extra heavy paperweight / trophy, to a few special districts or individuals so at this year’s Personalized Learning Summit we did just that.  ICYMI - here are the 2016 award winners:

  • The “Whatever it Takes Award” went to the Enlarged City School District of Middletown for their continued commitment to doing everything they can to support student learning.  Over the past few years we have been honored to support Middletown in taking grades K-6 Blended, grades 6-12 Flipped and are excited to now be helping them with their new OER initiative.  If it will help students they are up for it, and we are too!
  • The “Once Isn’t Enough Award” went to Cindy Ambrose.  Formerly the CAO at Horry County Schools where Cindy worked closely with Ed Elements to implement personalized learning across 40,000+ students, she re-located to Loudoun County Schools in VA and is now leading the charge to implement personalized learning for 75,000+ students there.  She likes personalized learning so much she did it twice.
  • The “Engage and Inspire Award” went to the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township where through the use of analogies (bars of soap, swimming pools), twitter chats (#warrenbl), rap songs and general enthusiasm the school district has not just gotten buy-in, but instead created champions for personalized learning across their district.  The leadership inspires their district and in turn we find ourselves constantly inspired by them.

New York State of Mind

Earlier this year a group of leaders in NY state visited Middletown, NY, a district we have been working with since they first started to think about personalized learning while writing their winning 2012 RTTD application.  Based on what they saw in Middletown and heard about in Syracuse, 6 NY school districts formed a consortium and we are kicking off work with all 6 school districts, 2 BOCES, plus an additional 5 other NY districts this summer (that’s 11 more districts in NY!).  We could not be more excited that the work of one of our flagship districts has led the way for many others, large and small, to feel ready to take the leap and transform their districts through personalized learning.  Stay tuned for more news about each district.  New York, welcome to personalized learning: It’s been waiting for you.

Live Free and Personalize

Rochester, New Hampshire just kicked off their own personalized learning initiative starting with their middle school.  June has been a busy month already with school readiness assessments completed just before the end of the year and workshops conducted to align teachers and leaders on their goals for personalized learning.  We are having fun in the Granite State!

Design Spotlight


Personalization at Scale

Andrea Goetchius and Dana Britt, Design and Implementation Consultants

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but we’d like to propose a new ending to that adage.  For us, everything is bigger in Georgia -- Fulton County, Georgia to be exact. That’s because in the past year we’ve worked with nearly 100 schools across 5 waves to roll out personalized learning.  In doing this, we’ve had to grapple with questions such as: How do you personalize learning for 100,000 students at a time?  And what does training look like for that many schools and teachers?

Education Elements partners with districts across the country to strategically execute a plan for personalized learning.  We have expertise in implementation and know the potential successes and pitfalls.  Because of extensive knowledge of what works, we’ve even developed a framework called the Core Four to help districts divide PL into manageable focus areas, and these four areas drive the learning in our workshops.  But when we began working with Fulton, we quickly realized in partnership with the district that they had a need and interest to define personalized learning on their own terms.  Like we said, everything’s bigger in Fulton, so we have not four but seven principles of personalized learning that get at a diverse range of personalization: Choice & Voice, Just-in-time Direct Instruction, Flexible Pacing, Varied Strategies, Mastery-based Assessments, and Choice for Demonstrating Learning. 


Our charge has been to bring these seven principles of personalized learning to life, and in doing so, to help educators rethink how school could meet every student’s needs, interests, and skills.  In one recent workshop we expanded from a traditional 3-station rotation to include eight flexibly paced centers that allowed participants to take an experiential deep dive into the principles.  For example, in the mastery-based assessment station, participants experienced a traditional time-bound learning environment versus a mastery-based one -- all through folding origami shapes.  At the just-in-time direct instruction station, participants first took an assessment to place them into leveled groups based on their misconceptions of the principles.  If participants displayed mastery, they were free to move on to another station entirely.  Upon completion of the centers, we asked participants to define the principles for themselves.  Much like we want students to explore, create, and innovate in their learning  -- we want district staff, administrators, teachers and coaches to do the same.

Want to see how we did it?  Check out the session agenda here!


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NEW White Paper: The Core Four Elements of Personalized Learning

It takes four core elements to succeed with personalized learning.  Learn what they are and how you can put them to use in your district:
 Download the new Core Four Elements of Personalized Learning White Paper

Places to Meet Up

Connect with us at these events: 

  • ERDI, St. Louis, MO, July 6-9.  The Education Elements team will be engaging in conversations with district leaders at the ERDI Summer Conference.  If you plan to be there, send an email!

  • Blackboard World, Las Vegas, NV, July 12-14.  Say hi to Filip from Education Elements.  Please contact him via email: to set up a time to meet.

  • ASICS Conclave, San Francisco, CA, July 28.  Send Cary an email ( if you want to meet up with Cary and James. 

Want to meet up at an event? Email and tell us where you will be!

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