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School Notes: Online Course Offers Tips For School Success

Series About Learning Styles Getting a Test in West Lebanon

In the current educational atmosphere, where standardized tests and other assessments are used to determine whether students are succeeding, the development of other critical learning skills has stalled, says Leslie Williamson, director of the Center for School Success in West Lebanon.

“We’re spending a ton, a ton of time teaching kids to (do) assessments more than what they need to achieve in life,” she said.

The result, she said, is that students are leaving high school without the skills needed in college or the workforce. Part of the problem is that students often don’t know how they learn best, or they’ve been so busy trying to get high test scores that they aren’t sure where their interests lie. “They’re not ready to take that knowledge and apply it in the real world,” Williamson said.

To combat this, the Center for School Success, which was founded in 2003 to work with students who, in Williamson’s words, “are really bright, but are struggling in school for some reason,” has developed “Making the Most of How You Learn Best,” an online course for high school juniors and seniors and first-year college students. It’s designed to help them understand their learning styles, the reasons why they learn the way they do, and ways to work around their weaknesses.

“This course is about helping kids figure out what they can do,” Williamson said.

CSS will first offer the semester-long course in January to a pilot group of 90 students, 60 of whom will take it with regular feedback and assessments from an instructor, and the remainder having access to the course’s PowerPoint presentations, readings and digital resources, without the guidance of an instructor. CSS has hired the RMC Research Corporation, an educational research firm from Portsmouth, N.H., to study the outcomes. The students will delve into a new topic each week, such as learning about health factors that affect learning, or about spatial and sequential ordering systems.

The goal is that students will develop a greater knowledge about how they learn, and confidence in their abilities. They should also gain specific tactics for overcoming learning weaknesses. At the end of the course each student will have a detailed learning profile.

At least one university is interested in using the CSS course with its first-year students, Williamson said. Thanks to grant funding, the first offering of “Making the Most of How You Learn Best” will be free, and Williamson is hoping to gather a diverse group of students for the first go-round.

Calling herself “a softie” for students who are struggling or not living up to their potential, Williamson hopes that some of those students take advantage of what the course has to offer. “If we could reach that population, that would be the ultimate,” Williamson said.

To learn more about “Making the Most of How You Learn Best,” or to sign up for the pilot course, call the Center for School Success at 603-298-6700.

Of Note

The Croydon Village School was recognized in a Statehouse ceremony on Oct. 1 as one of six New Hampshire public schools to be outfitted with an automated external defibrillator (AED). The ceremony was held in honor of National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month, observed each October.

Performances

The Hanover High School Footlighters present a modernized version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 7 p.m. tonight through Saturday ($5-$8).

Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan presents Lewis Carroll’sAlice in Wonderland Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and 2 p.m. on Sunday. ($6-$8).

Events

The Open Fields School in Thetford hosts a school fundraiser on Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. at the Thetford Community Center that will include a lunch of homemade soups, stews, casseroles and breads, children’s activities and an auction called by author Dean Whitlock. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children.

Achievements

Abby Dutton and Leah Forbes, seniors at The Sharon Academy, were named Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Competition, having placed in the top 5 percent of all students taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

School Notes appears on Tuesdays. Email news and announcement to schoolnotes@vnews.com by 5 p.m. Thursday for possible inclusion the following Tuesday.