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4 Essential Mindsets for Personalized Learning Environment Design

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Wednesday, December 2, 3:45–4:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Lindsey Blass  
Rebecca Hare  
Zareen Levien  

Technology and flexible learning spaces allow us to design personalized learning experiences, but physical materials alone won’t shift practice. Experience how leveraging four mindsets (equity and agency, process over product, pull vs. push and addition by subtraction) creates the conditions/culture that empower students as unique and self-driven learners.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Innovative learning environments
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Explore and apply instructional design principles to create innovative digital learning environments that engage and support learning.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Participants will identify mindsets that create the conditions and culture for personalized learning.

Participants will explore reference tools for both teachers as designers and administrators and coaches to support implementation and easily replicate the practices associated with the mindsets at the classroom/school site level.

Participants will engage in hands-on exploration of the 4 Essential Mindsets for Learning Environment Design.

Participants will connect to the Equity and Agency mindset through making a personal connection to a student (or subgroup of students) they have struggled to reach.

Participants will apply the Addition by Subtraction mindset through engaging in a virtual learning journey and analyzing classroom spaces and alignment to student-centered design.

Participants will experience the pull vs. push mindset in a blended learning vs. traditional direct instruction simulation.

Participants will explore the Process vs. Product mindset through a visible thinking exercise and iterative feedback protocol.

Participants will create a digital portfolio in Google Slides to document their learning experience and engage in a simulation of setting and monitoring progress towards goals.

Participants will explore reference tools for both teachers as designers and administrators and coaches to support implementation and easily replicate the practices associated with the mindsets at the classroom/school site level.

Participants will set a SMARTE goal to carry out their learning back in their school or district.


:00-:10 - Introductions & Framing: Partnership between the presenter team for SFUSD, implementation by 42 pilot teacher, research and findings through partnership with Stanford University

:10-:15 - Understanding the “why” behind the 4 Essential Mindsets for Personalized Learning Design. Introduce the Google Slides digital portfolio that participants will use to set and monitor their own goals during the session.

:15-:20 -Mindset 1: Addition by Subtraction
What can you remove to create opportunities that amplify learning?
How can you eliminate the distractions that affect learning?
Viewing pictures of learning environments, participants identify elements that amplify and detract from learning.
Reflection activity focused on applying addition by subtraction to your context.

:20-:25 - Mindset 2: Equity and Agency
Driving questions:
How can you design with equity at the forefront, ensuring all students are met as individuals?
How can you empower your learners to be autonomous and self-driven?
Reflection activity focused on identifying a student (or subset of students) that were challenging to reach

:25-:30 - Mindset 3: Pull vs. Push
Driving Questions:
How much information are we pushing at students and how much are we pulling from them?
How can we employ powerful questions instead of providing answers?
Sharing strategies for increasing interactivity during remote learning.

:30-:35- Mindset 4: Process vs. Product
How do we create growth mindsets and celebrate growth over time?
How do we focus on making learning visible and build in feedback loops?
Review feedback strategies including TAG (Tell me what you like, Ask a question, Give advice or a suggestion)

:35-:45 - Closing, Next steps and Q&A
Resources provided
Call to Action: Attendees set a SMARTE Goal (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound, and equity driven) for leveraging the 4 Essential Mindsets for Personalized Learning Environment Design in their current setting

Supporting research

How do 21st Century Skills Connect to SEL

Clever Classrooms: Summary Report of the HEAD Project (holistic Evidence and Design)

Optimal Learning Spaces: Design Implications for Primary Schools

Visual Clutter Research

The Impact of School Environments: A literature review

The Neuroscience of Classrooms

More [+]


Lindsey Blass, Adobe
Rebecca Hare, Clayton Schools
Zareen Levien, San Francisco Unified School District

Zareen Poonen Levien started her career as a Product Manager at Yahoo! focusing on user-centered design. She fell in love with teaching after volunteering at a nearby school.  In 2007, Zareen joined San Francisco Unified School District as a classroom teacher and later became a coach working with teachers and students on using technology for deeper learning. She has led initiatives on Project Based Learning and Complex Instruction and is currently part of SFUSD’s Department of Technology as the Personalized Learning Environments Program Manager to expand innovative practices with technology throughout the district.

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