Posts Tagged ‘mass customized learning’


MCL National Summit

April 1, 2017

July 16-18, 2017 – Portland


Empowering the Customized Learning Community

July 16 – 18, Holiday Inn, Portland, Maine

Register Here
inevitable-too-207x300Please join us as educators from across the country meet to learn, share, and problem solve how they are transforming their learning communities to provide the “Ideal Learning Experience” for all learners.  Based on the vision described in “Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning: Learning in the Age of Empowerment” written by Chuck Schwahn and Bea McGarvey, educators in our National Alliance are identifying the school structures that need to change in order to customize the learning experience for all learners.

Our National Summit will highlight the work of learners, facilitators and leaders who have been designing and transforming their learning communities. We will engage and leverage the experiences of our summit participants in a variety of learning experiences that will help support all levels of implementation. Summit participants will expand their knowledge, strategies, processes, resources, tools and professional network.

Our 2+ days will include:

  • Sunday Evening Dinner & Opening Session
  • Messages from Chuck Schwahn & Bea McGarvey
  • “Voices of Learners” Empowerment Sessions presented by Young Learners
  • 30+ Empowerment & Vendor Sessions including “Make & Take Sessions”
  • General Session Facilitated Conversations
  • A “Reflection Cafe”
  • Monday Evening Lobster Bake

Registration Fees

inevitable-too-203x300Register here!

Early Bird Special: $350/person or $325/person for teams of 3 or more

After May 20th: $375/person or $350/person for teams of 3 or more

The registration fee includes dinner on Sunday night, continental breakfast, luncheon, and afternoon refreshments on Monday and Tuesday as well as a Lobster Bake on Monday evening. Schools and other education organizations are encouraged to bring teams and make their participation a collaborative experience.


A limited number of rooms are being held at the Holiday Inn by the Bay (, until June 16, 2017

Call 1-800-345-5050 or 1-207-775-2311 and mention the MCL Summit to get the summit rate. Room rates are: $210 for single or double occupancy (standard room with 2 double beds), $159 for single or double occupancy (Standard King Size Bed), $179 for Executive edition room (King or Double/Double).  Maine has a hotel tax of 9%.


All overnight rooms will be subject to a nightly fee of $10 if parking in the hotel garage area. Those traveling in for the summit must park in the multi-level garage beside the hotel and will be charged a discounted $5 daily parking fee.

Lobster Bake

(For the first 300 registered) Our Lobster Bake includes a ferry ride around Casco Bay and to Peak’s Island. Choice of Lobster (1 1/4 lbs), Grilled Sirloin Steak, Grilled Chicken, or Vegetarian (Stuffed Shells), steamed clams, drawn butter, clam broth, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, rolls, coffee, tea, and fresh Maine blueberry cake. The Vegetarian meal includes a fresh garden salad, corn on the cob, coleslaw, boiled potato, and roll. Bar service is not included in your registration but will be offered on the island. Departure from the ferry terminal will be at 5:30 and will return around  9 p.m. (Please arrive at the ferry terminal by 5 p.m.)

If you have a family member or friend who will join you at the Lobster Bake, you must purchase their ticket when you register for the summit.

Registration Contact: Linda Laughlin


Maine Cohort for Customized Learning

January 22, 2012

Student-based Learning

Last week the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning brought together arts teachers from their districts to begin some of the work that will help guide the teaching in arts classrooms in the cohort. At this point the cohort districts are:

  • RSU 57: Massebesic
  • RSU 15: Gray-New Gloucester
  • RSU 18: Messalonskee and China
  • RSU 2: Hall-Dale, Monmouth, Richmond, Drescen
  • RSU 82: Jackman, Forest Hills
  • Milford School Department
  • RSU 3: Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Libery, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity, Waldo
  • Sanford Schools
  • RSU 25: Bucksport
  • RSU 4: Oak Hill

The participants started the work to create Strands, Measurement Topics and Learning Targets. This which will be the basis for the work in determining what students will need to learn to show proficiency before they leave high school. The arts teachers doing this work are:

  • Wendy Burton and Leone Donovan, visual arts, Pam Rhein, music, Messalonskee
  • Michaela DiGianvittorio and Sarah Gould, visual arts, Gray New Gloucester High School
  • Jeff Orth, visual art, Richmond Middle/High School
  • Cynthis McGuire, music Hall-Dale Elementary School
  • Carrie Abbott, visual art, Jackman/Forest Hills
  • Cathy Geren, visual art, Massabesic High School
  • Matt Doiron and Carol Baker-Roux, music, Sanford High School
  • Theo VanDeventer, music/drama, Mt. View Middle School, Eric Phillips, visual art, Mt. View High School

The work will continue in February and I will keep you posted on its progress.

In the words of music teacher from Sanford High School, Carol Baker Roux:

Sanford is new to the cohort, so this was the first meeting for Matt Doiron and I.  I was glad to see people at this meeting who are also working on the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative, as I am hopeful that the cohort’s work will dovetail with the Initiative’s work, as well as the work being done currently on the national standards.  Some concerns raised at this meeting were, “Is this another passing fad?” and “Are we re-inventing the wheel?”  I think these are valid concerns and am hopeful that these will be addressed as we continue to work on developing shared, consistent strands and measurement topics.  The general sense of the people at this meeting was that the Visual and Performing Arts have good Maine Learning Results and we hope to maintain the integrity of that document going forward.

Every time I get together with arts educators in this state I am completely impressed with their intelligence and commitment to their craft.  As a discipline that has always understood meeting and demonstrating standards at a high level, we are the perfect group to model the cohort’s goals of student-centered, performance based learning.

And in the words of art teacher Leone Donovan from Messalonskee High School:

Various members of the 11 cohort schools gathered in Topsham to begin the shift towards a standards-based learning plan. It was a harder two days then I expected with less accomplished than expected. The representatives from the different schools really are at different levels in the process. Some of us needed to learn the language of this version of standards-based curriculum. Others were already working with a version of those concepts this year.

What I like about the conversations that I’ve been involved in, both in my school and at the cohort meeting, is the concept of the learner at the center of the process. I want to believe that there’s a method to create or encourage students to become active, enthusiastic managers of there own education. As a veteran teacher and a lifelong skeptic, I am still yearning for more evidence that this is truly possible. I want to see a school where it is in process with solid evidence that it is working.

We heard that transparency in the curriculum gives the student clear goals and, thus, a clear path to success or as we say in mass customized learning speak, proficiency. Students will know what we, as teachers, want them to learn. We will act as facilitators pointing out ways to master those concepts or techniques. Students can then seek, plan, and follow their own best path to achieving proficiency.

I love that theoretical view of students and learning. But, again, as the veteran and skeptic, I believe that most, if not all of us, are now very clear about our reasons and goals for the lessons we present. I keep wondering, aloud and to myself, how assessing with a 1-4 scale instead of 0-100 scale, how calling it proficiency instead of whatever our current language is, and by rewording existing curriculum yet again will inspire this change.

I hope that we learn more about places where this is in use and has concrete progress recorded. And, despite my skepticism, I’d be thrilled to see more inspired, successful, and enthusiastic students.


Commissioner’s News Release

January 19, 2012

Commissioner unveils education plan

The ground is shifting underneath us. We are hearing about the importance of making changes to the way we “do education” to meet the needs of 21st century learners so all kids are successful. What does that mean for the arts classroom? If you are an arts teacher what components of how you teach meet the needs of your learners in your classroom, whether you teach elementary, middle or at the high school level? Are you taking part in the conversations in your school district? Are you meeting with your arts colleagues to converse about this topic? Please take the time to read the News Release below that will give you a broad overview of the plan from the Commissioner of Education, Steve Bowen.

“Education Evolving” lays out plan to engage students, give them more say in how they learn

AUGUSTA – Students will play a more active role in organizing their own learning and have more choice – such as internships, inter-disciplinary classes, independent study, and vocational education – in how they learn and achieve standards, according to a strategic plan for education unveiled by Maine ‘s education commissioner on Tuesday.

Stephen Bowen unveiled his much-anticipated plan, “Education Evolving: Maine’s Plan for Putting Learners First,” at a press event at the Capital Area Technical Center in Augusta. He shared the spotlight with five students from four schools who spoke about their own educational experiences in classrooms where they had a say in determining their own educational path.

“Governor LePage made it clear to me from the start that he wants an educational system that put kids first, a system where kids are at the center,” Bowen said. “That is the direction that we are proposing to go in.”

The plan lays out five core priority areas, each with four tenets or strategies for improving the educational experiences of Maine students.

The first three core priorities — Effective, Learner-Centered Instruction; Great Teachers and Leaders; and Multiple Pathways for Learner Achievement — outline the need for rigorous standards and instructional practices that customize learning for each student. By putting students in control of more aspects of their education, teachers would be freed up to focus on the individual needs of all students and work with them to build learning plans that engage them and are paced appropriately.

In this proficiency-based system, students can show they’ve met the standards in multiple ways. “If a student is learning and demonstrating understanding of an algebra concept in an automotive class at a Career and Technical Education center, why would we make the student go back to his or her regular high school and sit in an algebra class to learn the same thing?” Bowen said. “Let’s allow students more flexibility to learn in ways that engage them – a combination of classes, CTE, internships, and other experiences.” At younger levels, students might learn through a combination of experimentation, online learning, field trips, textbook exercises, and group projects.

Bowen challenged the notion that all students who enter kindergarten at the same time should go through 13 years of school learning the same material at the same pace as their classmates. “That just doesn’t make sense,” he said.

As part of the transition to a proficiency-based model of education, the plan addresses the need for improved assessment systems. Maine is a lead state in the SMARTER Balanced assessment consortium, which is developing assessments to measure higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills, not simply rote memorization, and to provide timely feedback that can inform classroom instruction.

More effective teacher evaluation systems developed in collaboration with teachers are central to the Great Teachers and Leaders section of the plan. These systems must provide clear standards to teachers, measure them fairly, and provide feedback for continuous growth and improvement. Teachers and administrators at a handful of Maine schools are already working on such systems.

In an era of limited resources, Bowen said he wants the Maine Department of Education to leverage its resources to support teachers and education leaders by facilitating professional development through an online Communities of Practice collaboration platform. The platform, which is already under development, will allow educators and Department staff to share best practices and materials, such as lesson plans and instructional tools.

The last two priority areas are:

Comprehensive School and Community Supports, including health and wellness and community partnerships, and access to internships, apprenticeships and other opportunities to learn in workplace settings, apply academic lessons and explore potential career fields; and
Coordinated and Effective State Support, which calls on the Department to better integrate student learning from early childhood education to post-high school learning, to review the way in which it provides financial and other support to schools, make better use of technology to streamline district reporting requirements, and to develop a new accountability system to replace the one required under the unfair and unrealistic federal No Child Left Behind Act.
In the plan, Bowen makes the case that change is needed to advance student achievement. While Maine exceeds national averages in test scores and graduation rates, test scores have remained essentially flat, and still nearly 20 percent of students who enter ninth grade will not graduate four years later. Moreover, initiatives in recent decades have not made things better. High-stakes testing and federal accountability have moved schools to focus on the tested subjects of English and math to the exclusion of others, and still not made a difference.

“What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked, despite the dedication and hard work of Maine’s educators,” Bowen said. “We haven’t moved the needle. The system is standing in the way of students, teachers, and leaders.”

Not surprisingly, students feel unengaged at school. Studies show they are bored and do not see the relevance of what they are learning to them or their futures. Teachers are discouraged and frustrated in an environment that focuses on the wrong measures of accountability. The structure of the current education system, established in the late 1800s, is no longer capable of meeting the needs of today’s students, Bowen said.

Some aspects of the plan would require legislation, but many would be implemented through collaboration with and support for willing school districts, many of which are already leading in areas such as developing proficiency-based systems and new teacher evaluation systems.

“In many ways we are taking our lead from the districts out there that are already doing this work,” Bowen said. “What we want to do is to help find those schools of excellence, the teachers that are making a huge difference, and share what they are doing with schools across the state. And we want to put an end to flipping from one initiative to another and help create some stability for districts that are looking to the state for steady support for programs that work.”

The commissioner asked five students to join him at the event to speak about their own learning experiences. They were:

Maggie Stokes, a fourth-grade student at Williams Elementary School in Oakland, part of RSU 18. Maggie recently completed a persuasive project encouraging others to recycle in order to protect the planet. She was joined by her teacher, Shelly Moody, the 2011 Maine Teacher of the Year who has been working with her principal and fellow teachers to create proficiency-based classrooms focused on student needs.
Gareth Robinson, an eighth grader at Auburn Middle School. Gareth has been actively using technology since elementary school both at school and personally for hobbies, like playing guitar. He recently completed a social studies project where he and a group of classmates used iMovie to make a newscast of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Mike Muir, the Multiple Pathways Leader for Auburn Schools, was also present. Muir works district-wide to implement large-scale school change efforts, such as the multiple pathways program at the high school and the early learning initiative involving iPads in the kindergarten, to help students engage in their learning.
Brooklyn Pinkham, a senior at Capital Area Technical Center and student at Cony High School in Augusta. Brooklyn hasn’t always fit the traditional definition of a good student. But when she arrived at CATC during her junior year, she started to excel after finding her passion in culinary arts. Now, she’s president of CATC’s Skills USA affiliate and has plans to attend the Culinary Institute of America to continue studying culinary arts. Center Director Scott Phair joined Brooklyn for the event.
Morgan Horn and Kaytie Scully of Sumner Memorial High School in Sullivan (RSU 24). A junior, Morgan is pursuing a career in medicine and is on track to graduate in January of her senior year. Before she graduates, her personal learning plan includes an independent scientific literature class, job shadows, an internship and college classes. Kaytie had a rough start to her high school career but managed to turn things around. Through a program called Pathways, she crafted a personal learning plan that has included adult education classes and online classes. She recently enrolled in a Certified Nursing Assistant program through Adult Education and is receiving both high school credit and a professional certificate. Morgan and Kaytie were joined by Val Peacock, Sumner Pathways teacher/adviser, and Denny O’Brien, Pathways system consultant.
Bowen called his plan a first draft and a working document, saying he plans to do a round of regional visits to educators across the state to seek feedback on the plan. Bowen conducted a “listening tour” almost immediately after being named commissioner in March 2011, visiting schools and meeting with educators, students, parents and others throughout the state to gather information and ideas for the plan.

The public is invited to read the draft strategic plan and join an online discussion about the plan at


Media Arts: Stand Alone or Integrated?

October 27, 2011

Let’s chat

Please humor me… I know you’re busy and some days you barely have time to eat lunch and use the rest room let alone read the meartsed blog. This is what I need from you… your thoughts, your wisdom, your ideas.

Please weigh in on this topic since it is important to the standards future and could impact your future arts education curriculum …. Should “media arts” be a stand alone topic, like dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, or should “media arts” be intervowen into the 4 arts disciplines as we now know them in the Maine Learning Results and National Arts Standards? I think it is a simple and challenging question that needs your best thinking, especially in Maine where MLTI has helped us “lead” the technology conversation in Maine and beyond.

Periodically I get emails and questions like these: My high school has put in a media arts course where students are receiving fine arts credit. Can that be done? Usually the teacher is upset since students who would normally take the arts courses are taking the media arts courses. My question in return is: have you incorporated any media arts into your traditional courses? If the answer is no, I ask why not? And add that perhaps the reason students are taking another arts type of course is because they are looking for something that contains more 21st century tools and opportunities.  Don’t get me wrong here I am not suggesting we eliminate those traditional experieinces however we need to do business differently.

To help you think differently about education, how you teach and how students learn… I suggest you read the following books:

Inevitable, by Bea McGarvey and Chuck Schwann, both makes the case for mass customized learning, but also lays out a vision of what it might look like and how we might do it. Commission Bowen had all of us at the Department read this book. Our books were passed on to the superitendents in the state and each group is reviewing the book and have been asked to pass theirs on to a school board member or another administration. It would be great to hear what you have to say about this easy read.

Another approach to customized learning is student-designed standards-based projects. The Minnesota New Country School is given much credit for developing this model, and their work has been recognized by the US Department of Education, and others. Ron Newell has captured this work and makes clear the student-designed project approach in Passion for Learning. I haven’t read this one yet but it is on my list.

What books have you read lately that you recommend to others? Please make suggestions in the “comment” section below. And what do you think… Media arts a stand alone or interwoven into the other arts disciplines for delivery of education?

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