In schools we tend to group students into grade levels based on their age because this provides the children the opportunity to be with others at a similar level of social and emotional development. However, that does not mean that all students within a class are at the same level across academic subjects.
Students can often fluctuate in abilities in subjects within a grade level, and they experience different levels of growth. Thinking of our own experiences, we can all recall a moment in school where we found one subject challenging and another easy based on the material presented by our teachers. Often the harder subject becomes the “least favorite subject” and there are also times when enjoyable subjects become too easy. This is where individualised learning can help. By teaching students at appropriate levels, subjects that are “hard” become accessible. Students can demonstrate success and growth as teachers provide tasks that are achievable and encourage them to build confidence. To facilitate learning through individualised learning, the curriculum and teaching approach must be in line.
At Stamford American School, individualised learning is one of the core concepts to help every child “achieve more than they believe they can”. To start this process, students participate in Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessments in English, Maths and Science to establish a baseline. This shows where students are currently achieving . The assessment also helps teachers plan what students can achieve within a specified time period with proper guidance. Based on these benchmarks, teachers develop learning experiences tailored to students. There are also a number of other assessments that take place at the beginning of the year including language options proficiency and literacy.
Does individualised learning sound impossible to achieve in a class of 24 students? It is not but does take a different approach to the teaching and learning that many of us grew up with, which was likely a more traditional teacher-centered model. One example of this is when learning writing skills at the Pre-Primary level, each child will have their own goals to achieve. For example, each student has a checklist for their work – some need to work on their spacing and details, while some on their handwriting and use of capitals – each student is on their own learning path.
In this model, support (and challenges) are given to all students, which encourages a high level of engagement and growing confidence. Although the planning and execution of this style of teaching is complex, the experienced and trained teachers at Stamford are up for the challenge.
“We are excited to see how the students at Stamford will ‘achieve more than they believe they can’ this year by providing them an education model and learning environment that allows them to do that.” – Karrie Dietz, Head of School
Stamford American School is located on 25 Man Fuk Road, Ho Man Tin – only 22 minutes from the Central Pier by school bus. Stamford is a through-train school that has combined American core standards and will offer an IB diploma program (*subject to approval).
Applications for 2018 – 2019 are open now. For more information, visit www.sais.edu.hk.
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