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Snapshot 2 of 2: Personalize Learning With Student Curation

[Listen and learn : Snapshot]

Tuesday, June 28, 4:00–5:00 pm
CCC 113, Table 2

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Curiosity. Questions. Student ownership of learning. Passion. Do you see evidence of these in your classroom? Would you like to? Join us to discuss the power of student curation to engage and ignite a passion.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, PC, Mac
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: none
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Personalized learning
Grade level: 6-12
ISTE Standards: Students : Critical thinking, problem solving and decision making
Teachers : Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Students : Research and information fluency
Additional detail: Featured session

Digital tote resources
Description: This wiki houses multiple resources and ideas for student curation.
Description: Developing Future Workskills Through Content Curation
Description: Students as Curators: Moving Towards Personalized Learning

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

In the summer of 2012, I set out on a learning journey to understand what the term “curating” meant within the realm of education. I had been given an assignment at work to provide professional development for teachers on curating. I really wasn’t sure what this meant, let alone how to do it myself, and decided I needed to do some research. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I actually started to curate information –about curating! In July, 2012 I published a blog post entitled “Understanding Content Curation” to share what I had learned.. A year and a half later, it is still the most visited post on my blog. (

There is a real thirst for understanding how to organize and make sense of the massive amounts of information we are exposed to every day. Human filters are needed. However, I learned that, while there is a need for teachers to curate digital resources for their students, the real power lies in designing learning for students that allows them to do the curating, based on their own areas of interest within the required learning topic. Turning this over to students allows them to pursue information on topics they are passionate about, and sharing their new-found understanding with an authentic audience will increase student motivation and success tremendously. It is an excellent strategy to make learning personal for each learner. An added benefit is that curating helps with developing information and media literacy skills, self-direction, and multiple workforce readiness skills,and helps students to meet Common Core standards and helps students to synthesize, evaluate, create and share our new understandings.

Essential Question: What are the elements of student learning that allow us to ignite their passion and transition from student to learner?

Purpose: The purpose of this session is to share a success story of how student curation, combined with providing an authentic audience and immediate feedback transformed learning for a group of middle school students.


Attendees will understand the definition of curation, and how it differs from collection information.
Attendees will understand the impact of of student curation on motivation
Attendees will learn some strategies to set up a curation project for their students


10 Minutes: What is curation? Why Students? Chart comparing curation with collection
5 Minutes: Quick overview: The Question Formulation Technique
10 Minutes: Sharing student curation projects - including student work & their feedback
5 Minutes Q & A

Supporting research

“In a 2011 study, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Iowa scanned the brain activity of 16 people sitting in front of a computer screen. The screen was blurred out except for a small, movable square through which subjects could glimpse objects laid out on a grid. Half the time, the subjects controlled the square window, allowing them to determine the pace at which they examined the objects; the rest of the time, they watched a replay of someone else moving the window. The study found that when the subjects controlled their own observations, they exhibited more coordination between the hippocampus and other parts of the brain involved in learning and posted a 23 percent improvement in their ability to remember objects. “The bottom line is, if you’re not the one who’s controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well,” says lead researcher Joel Voss, now a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.” [Davis, Joshua. (2013, Oct. 15) How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses. Wired. Accessed ]
Curating gives the learner control of time, place, path and pace of learning. Coincidentally, this is at the heart of the definition of Blended Learning. (Clayton Christensen Institute:

Additionally, this study conducted by Paul Mihailidis from Emerson College, “Exploring Curation as a Core Competency in Digital and Media Literacy Education,” (2013, February) offers support for the benefits that can be derived from student curation. In the conclusion, Mihailidis states:

If … educators are to prepare students for lives of critical inquiry, at the heart of their mission is to develop media literate habits for an increasingly media centric world. This necessarily means that students learn savvy media consumption and production skills, critical evaluation and analysis of media messages, and participation in local, national and global dialogue (Frechette 2002; Gaines 2010; Hobbs 2010, 2011; Tisdell 2008)… Students, as curators themselves, can struggle with assessing content, perspective, platforms, agendas, and frames as they sift, sort, and organize information from the depths of the Internet. Through student-driven, creation-driven, collective and integrated teaching approaches to curation, the framework aims to build towards savvy media consumption and production, critical evaluation and analysis, and participation in local, national and global dialog. (Available

More and more school districts are putting personal digital devices in the hands of students as we recognize the need to move towards blended learning and personalized learning for student ownership and control of their own learning in a learning environment relevant to students and their future. The latest data available was for the 2005-06 school year: 14.2 million computers were available for classroom use in our nation’s schools –one computer for every four students. Source: Market Data Retrieval as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010, Table 259 We need to equip students with the skills and habits of mind that will allow them to use these digital devices to their fullest potential. Curating information accomplishes this. Students can explore related and relevant topics allowing for more depth of understanding, and during the curating process, practice essential 21st century and workforce readiness skills, including critical thinking and information literacy.



favorites Nancy White, Innovations in Education

Nancy is the 21st Century Learning and Innovation Specialist for Academy District 20 in Colorado Springs. Nancy is passionate about helping educators to design learning that engages each learner and gives them opportunity to learn how to learn, while practicing 21st century skills in authentic ways. Nancy is a co-author of the Colorado Learners Bill of Rights, co-chair of Colorado’s 21st Century Skills Work Group and board member of Colorado ASCD. She blogs at