Personalized Learning: True Differentiation at Work

By August 9, 2017 No Comments

Updated 3/13/2018

What kind of learner are you? In my experience, most people don’t know the answer to that question. I have spent some time in my career studying the theory of multiple intelligences and brain learning, and when I conduct trainings for teachers on these topics, I find that most teachers are unfamiliar with the concepts. It is rare when a school conducts this level of diagnostic testing for students unless a child shows a significant learning deficit, thus requiring special education services.

But think back to when you were in school. Teachers structured their lessons in various ways but rarely deviated from what you were used to. Most teachers tend to teach their students the exact same way they were taught. Since teachers spend a lot of time talking and demonstrating the concepts to their class, students who are visual and verbal learners will be just fine capturing the content.

But what about the rest of the class?

Typically, these instructional methods will capture 60%-70% of the class leaving a 30%-40% group that will need re-teaching. All of us capture information in our brains in different ways and it is truly difficult for a teacher of 25 or more students to instructionally differentiate their teaching to meet the needs of every student. In addition, without the proper diagnostic tools, such as research-based multiple intelligences tests, teachers will not be informed of the various learning styles in their classroom.

This is where technology can be a game changer in education. Imagine a computer-based software program that can diagnose your learning style and then provide either you or your teacher lessons, modules, or information to helping you learn the information. Or, imagine that your child has a significant learning disability that can be addressed through a computer-based application designed to “rewire” the brain in order to be more efficient at learning and processing.

The Internet is littered with brain games but research has not proven their effectiveness in improving brain processing or memory. However, there are research-based, differentiation tools that schools can use to help students with brain processing, memory, and engagement. Here are my top suggestions for school districts to consider when looking to improve cognitive processing and brain learning for students.

BrainTrain — Founded in 1989 by a neuropsychologist, BrainTrain develops professional software for testing and training cognitive abilities. BrainTrain provides psychological testing for educators, neurofeedback, cognitive training, and tools for helping students process language and reading skills. BrainTrain is used by various organizations including the National Football League, various universities and public school districts, and major corporations.

Scientific Learning – Scientific Learning is the brain child of four research scientists who collaborated on their work to improve the cognitive processes that influence speech and language problems in children. From their work they created a software program called Fast ForWord, which was designed as a reading intervention program. Their programs are designed to provide students with a personalized learning tool that improves the processing efficiency of the brain.

NERVANIX — Nervanix offers groundbreaking advances in the field of neuroscience to improve attention and focus in order to make learning more efficient and effective. Pioneering a new category in education known as “Attention Adaptivity”, NERVANIX works to increase academic achievement by responding to and developing the student’s cognitive abilities. The computer program calculates scores in real-time and provides feedback on the student’s ability to pay attention to the material which provides teachers with data on what information the student captured or what areas require more development.

MIND Research Institute — MIND Research Institute is a neuroscience and education program designed to ensure that students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. MIND created a visual instructional program that builds a deep conceptual understanding of math through rigorous learning and creative problem solving to deeply engage, motivate, and challenge students toward higher achievement. MIND has produced multiple publications on short-term memory training, fluid intelligence, cognitive training and working memory.

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