Independent School Educators network

Last year, as part of a three week session that included study skills, we began teaching sixth graders about their brains, and this year we are following up with them in seventh grade during their Seek sessions. In addition, we have a Research Group, guided by our learning specialist along with one of our 7/8 Dean's who is also a social worker, consisting of those students who could use guidance in navigating school. (This is very much a two-way process, as we learn from the students as much as they learn from the group.)

I am wondering if similar programs are in place at other middle schools and would love to hear about your experiences.

Cheers, Laurie

Tags: brain, learning, metacognition, middle, school

Views: 13

Replies to This Discussion

I think the only accurate learning style inventory one can do takes hours and needs to be given by someone who has been trained to do so. There are too many "gimicky" inventories out there. Students tend to hang on to a label -- "I'm a visual learner" -- and do not try hard to learn ways to process material that is not initially easy for them to pick up.

I keep making different learning styles explicit when I teach, hoping to address Sarah's point of demonstrating how to apply a certain learning style. For instance, I will ask if a student can explain in another way a math concept that another student just demonstrated at the board. I find with the fifth graders I teach that keeping the idea of learning styles in front of them helps them think about their own learning and to respect other ways of learning. I have also brought this up to students when they have disagreements, pointing out that people see the same situation in different ways because people process information differently.

I read a book since my last comment in this string. It's for students and explains Gardner's multiple intelligences: You're Smarter Than You Think (Thomas Armstrong, free spirit publishing, Minnesota, 2003). Armstrong's book does go into how to get better in each kind of intelligence, even if you are not good at that intelligence.
"It is important that learning style inventories reveal both the ways students take in information AND how they apply it. These two areas are rarely the same. Too often educators feel that if they provide multiple ways of presenting new information, all of the students will do well on the end test. This is not going to make the big difference that also providing multiple ways of showing what they have learned will make."

I agree wholeheartedly with Sarah's comment, quoted above. Providing multiple outlets for students to display their learning makes for a richer learning environment for everyone. It's a wonderful way to encourage student originality and expressiveness, gives students a sense of choice and control regarding their learning, and adds variety to the classroom experience.

Happy Summer!
Specifically, which learning styles inventories are being used by independent schools? ASCD published So Each May Learn, which a couple of teachers at our school have used. We've also used online surveys that produce a 'web' graphic, and are investigating the use of the Clifton Strengths Finder for staff AND students. While the surveys are generally 70-80 questions in length, what they reveal to a student about the ways s/he learns empowers adolescents.


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