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September 1, 1999
Vol. 57
No. 1

Web Wonders / Personalized Learning

In the Providence Journal, Julia Steiny wrote profiles of two high schoolers brought "back from the brink" at the Met Center, an innovative school that makes learning real for each student. This Web Wonders is dedicated to "intriguing students back to the land of learning."

Personalized Learning and Teaching

With its emphasis on "one student at a time, one family at a time, and one building at a time," the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence, Rhode Island, provides an overview of its progress during its second year of operation (see "Whole School Personalization, One Student at a Time," p. 24). Through a contract with the Big Picture Company, the Met Center Portfolio (http://bigpicture.org/metport9798coverpage.htm)includes information on "Learning Through Real Work," "Assessment," "Creating Physical Learning Environments," and other topics (including articles from local newspapers).
UNICEF-USA (http://www.unicefusa.org/infoactiv/educat.html) is more than just trick-or-treats and greeting cards. This site opens the door to UNICEF publications, a video catalog, curriculum guides, and an online forum for kids and educators. Those who are interested in becoming involved, as Launa Ellison did (see "Personalized Learning in Bangladesh," p. 54), should look at "Educational Resources" and "Schools That Reach: Solutions in Action."
Are you seeking success with inclusion? At Inclusion: School As a Caring Community (http://www.quasar.ualberta.ca/ddc/incl/intro.htm), you'll find help and inspiration—an entire book composed for cyberspace, with purposeful links in each chapter for both elementary and secondary levels. A "Field Notes" section offers more than 100 interviews with teachers who have successfully included children with disabilities in their classrooms. And the "Handbook" provides insights on learning strategies, evaluation, and social skills. This is an Industry Canada initiative, in partnership with SchoolNet.
For more ideas from Carol Ann Tomlinson (p. 12), see "Differentiating Instruction for Advanced Learners in the Mixed-Ability Middle School Classroom" (http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed389141.html), an ERIC Digest with practical approaches to managing a differentiated classroom. See the ASCD Web site (http://www.ascd.org)(under "book excerpts to browse") for full-text selections from Tomlinson's new book, The Differentiated Classroom, as well as from her best-selling How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms.
Parenting for High Potential— a magazine for parents from the National Association for Gifted Children (http://www.nagc.org/home.htm)—has selected full-text articles online. For example, look at "Parenting Young Gifted Children" by Joan Franklin Smutny. This quote, which could be advice for any parent, is also a plea for personalized education: <BQ>Children need to know that regardless of their school experience they will be able to learn and grow in a home environment that is nurturing and stimulating. . . . Few adults really understand how imprisoning the regular curriculum feels to young gifted children.</BQ>

Structuring Schools for Personalization

Many Wisconsin schools participate in the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) reform program (http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/oea/sage/index.html). This program has four goals: <BQ>reducing class sizes to no more than 15:1; increasing collaboration between schools and their communities; implementing a rigorous academic curriculum focusing on academic achievement; and improving professional development and staff evaluation practices.</BQ>
Find out more about the SAGE law and locate resources on class size at this site, sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (see "Individualization and Small Class Size," p. 50). Research has repeatedly found small schools to be superior to large schools on most measures and equal to them on the rest. This holds true for both elementary and secondary students of all ability levels and in all kinds of settings.
In "School Size, School Climate, and Student Performance" (http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/10/c020.html),a Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) report, Kathleen Cotton examines school-size research. The full text, including a lengthy annotated bibliography, is online at this site.
The National Conference of State Legislatures publishes "Class-Size Reduction" (http://www.ncsl.org/programs/educ/CLASS.HTM), a full-text summary of class-size research, based on data from Indiana and Nevada, that mainly addresses issues of costs.
An authoritative report from the U.S. Department of Education, "Reducing Class Size: What Do We Know?" (http://www.ed.gov/pubs/ReducingClass/) summarizes research on class size that includes state initiatives. At a related Department of Education site, read about Class Size Reduction grants (http://www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/ClassSize/index.html).
"There Is No One Small-School Model," points out the Small Schools Workshop site (http://www.uic.edu/depts/educ/ssw/about.html)sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago. But some hallmarks of small schools are improved graduation rates, higher student achievement, reduced violence and disruptive behavior, and increased teacher satisfaction (see "Countering Anonymity Through Small Schools," p. 38).
Is the new appreciation of small schools the result of changing fashion? Or does solid research support the superiority of small schools? "Ongoing Dilemmas of School Size: A Short Story" (http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed401089.html), a short ERIC Digest by Craig Howley, explores these and other questions from the viewpoint of administration and instruction.

Preventing Youth Violence

Maintained by Teachers College, Columbia University, the site for the Project for Social and Emotional Learning (http://www.tc.columbia.edu/~academic/psel/overview.html)shares information on educational problems that interfere with or complicate healthy learning. Organized according to three workgroups—the Education Group, the Workplace Group, and the Research and Development Group—the project researches current theory and practices that further social and emotional learning.
School Resource Officers. Teen Court. Peer Mediation. Conflict Management. Students Against Violence Everywhere (S.A.V.E.). The Center for the Prevention of School Violence (http://www.ncsu.edu/cpsv/) is the place to go for information on these topics and more—all included in the "Safe Schools Pyramid." The site features online research bulletins and feature articles.

Larry Mann has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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