Dear Commons Community,
Starting this year, all 428 sixth graders at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, N.J., are charting their own academic path with personalized student learning plans — electronic portfolios containing information about their learning styles, interests, skills, career goals and extracurricular activities. Each student is given a flash drive with her/his e-portfolio to maintain. Individualized instruction is not new and in fact has been required by federal statute for special education students since the late 1970s. What is interesting at Linwood Middle School is that the approach is being used for all students. The introduction of electronic portfolios reduces significantly the paperwork and appears to make the entire record keeping both for the school and the student more practical.
The concept of individualized instruction is well-grounded in learning theory and has evolved from the research on learning styles and differentiated instruction. It is completely counter to the one size fits all approach used as the basis for most curricula. It makes a good deal of sense but implementing individualized instruction has been seen as time-consuming and logistically difficult. The addition of the e-portfolio makes it more palatable.
A NY Times article on the above can be found below.