Happy PODlers

See what a few Happy PODlers have said about our professional development seminars, PODLS: Portable On-Demain Learning Strategies, and The PODL Profile Tools: A Portable On-Demand Learning Profile for generating personalized reports of learner preferences and personality traits.


Literacy and Technology Professional Development:  Feedback from Principals & Teachers, Grades 3-8, Pamlico County Schools, 2014-2015
  • "I feel like my literacy groups are much more meaningful.  I have a clearer vision of HOW I'm going to get where I have always wanted to be as a teacher of literacy.  I am hoping for lots of growth this year!"
  • "The day we met during professional learning teams was a great chance to discuss how students learn to read and their progression. It helped clear a lot of things up and made it understandable what students need in order to become readers, and what we need to do to become better teachers."
  • "After years and years of talking about our students' issues in Reading, it seems that we are actually doing something that we hope will positively impact our student outcomes."
  • "Since our last workshop 4th grade teachers have shared core phonics survey results on a spreadsheet and we are now grouping students based on need and working out an intervention schedule to best meet those needs."
  • "Mapping the instructional path really helped me in the classroom and with my dibels. I was able to look at what the kids are missing in their learning path and concentrate on getting them the help they need in the areas that there are gaps in their reading instruction."
  • "Since our meeting, I am excited to be working with six more students on upper level phonics instruction and continue working with my seven students on beginning phonics skills. I am still working on putting together a binder of resources for these students, but it is getting started and I am excited about this and can't wait for the end results."
  • "Lots of excellent conversation about literacy being had around the building with staff."
  • "As a grade level we have been using data and forming phonics groups across the grade level to address skill gaps.  We are thinking outside the box more to better meet the needs of our students."
  • "I think the PODLS website has been beneficial to aid with technology and effective learning strategies. Still, I have not looked through everything that the site has to offer because it is so large. However, I know that this is a valuable resource to go to whenever I need extra strategies to use with certain learning deficits."
  • "Your workshop led right into the ELA committee meeting discussions.  Teachers that you didn't meet with were very intrigued with the information and it led to some incredible dialogue about the importance of early decoding skills and evaluating how much time we dedicate to them.  Very Awesome Stuff!"


PODLS.com and The PODL Profile Tools
  • The eSmartz Aliens were used in the creation of learning profiles for the Canadian research project, Differentiated Instruction to Improve Students’ Math Literacy, by Jocelyn Olson and Lori Larsen  (Project #205, September 2012).  The purpose of the Dr. Stirling McDowell Foundation for Research Into Teaching is to fund research, inquiry and dissemination of information focusing on teaching and learning.  [See the free online tool for identifying learning strengths and preferences.]
  • "Donna, Thank you for the great resources.  I am curious (and hopeful), did you ever get your alien website on learning styles revamped?  I absolutely LOVED that site and the suggestion of possible project ideas based on learning preferences/strengths."        [The Aliens are back online now and called "My Strengths" on the PODLS Profile.]   --Chris, Neenah Joint School District, Wisconsin


  • “Dear Ms. Sawyer, when we were working on the project for you I had so much fun it did not even feel like work. It’s people like you who make kids like to learn. It made a lot of people happy.”   --AnnaMaria, Student, Parkwood Middle School


  • "Dr. Vann's favorite website for the month is www.PODLS.com.   Check it out!  This site has Web 2.0 trading cards!  Each card has the name of a tool and an explanation!"     -Edenton-Chowan Schools, NC


  • "I promise this is not an advertisement.  I am simply so impressed and excited about this website, I can hardly keep it in.  Even better, the creator of this project is one of our own North Carolina educators.  The content addresses and compliments the Common Core standards, suggests practical teaching strategies, and identifies unique learning styles. . .  This site is free and available but is not officially being 'marketed.'  Get a head start and see for yourself.  It is so COOL!"    -Children's Librarian, Lillington, NC


  • "I am teaching a graduate course on Differentiated Instruction this summer.  I led a session on "knowing the learner" in yesterday's class.  Two of my teachers' absolute most favorite resources on the web for getting to know their students, 'eSMartz Aliens' and 'Welcome to the Caves of the Codebreakers.' [My Learning Personality]  They are some of the most amazing tools and my teachers have gotten such great info on their students from them.  They are extraordinary resources because they go well beyond just giving students a 'label', but instead, empower them about their preferences." -Leslie G., Howard County, Maryland


  • "Which Alien are you?  I like this approach to metacognition.  The author (Donna Sawyer) uses multiple intelligences in an imaginative way, taking a potentially snooze-inducing subject and making it both attention-getting and motivational by providing activities that can lead to different modes of expression.  I believe her creativity will spark students' interest and give them examples to fall back on when faced with problems in new contexts."      -Barry Sponder, Central Connecticut State University


  • "I have discovered the learner profile puzzle page and your ‘dream building’ activities. I am teaching a class in "Dream Building" at the Jeju International English Village here on Jeju Island in South Korea. I teach Korean and New Zealand students from grades 3 to 7. The whole idea of students learning in different ways is completely foreign to Korea, but I wanted to give the students a chance to see what kinds of learning they feel most comfortable with. Thank you!" -Melissa, Jeju- do, Korea Jeju International English Village


  • “Thank you for sharing "The Mood Pencils" and "Learner Profile" resources in your workshop. It is an innovative approach!  I have started using it to help students identify and own their feelings. They have an opportunity to answer questions about their mood and learn intervention strategies to use throughout their lives.  I use it with In-School Suspension students on their first day of ISS suspension.  Some of them are scared, angry and often downright defiant.  Often they do not wish to own their indiscretion for assignment to ISS.  By using the program, they sort out their feelings and become more calm and reachable.  They learn that they are not the only person with their problem(s). Later in the day, the group has a counseling session wherein students tell why they are in ISS.  We call it telling their "story".  This gives them an opportunity to say aloud what they have done.  Thanks to your work, students have intervention strategies to share with the story teller.  Students then have an opportunity to learn strategies to deal with many problems they will face.  --Ms. Alston, Masters Degree in Guidance, Carnage Middle School, NC


  • "Wow! This is something else! It parallels to our elementary school's MI theme; however, it is much MORE in depth than the forced choice questionnaires we typically give our students. Of course, students can have multiple smarts but they gravitate toward and consequently excel in those areas in which they experience the most success. I need to take the time to really study all of the facets of the "Alien" experience. The alien names really appeal to our students, too. Thank you for sharing this creative resource." -Anne, Counselor, Moore School, North Carolina


  • “We just got back from the computer lab with my class [using "My Learning Personality.] They loved it and kept wanting more.  They were excited to see people who were like them.  A few that finished early asked to see the Aliens because I had discussed the cards in class. Some cards met the student exactly...very definite (dominant) style. What excited them more were the websites they would like.  Each student that made it that far agreed with the sites they went to. Thanks for creating a resource that is so on target for our kids.” - Karen, Fifth Grade Teacher, Wilmington, NC.
  • I used "The Aliens"  (My Strengths) as a journal entry at the beginning of the year. I printed off the two pages of Aliens and let them look through them and write about which aliens they liked and how they were similar to them. I would read the journal entries each week.  Thanks for helping me know my students better!"     -Stacey, Harnett County Schools
  • “Hi Donna- I want to use your activities in a graduate class I am teaching. It covers inclusive strategies and the activities that you have included on learning styles will help me, along with other selected activities that I have chosen, to demonstrate the importance of using a variety of presentation methods when working with diverse learners. I use several of these to help with processing and to give meaning to the content I am teaching. Thanks!!”     - Patty, Assistant Professor, Conway, Arizona
  • “I am an educator (K- 5) in San Antonio, TX. I would like to show other teachers a way to help students figure out their dominant MIs during our back- to-school staff development session next week. I plan to share your Web site with the staff as well. It is a wonderful resource for teachers and students.” - Marina, Gifted and Talented Specialist, San Antonio, Texas


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