Personalized Learning Passion Coming To Life

One of my favorite things to do is work with educators who are passionate about making school different.

I have two passions that I get to live out everyday in my job as the Innovative Programs Director.  My first passion is this idea of making and creating in schools. This started about four years ago when I saw the work Laura Fleming @LFlemingEDU was doing in her school. Laura and I have become close friends even though we have never met in person. She challenges me and pushes me to think differently about our spaces and how learners are showing their learning. My second passion came after visiting Mary Perrine @MaryEPerrine and her team at Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska Minnesota. After this visit I started digging deep into this idea of Personalized Learning through my master’s work and how could it work at an elementary level. You can read more about our learning pathway here and  

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Book Creator + Google Chrome

Have you heard that Book Creator is now on Google Chrome? This is incredible news because now so many more learners will be able to create their learning through this powerful app. I have been talking about the power of book creator for some time now, but if you did not have an ipad you were out of luck!

All you need to do is visit this link and sign up for the beta testing. They plan to release the full version just in time for the 1st day of class! The app online acts very similar to the app on the ipad.

I can not tell you how much of a game changer this can be for your classroom.


Teachers you can have your learners put together a math book showcasing their understanding for all the learning during a certain unit.

You can use the comic book feature and have learners make comic books.

Check this wonderful link out to get more ideas Resources for Schools

Please reach out to me if you need ideas. I love this product and believe we should be using this to empower our learners to showcase their learning.

Twitter @travislape

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Power of the iPad

I am always asked why the ipad? Why do you like using the ipad in the classroom? My response is easy WHY NOT? You have a device that can take pictures, use several different applications to bring together into one project and it is user friendly. One of the my favorite apps to use as the house that holds everything is BOOK CREATOR. This tool continues to get better every year and now they will be releasing over the summer the ability to use this app with Chrome.

Here are some ways to use Book Creator in your Classroom: 

How to Books

Collaborative books

Non-fiction books

Photo books

App Smashing Geo Board app with Book Creator 

Research Project and use of Book Creator

Kdg Learners teaching each other about Book Creator 

Learn more here 

Book Creator Session:

Google Summit Book: Google Summit

Shapes around our school Shape Book
(This is just a sample of what you can do with younger learners. You could easily turn this learning into a lesson for older learners by having them find pictures and then explain their thinking through using the recording feature.)

Samples to download and review:

How to make your own templates Book Creator Tutorial created by Kyle Knips
(This is made with keynote, but can be used with google slides, and powerpoint. Just follow the same steps on designing slides. You will just want export the slides as pictures so you can air drop them to your iPad) 

The ones designed below were made by Kyle Knips Technology Integrationist at Freedom Elementary. 

EPIC Daily Goals

Finding Patterns

Four Square Vocab

Math Glossary


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Our Family Story

As my wife and I start to share more about our adoption journey I thought it was fitting to share a little of my personal journey. My wife has been very open from the time we got married that she would love to adopt, but I on the other hand had other plans. I wanted to start our family and had no desire to adopt at that time. As the months went on and we were not getting pregnant I became disappointed and frustrated with God. Why wasn’t this happening easier for us? Why was my plan of our family not coming to life? These were all questions I had about our situation. Throughout all the challenges we continued to pray for God to show us the way and show us his will for our family.

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Everything we have learned about Personalized Learning~

It is crazy to think about our journey down this road to personalized learning just started a little over a year ago. We loaded up four facilitators, three administrators and headed off to Maine to observe some schools. Professionally this is one of the best years of my life. I get to empower and support four amazing facilitators that are trying to do away with grade levels.

My biggest celebrations have to be our amazing team and looking back at what our learners have created and how they’ve grown as individuals.  As a team I feel we’ve grown so much and really work to better one another, support one another, and step up when it’s needed. In many instances help was provided without even being asked! I don’t know how I functioned as a one part teacher before now that I have this team! ~Krista Hansen

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Parent Shadow Day

During the week of November 28th, 2016 we hosted times for our parents of the program to come in and observe their learners. It was an incredible week of having parents come in and visit with us about the different opportunities that are happening in our studios. This dialogue that we had with our parents will help us make changes that will enhance the program moving forward.

Here is a parent perspective on what they saw and think about the program:

Some great quotes from our parents after their visit.

My kiddos are absolutely loving the EPIC program!  They are so excited about their learning and about the new things they are doing.  I’m very pleased with what I’m seeing and hearing from them at home.  EPIC Parent

I’m very pleased with the language and passion for learning that my kids are coming home with. Their understanding of their own learning has been amazing and I’m pleasantly surprised at how much initiative they take with what they are working on. I’m so happy that both of them got in. EPIC Parent

My student has had a very positive experience with the EPIC classes this year. I would recommend this to anyone. Great job by the facilitators with the program. I especially appreciated the way kids help each other. I think a child has a comfort level with his peers and does not feel intimidated to ask questions to his friends that they maybe would not ask a teacher. Great job! EPIC Parent

We still have areas we need to improve on to continue moving the program forward, but we are excited to what the future holds.

We are currently setting up school visits for the spring. If your school would like to visit and see this learning in action please visit our website Schedule a Visit Today! and click on school visit tab.

Our local news did a story on our program and on how we are trying to change school. Watch it here  Keloland News Report

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Breaking Down School Walls

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~We all have a unique fingerprint. It is time that we make school unique for each learner~ 









As we enter week 5 of school, we step back and reflect on where we have been and where we are going. This year we have set out to do school differently at Freedom Elementary. Last spring we spent a lot of time preparing and planning for this year. You can read what we envisioned to do this year with our learners from an Edsurge article. (Article Edsurge)

The first ten days of school we spent a lot of time developing SOPs (standard operating procedures), building relationships, and working on Habits of Mind. These ten days were vital to our program’s success because it is the foundation that we work on each day. You can see what videos and lessons we used with these activities.

Habits of Mind Videos 

Habits of Mind Lessons

We will continually visit SOP’s and Habits of Mind all year long. It has started to stick with our learners. You will now hear them talking about the Habits with each other when working on assignments. One of the best ones was a group of learners were out in our personal flex area, and they were getting frustrated with the technology. One learner came over and said are you “thinking flexibly” right now. Boom that is a learner helping another learner through a problem by applying the habits of mind.

The true strength in our classroom lies in the collaboration of our learners, not in the knowledge of one expert! 

csugbtuwiaa0zpwOur program is focused around a lot of voice and choice for our learners. With this comes a need for an LMS that can help our learners stay organized. We are currently using Buzz to help our learners stay organized. With any LMS there are hurdles we must overcome, and we are working through those, but overall this platform is allowing us to make playlists for our learners. These playlists are set up in the following order:

1.) Must Do’s
2.) Resources
3.) Artifacts

Must Do’s
These are the items learners must do for the learning target. To start the year learners must attend a seminar. This is a whole group instruction where the learning facilitator is sharing the concept in the large group. They must also attend one or two coaching workshops depending on the week and what they need. After that our learning facilitators have taken a little Daily 5 spin on the other must do’s for the week.

The resource folder has videos and other items for our learners that will support them when they are working on creating their artifact to prove mastery of this standard they are working on.

Here are a few examples of our learners sharing what they know about Decimals and story structure. Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” This is important to our program is having our learners decide what is the best way to show their learning. Some of our learners choose to take a test. Some of our learners want to make a video or a poster. The choice is up to them they just have to make sure they prove their understanding to the standard of learning.

This is the structure and how we set things up. Now let us tackle how we are going to break down the grade level walls. It all started with the NWEA as a baseline assessment. This assessment allowed us to group learners based on what they need for each instructional focus area. For example, some learners are excellent at Geometry and are ready for more advanced concepts. That same learner is in need of help with number sense. We can support this learner by moving studios and giving them what they need right now. We are using a software scheduling system to communicate with our learners what studio they will need to be in for the next few weeks. In time we hope our learners will be able to start to schedule different choices that fit their need. For example, our technology integrationist is coming down 3-4 times per week to teach and support our learners with the iPad. Our learners can schedule a 30-minute time slot with him to learn about the new creation app they can use to show their learning. By using the software, we can set room limits and know where learners are going. This has been another huge tool to help us stay organized throughout the day.

Personalized learning provides critical preparation for students and keeps them engaged and excited about learning. ~ Jenni T

cr31hrpukaaavohWe are learning every day about what we can do better the next week for our learners. One of our facilitators said it best “This kind of shift has been so overdue, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the team that is putting the KIDS first and not the teachers or testing.” We look to grow and learn more with our learners this year.

I would be totally mistaken if I did not take a little time and talk about our amazing learning facilitators. These educators have taken on the challenge to change the school structure. Whenever you decide to change such a old system it is hard, but these four educators are dedicated to making a difference for our learners. They spent the summer writing curriculum to only throw most of that out in the last two weeks because what we thought would work is not working. Instead of being negative and upset about the time they spent on the old stuff they took on the new stuff. We have revised our practices and always make sure we are viewing this from a learner lens and not a teacher lens. I am so honored to be able to support, coach, and help them through this process. This is not an easy process, but you could not tell that from the attitudes and positivity that these learning facilitators give off. If you can connect with them please do! They are incredible educators and will add value to all PLN’s.

You can follow our Learning Facilitators at @Mr_Muth, @MsGottsleben, @Mrs_wagers, @mrshansen84

We don’t plan to schedule any visits until after the first of the year. This will give us time to get a good foundation set so that we can help as many schools that want to go down this path.

You can follow us at #epiclearners
You can follow me at @travislape

If you are interested in having me speak to your district about personalized learning, please reach out to for schedule details and dates.

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Personalized Elementary Program

IMG_0088What a summer it was for our EPIC team as they prepared to do something different for the learners at Freedom Elementary. It all started last fall 2015 when our district learned that we would be receiving a grant to help support an elementary personalized learning model. In January four learning facilitators, our district curriculum director, building principal and I traveled to Maine to tour several schools. We had a vision of what we wanted this program to look like, but we needed to see it in action at an elementary level. We had all made several visits to Pioneer Ridge Middle School in Chaska, MN to see the work they are doing at the middle school level. Those visits helped us start to create a framework that we could use at the elementary level.

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Where Did Time Go?

1This past school year went in a blink of an eye, but so many wonderful things happened. I will spend a little time sharing about the journey and what is in the works for the summer and next fall.



This past fall we opened up our makerspace for the 2nd year. We added some new tools for our learners to create with. It was an honor this fall to host over 15 different schools to our space either virtually through a Google Hangout or in person. Our students got to share what they love about our space along with things they hope to see come into our area soon.

We hosted a Maker Cadet Camp in the fall for educators to come and spend a day learning and playing with the tools we use in our space. The Cadet Camp was a partnership between our State CTE Department and our middle school. It was a day to remember for all involved.

One of the biggest joys in my life was when my wife Lynn and I welcomed home DJ. We had been on the adoption road for a little over a year. I still remember the night when we got the call asking to meet with the birth parents. DJ has been a real joy to our family and has adjusted well. He brings smiles to Lynn and I every day.

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I Survived TIE 16



Looking back and reflecting on the three days of learning I am not sure what to begin with. Sunday afternoon we had a full house of amazing educators learning about the maker movement and how to make this happen at their school. We covered how to create an authentic, sustainable, and vibrant makerspace in their school. It was four hours of making and tinkering with all kinds of tools. Continue reading

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