My Personalized Learning Environment


Introduction and Use

            Populations served

Usage and Educational Activities

Future Plans




Introduction and Use

The primary purpose of MYPLEARN.ORG (My Personalized Learning Environment) is the one stated on the homepage -- to have students explore their personal interests. In addition, the unstated goal is to improve students' academic (cognitive), emotional (affective) and behavioral (on-task) engagement. The site's developers hope that using this site will kindle youths' enjoyment of learning, decrease the stress levels of both students and teachers, and assist in creating a more "student-centered" learning environment.

The contents of this site are offered as a public service and the descriptions and reviews are all to be considered as public domain. Any postings/submissions will undergo a review process for appropriateness by Seth Springer or his proxies before being posted.

Populations served:

This website is primarily designed for General Ed students who are "at risk" (some misbehaviors). But it may also provide a welcome tool for gifted or GATE students, allowing them to do independent study.  The site can be viewed as an intervention/activity. The intervention can be explained to parents and administrators as a form of differentiated instruction.  As such, this site may also be of use to teachers and students being served in Special Day Classes (Special-Ed).

Whole-class lessons and activities can also utilize the PLEARN website.  The PLE (personalized learning environment) can be utilized as a teacher-curated resource of websites that may improve student engagement for all students in grades K-5. Students in higher grades may benefit as well. Whole class activities can take place by viewing the website via projector. 

Usage and Educational Activities

---For "at-risk" students  

Providing choice for students with behavioral difficulties has been used as one type of modification.  My working hypothesis is that -- If students are doing an activity that is interesting, personally meaningful, or stimulating, that their need for "escape" or "attention-seeking" , or "disruptive" behaviors will decrease.   You might think that using this site as "busy work", but the sites chosen  are hopefully educational and highly engaging. 

My suggestion is to do this intervention in the morning.  Teacher locates the My PLE website HOME page. Put the student at risk on the website, with directions that they are not to go to sites that are not linked (such as Youtube) during this activity. Give them headphones and have them sit in the back of the class (so that they don't distract classmates). If they have tech or other problems, let them know you can't help them right now, that they need to wait until recess (or another time you can troubleshoot the problem with them).   After 45 minutes of MY PLE exploration, ask them to draw a picture or write a few sentences about what they saw, what they liked, etc. (a reflection in lieu of work missed), Alternatively, assign them to post a comment on the website for one of the web links. These postings will undergo review and, if appropriate, be posted for other students (and adults) to view.

My recommendation is to not push the assignment requirement if the student  is  unwilling to cooperate. The goal of the PLEARn intervention is to make this activity an enjoyable experience for both of you. Try this for a few days. If it works--great! If not, at least you (as a teacher) have probably had a few days with less classroom disruptions--interruptions and a little less aggravation. This intervention may also ward off sending the student to another class or to the office for part of the day.   Please send me feedback or suggestions on how to make this intervention work better.

--For Gate or Regular-education students (for enrichment)

Follow the same routine as those listed for at-risk students. You may request  more elaborate reflection assignments such as asking them to write a review of a website they have chosen, or more in-depth descriptions of web-sites they visited.  You can also ask students to choose a research topic beforehand and do some research using Kidrex, online encyclopedia, or other reference type website (most listed under Conventional).

--Whole Class Educational Activities

Teachers can choose a particular topic to explore,  students may be chosen by lottery or other method and they can be given the privilege of choosing a website or topic to explore.

Some suggested special topics (teacher chosen) that teachers can use with classroom projectors connected to a laptop or desktop.

Here are some topics that may be of interest to explore:

-----history timeline ( on Social Page)

-----maps (on Realistic page under Geography heading)  

-----poetry selections

-----online books  (some are read aloud---giving the teacher a little break!)

-----educational videos -- that can be followed by class discussion

-----virtual tours and photos

         Caves (Investigative Page --

         The Louvre,  (Artistic Page under Museums-  Street view in Google maps (move pegman to the map) Several other websites have gorgeous panoramas of famous places-- look for updates on My PLE  under the Geography section of Realistic Page.

The site is still in development-- and will be open to constant revision.  I would like some of the building of the site to be done with students' feedback (I will do the actual editing though). I plan to enlist teachers who are interested in doing this.

I particularly need sites that have text at 1st-5th grade reading level but are about various sports and outdoor activities (Enterprising Page)  or topics on other pages. Please help me find appropriate  (educational and kid-friendly- G rated) sites. If your student is interested, I would suggest using or other kid's search engines (listed on my Conventional page of the site (picture of "Tidy Raccoon") to locate appropriate websites suitable for consideration.

--Individual Writing Assignments

The site contains a component where students can give their ratings for links- number of stars and the average  rating will be posted directly to the main pages. In addition, individual students may enter reviews (à la  Yelp). This student Involvement may increase student engagement since students can take pride in having their writing posted/published for peers and others to view.

Future Plans

I hope to continue adding sites with educational content, expanding this curated resource. I am also in the process of adding sites in Spanish since many students in California are in bilingual programs.

Limitations of the PLEARN.ORG website / Educational intervention

1. This site (My PLE) will work on Chromebooks, laptops, or desktops (PC or MAC).  However, most of the sites that have interactive elements or games will NOT work on tablets /iPads.    Most interactive and game sites use either Shockwave or Adobe Flash. Most tablets don't support either of these.

2. Since you will not be constantly monitoring the student's web browsing behavior, you may be concerned that he (or she) may be seeking or encountering inappropriate content.  The School Districts' web blocker will protect the student from most of the really vulgar or unsavory content, but  it won't block the student (who has some tech savvy) from playing a bunch of uneducational video games or watching music videos on youtube. You can, however, tell them, "I will be periodically checking your web history (the web sites that you visit). Having this PLE time is a privilege (or treat), so don't blow it." If you want to actually follow up on this threat, most web browsers have a history function (try control H) or Google directions for your particular browser -- Web history or browsing history.

Comments / Suggestions

I welcome all comments, suggestions, sharing of experiences about the site, or notes either positive or negative.  This website was built as part of a doctoral project that went sideways, But I think that using personalized learning environments (PLE) can still be highly beneficial to the education and emotional well-being of many of our students as well as raise student engagement in classrooms.  Please email me at


To learn more about Personalized Learning Environments

Personalized learning versus traditional learning

Ten Tips for Personalized Learning via Technology

PLE's if you please: Personal Learning Environments (PLE's) ISTE 2011

Personal Learning Environments NAIS 2012

Learn 231: Personalized Learning

Preparing Students to Learn Without Us

Papers from PLE conference 2013

Return to MYPLEARN.ORG home page.