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  • Writer's pictureDarren Ellwein


The spaces are set.  Studios are ready for learners.  Planning has taken place.  In a previous post I highlighted the learning spaces for our learners.  So what have they been ‘doing’?

Team building

A major emphasis for our personalized learning program involves team building and personality assessment to really know each learner.  With our learners we spent a majority of our first 3-4 weeks focused on who they are and how they learn.  For team building, our learning facilitators (teachers) utilized name games, marshmallow tower and other activities.  Mary Perrine of Eastern Carver ISD in Minnesota emphasizes building relationships, especially in the first 30 seconds of interaction.  We made a concerted effort to avoid ‘RULES’ and build relationships.


The other significant piece was assessing our learners and their personality traits.  This benefited learners, as well.  They were able to understand how they learn best.  When this is completed, facilitators have information that can assist in the learning process during the year.  By the way, our facilitators also did the color personality test!



Learning Spaces: Before students arrived, we decided to name our learning spaces studios with a color associated to them.  Mary would tell you that this allows the learner to feel more comfortable in a space because it is not considered ‘Mr. Ellwein’s room’.  Our three studios, purple, green, and blue also are different in what they provide to the learner.  The spaces could include Critical Thinking Circles, Coaching Workshop, Seminar, Group Flex and Personal Flex.  Norming behaviors in these spaces was completed by our learners (see pictures below).  Together, we brainstormed traits of the space, then condensed language to included 3-4 descriptors.  The descriptors are visible at each space as a collective reminder of the desired, learner behavior.


Growth Mindset

For the past three years our building has focused on growth mindset research.  Our desire is for persistence, grit and learning from failure to be engrained in our learners.  During these weeks of team building, learners engaged in discussions, videos and activities that emphasized a growth mindset.  Perseverance and grit are common language for our facilitators and learners.


Check out more of my posts regarding personalized learning, pushing education forward, genius hour and more!

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