certified learning

Practice Makes Progress!

“Would you choose to build a house on top of an unfinished foundation? Of course not. Why, then, do we rush students through education when they haven’t always grasped the basics?”

Mastery based learning is a concept we embrace at Shady Oak Learning. Sal Kahn, who created the now famous Kahn Academy, recently illustrated this in a Ted Talk. Kahn created a carefully structured series of educational videos offering complete curricula in math and, now, other  subjects. I get excited when I see well-known experts validate what we know to be true with our students in our school.

SOI Certified Learning modules help us provide a mastery based approach to helping young children acquire foundational learning skills. Each child progresses at his or her own level.

As Mr. Kahn explains in his talk, teaching for mastery and not for a grade, helps students take ownership of their own learning. When we initially test students with the Structure of Intellect test, we know their strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve their ability to master content.

Mastery learning, a concept researched and introduced by Benjamin Bloom in the 1970s, has been widely researched and proven to be effective to help students reach a high level of achievement, when students are given the necessary time and appropriate learning conditions.

Last year we had a group of students in Pre-K who observed their fellow K-2nd grade students have success mastering the Certified Learning modules. They couldn’t wait to get started on their workbook and computer modules when school started this year!

Our motto is “Practice Makes Progress”, and incremental progress with feedback motivates students to achieve.

written by: Pam Jarvis

Pam is an SOI Practitioner and the founder and Director of Shady Oak Learning, a private K-6 elementary school in Fort Worth, Texas.

To view this blog in Spanish, click here.

certified learning · Classrooms

Seven Key Questions You Should Be Asking in Your Classroom

What makes a successful classroom? Or, more importantly, what makes successful students?

Is it a good teacher? The most organized classroom? The most exciting lessons?

While all of these things are important, we believe that the key to success is this: the student.

  1. Is this student ready to learn?
  2. How does the student learn best?
  3. What areas does the student struggle in?
  4. How quickly is the student progressing through the lessons?
  5. Does the student have any learning gaps?
  6. What can we do to help the student learn best?
  7. Why is this student falling behind?

Do these things sound important to you? We promise you that they’re important to us!

That’s why we developed Continue reading “Seven Key Questions You Should Be Asking in Your Classroom”

certified learning · Classrooms

SOI Certified Learning: Improving Primary Education

Before we get started on what SOI Certified Learning is, here are some of the main reasons that you should be using it in your school or classroom:

  • schools and administrators experience positive results and higher test scores
  • students learn to take control of their behavior
  • affordable and easy to use

Still not convinced? Take a look at these testimonials:

“In my opinion, the Certified Learning program is fantastic at filling in the gaps that kids have. This is my 20th year as an educator, and I have seen nothing that does it better.”

– Jennifer Maldonado, Lubbock Cooper North ES

“‘Excitement’ and ‘empowerment’ are words being used by these  teachers as they and their students reap the benefits of being able to ‘certify’ that the individual educational needs of students in their classes are being met and they are reaching their goal of truly leaving no student behind!”

– Renee Anderson, SOI Senior Program Consultant

Certified learning (for kindergarten, first grade, and second grade) is a managed program that allows students to work at their own pace. It teaches essential, primary learning skills through workbook, computer, and physical exercises.

This program addresses the following difficulties you may have in your classroom:

  • lack of basic learning skills
  • students who are unwilling to work
  • students falling behind
  • students’ inability to focus/concentrate
  • uncontrolled behavior
  • learning difficulties

Continue reading “SOI Certified Learning: Improving Primary Education”

certified learning · Classrooms

Starting Education with a Solid Foundation

There are two alarming “trends” in the classroom that I have observed as a teacher. First, children are frequently focussed on getting their school work done quickly at the expense of doing it well. Conscientious children or those who take pride in using discretion and ‘getting it right’ are in the minority. It doesn’t help that video games usually reward speed over accuracy.

The other trend is students taking social direction from TV shows. Unfortunately, the characters that are emulated are often superficial, stereotyped, and unkind. Competition to be ‘cool’ leads otherwise basically soft-hearted children to become aloof or exclusive. Concurrently, children with borderline social abilities may experience little friendship from one day to the next.

The SOI Certified Learning program was established so that all students would get foundational skills in a systematic way from kindergarten up. Students move at their own pace and master all the basics of their learning module before moving on to the next one. Certified Learning is a program that teachers and students love! Children take responsibility for their own progress and teachers are able to provide one-on-one assistance as needed.

As a by-product of the system, children are taught that accuracy is important and that they are not being compared to one another. They quite naturally assist their fellow students and celebrate each other’s success.

One of the biggest problems for teachers in our traditional classrooms is that the number of children who are able to attend to teachers’ group instructions throughout an entire day is decreasing. The hyperactive students are immediately in trouble as they are unable to ‘sit and listen’ with any regularity. The non-hyperactive students who have difficulty learning by auditory instruction also become disruptive as their tolerance wears thin or they develop the habit of ‘tuning out’. SOI Certified Learning tackles this problem.

How does the Certified Learning system work?

Students are assigned to various stations. A small group will begin at the computer. The first week of computer establishes that accuracy, Continue reading “Starting Education with a Solid Foundation”

certified learning · Classrooms · inspiration · learning skills · SOI News · soi-ipp · Testing · The Basics · training · Unique Issues

Building a Real Student Support Team

YOUR SCHOOL CAN DEVELOP A VERY PROVEN WAY OF ADDRESSING RESPONSE TO INTERVENTION (RTI) THROUGH YOUR STUDENT SUPPORT TEAM AND HAVE STRATEGICALLY TAILORED INTERVENTIONS TO MEET INDIVIDUAL STUDENT NEEDS.

What if you were able to…

  • anticipate, identify, and intervene with ninety percent of your “at-risk” students in kindergarten or first grade
  • help eliminate students’ self-esteem issues related to failure in school
  • bypass reliance on the observations of overextended classroom teachers for most intervention referrals
  • develop an individual and developmentally appropriate plan to effectively intervene with students by the first semester of kindergarten
  • develop an efficient, systematic, easily documentable Student Support Team/RTI procedure for teachers as well as students
  • significantly reduce your Special Education referrals and greatly reduce the number of non-qualifying referrals

What do schools need besides money?

More important than money, they need the information to make good decisions. We have an education system that demands more of young children than they can deliver developmentally.

The system is demanding academic skills that are not accessible to a child until their motor sensory, visual, and cognitive skills are in place.

Our frenetic lifestyles, work schedules, and testing agendas rob our children of appropriate early learning experiences both cognitively and physically. As a result, we are labeling some students with learning disabilities that, given the right interventions, might never cross the threshold into Special Education.

Teachers are frustrated and dismayed because at least twenty-five percent of their students are not able to do what they are asked academically. They come to a Student Support Team meeting with their concerns. “Student can’t read, can’t spell, can’t do math, and can’t pay attention.” What are we to do? How can the student go to the next grade level without the requisite skills in place? How will they ever pass the standardized tests? Continue reading “Building a Real Student Support Team”

certified learning · Classrooms

The Importance of Immediate Feedback

Last week, I chuckled as I monitored one of our students, Deacon, doing the Certified Learning module called “Look and Learn Words.” Deacon is in kindergarten, and I have noticed all throughout the school year that Deacon ducks his head right before the little green square lights up either red or green to let him know if his answer was correct or incorrect.

Deacon really wants to be correct and he can’t stand the thought that he might be wrong! We have worked with him to keep practicing on those modules that are more difficult so that he can gain mastery. It’s fun to see Deacon smile and clap when he has mastered a module so that he can move on to the next challenge!

Certified Learning works because it gives students immediate feedback on their progress. Research in recent years highlights the fact that effective feedback has an impact on student achievement and motivation. University of Texas researcher Professor James Pennbaker explains the role of feedback: Continue reading “The Importance of Immediate Feedback”

certified learning

Painting Destiny

When potential and destiny intersect, it creates an interesting conversation. The former speaks of what might be; the latter of what was meant to be. One looks at raw materials while the other at the finished product.

Raw materials – or palettes, in the world of the SOI practitioners – have many expressions: CFU, CMU, NFU, SI, FS, etc. We are given the high honor and great responsibility of looking at a canvas with varying colors and intensities. Some are brilliant and intense, some soft and delicate, some dim or muted, and some are very thin. Each one is priceless, because each represents a potential and a destiny.

As SOI practitioners, we are given a great gift: the ability to present the palette, encourage the painter, and nurture the skill.

I met a little boy last week in a Certified Learning classroom I visited. His name is Antwone, which he spelled neAntwo. We are still in the process of figuring out why. In both kindergarten and almost half of first grade, Antwone had been in the classrooms of good teachers and well-researched curriculum. He is weak physically, due to a chronic illness, but he is willing and cooperative.

If SOI Certified Learning hadn’t a part of Antwone’s school, he would have been referred to the “Student Support Team” because he was “slow.”

Let’s take a look at what would have most likely happened. Continue reading “Painting Destiny”