Learning in Every Learning Style
What if teachers could help each student get a sense of his or her individual learning style, in terms of that student's preferred way to process information and seek energy? Imagine how much better we could support and engage each child!
Education consultant Jane A. G. Kise's article in the summer online issue of Educational Leadership discusses how to differentiate instruction in a math class. In this guest blog post, Kise describes a differentiated lesson on poetry. Her article includes a checklist teachers can use to help gauge each child's learning style.
As I work with teachers, we often teach students about their Jungian learning styles so they can better advocate for their needs. One teaching team decided to go further, creating a poetry lesson to help students understand every style.
The teachers and I created four stations, one for each learning style, collaborating to ensure that each station was engaging yet rigorous and presented a clear learning goal, so that students wouldn't judge stations as "easy/hard" or "fun/boring."
- At the "Let Me Master It" station (learners with the introversion/sensing style), students received clear directions and examples so they could create haiga, illustrated haiku poems.
- At the "Let Me Do Something" station (extraversion/sensing style), learners worked in groups to plan and perform a recitation.
- At the "Let Me Think" station (introversion/intuition style), each student chose from several independent activities involving reading or writing poetry.
- At the "Let Me Brainstorm" station (extraversion/intuition), they collaborated to write a parody of a nursery rhyme.
Then the students journaled about their experiences at each station. I watched one teacher debrief the lesson. She asked all of the students to move to the station they liked the most. Students grouped by every station. The teacher commented, "Look around. If you aren't excited about something we're doing in class, chances are that one of your friends is loving it. My promise is we'll change up what we do so you'll all learn in your own style during part of our time together."
Then she asked them to move to the station where they learned the most. A majority of the students shifted stations. "Aaaah," the teacher said, "so sometimes when you're really having to work at something, you're learning more? Let's all remember that, too."
Students then brainstormed times when their school work requires them to learn in each style. For the "Let Me Master It" style, students identified gathering foundational knowledge and tools for each content area. For "Let Me Do Something," it was science labs, band, using maps, and a robotics class. For "Let Me Think," independent reading and writing; and for the "Let Me Brainstorm" style, the style was tapped through collaborative teamwork and group discussions.
Learning styles aren't meant to set limits on what students can do, but instead to help students realize what comes naturally, what activities are a stretch, and when to seek extra support so they can succeed. The path to success lies in thinking, This activity is hard because it's not in my comfortable style, but I can ask my teacher for strategies, rather than thinking, This is too hard for me.