Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Personalized Learning Can Be Focused on Talents, Interests & Career Ideas!

Guest post from Mariaemma Willis, M.S., LearningSuccess™ Institute

Home and school educators often wonder how a child's learning can be customized to meet their style needs, talents, and interests, when there are state standards and school district requirements to follow.  Fortunately there are indeed ways to customize learning even when working with standards and requirements. 

Focus on Modality
Suppose the course is U.S. History. At minimum you can provide the information that you are required to cover in different modalities. Non-print learners have a difficult time processing and retaining information from a text book. Many books have recorded versions available or if you are getting the information online, you can use any number of free text to speech programs. Audio books are also an option, as are videos of the books for picture learners. With the technology we have nowadays and so much being available through the internet, these options could be made available to all students.

Assignment options can also be provided to meet various modalities. Besides the traditional written report, students could create presentations using PowerPoint, Prezi, or record skits or videos. They might interview people and create a recording. They might present sketches of what they are learning or photograph an ongoing project and present like a portfolio.

Now what about assessment? We have found that one of the best strategies for both finding out what a student has learned, and for honing their skills, is to have them create their own assessments that they take as well as give to others studying this topic and even the adults who are helping them learn - it works like magic!

Explore Interests
Once you are comfortable providing for Modality needs you can go the next step. Suppose your student is interested in fashion, or medicine, or wars. It is possible to explore U.S. History through the topics: The history of fashion in the U.S., U.S. History through the Wars, etc. But that won’t cover the requirements, you say? Why not? The student can have fun exploring history through that interest and at the same time “check off” those benchmarks the rules say you must cover. The student might create his/her own book or any of the products described above, cleverly demonstrating knowledge of the required benchmarks, along with the topic he/she is exploring.

Unhampered by standards and requirements
If you are in an alternative learning situation unhampered by state requirements, then you can really customize!

In these cases students DO NOT have to follow a regimented program full of yearly requirements and credits. You can create an independent study program that meets your specific students’ needs and interests.

And, yes, the child can still go to college if that is the goal, plus there are lots of other options to explore!

Here is a sample 9th grade program of a student who is interested in the arts:
·         Career Exploration
o   Text: Cool Careers for Dummies by Nemko
o   find an acting mentor, volunteer to assist teaching acting to younger children
·         Arts
o   Dance, voice, piano, and acting/drama lessons
·         Fitness
o   Dance, horseback riding, walk in morning, fitness center
·         Personal Development
o   Learning Success Institute Learning Style Course for Students
·         World History through Dance
o   Choose videos, books of interest, internet research
o   Create scrapbook, digital presentation, or video

For details on what a 4-year plan might look like visit this link

Other examples:
Students can study the history (world or U.S.) of wars, fashion, architecture, medicine, airplanes, or just about any topic of interest. History can be coordinated with literature – for example, the Dear America books are written as autobiographies and are the stories of characters growing up in a certain time period. For those who appreciate cartoons and are picture learners there are cartoon books for history and sciences.

Depending on their interests students focus on fashion, cooking, engineering, drama, the arts, and many other areas. Their programs can include internships, work experience, volunteering, or even starting a business. Skills in areas such as writing or math can be included as needed and in ways that work for their learning styles. Life skills, fitness, and financial literacy can also be included. In other words, school can really be what it was meant to be: preparation for life!

You can watch this video of a student who experienced this type of learning and is now a graduate in this video.

For more information: 
Visit this link for resources about independent study and homeschooling.
Check out this worldwide program,

©2011 by Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis, M.S., Learning Style Specialist for School & Life Success
Mariaemma is co-author Discover Your Child’s Learning Style, and co-founder of LearningSuccess™ Institute. For the last 20 years Mariaemma’s passion has been to bring out the star in every person - adult and child. She is especially concerned about adults who have grown up with negative school labels (Learning Disabled, ADD, lazy, not working to potential, average, below average, even gifted!), and the number of children who continue to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and/or medicated.

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Contact: | 805-648-1739

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