Learning Styles and Strengths: Focusing on Achievement for Middle High Ability and Gifted Students

January 17, 2013 Published by

Teresa A JohnsonBy Teresa Johnson

INGREDIENT #4Learning Styles, Intelligences, Strengths/Leadership Styles, and Perceptions of Learning/Interests (Blog 4)

Jim Collins—Good to Great

“What are you deeply passionate about?”

“What are you are genetically encoded for—what activities do you feel you are just made to do?”

Previously, I wrote about resources and relationships. Once the foundations are laid for those two critical parts of the recipe, it is time to find out “what makes the students tick.”  What do they like? What are they passionate about? What are their strengths and weaknesses? In my opinion, this information is most helpful for middle and high school students. For my classroom, this information is also important for individual work, however, particularly important for group work and presentations to have the most educational impact. Once students know their profiles in my classroom, choices for project assignments become clearer; navigating through work, and being aware of adjustments that must be made to manage weaknesses becomes less exasperating.

My students enjoy developing their profiles, usually do not forget their strengths and weaknesses, and try very hard to relate strengths and weaknesses to their life’s goal in terms of maximizing strengths and working around or managing weaknesses. Being aware of students’ profiles also helps me to prepare learning experiences and choice boards for projects/assignments that will be meaningful and beneficial educational impact for students.

Many of the tests I use can be retrieved through an Internet search. Other tests/inventories, I create. My yearly tests include: learning styles, Gardner’s multiple intelligences, brain strength (left brain/right brain), strengths, perceptions of learning, and interests. Later in the year when we talk about leadership, I focus on leadership styles. I usually adapt tests found on the Internet to my classroom needs. I take the tests myself to know my profile and to make adjustments to create a more comfortable classroom environment for my students.

RECIPE TO BE CONTINUED…Next: Ingredient #5Hidden Rules

Teresa A. Johnson, Ed.D., is an itinerant teacher of the gifted in the Jackson-Madison County School District in Jackson, Tennessee. Dr. Johnson has been an educator since 1984, with the last 13 years experience being in gifted education, and has been a district trainer for aha! Process for 12 years. Dr. Johnson’s doctoral research interests include a curriculum model for high-ability and gifted middle school learners that combined innovative curriculum ideas and alternative instructional strategies, 21st Century learning strategies, and the work of Dr. Ruby K. Payne and Paul D. Slocumb.

References:

  • Buckingham, M., & Clifton, D. O. (2001). Now, discover your strengths. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Collins, J. (2012). Best new year’s resolution? A ‘stop doing’ list. Retrieved on December 30, 2012, from http://www.jimcollins.com/lib/articles.html
  • Collins, J. (2001). From good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York, NY: Harper Collins, Inc.
  • Gardner, H. (2006). Multiple intelligences: New horizons. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Johnson, T. A. (2010). A curriculum design that meets the needs of 21st century learners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Trevecca Nazarene University, Nashville, TN.
  • Slocumb, P. D., & Payne, R. K. (2010). Removing the mask: How to identify and develop giftedness in students from poverty (Second ed.). Highlands, TX:aha!Process.

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This post was written by Teresa Johnson

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