Key Elements of Positive Learning Support

Similarity to PBIS

Positive Learning Support (PLS) is based on many of the same research-based principles as Positive Behavior and Intervention Support (PBIS), especially a focus on data-driven decision making:

  • Detailed assessment to diagnose and pinpoint targets for improvement
  • Specific plan for improving targeted performance
  • Ongoing monitoring to ensure success
  • Data-driven modification as needed to reach targeted goals
  • Focus on positive outcomes

Unique Learning Path (ULP)

The most basic principle of PLS is that it specifies and delivers a Unique Learning Path (ULP) for each student. An administrator using ilearn programs said it best: “It meets the student where they are.” In other words, the delivery of all instruction, practice, and assessment is uniquely matched to the specific learning needs of each student.

  • Diagnostic assessment precisely pinpoints specific gaps in knowledge.
    • It is distributed throughout the curriculum on a just-in-time basis to optimize the trade-off of diagnostic detail and efficiency of time.
    • It provides detailed data on what students know and don’t know, and how that changes over time with instruction
  • The automated Learning Management System delivers a customized curriculum for each student:
    • It dynamically manages the content to target identified gaps in knowledge on a real-time basis
    • It delivers instruction in the appropriate sequence for maximum success
    • It starts below grade level and moves upward – instruction delivered at the students level at all times
    • It maintains an appropriate level of challenge at all times to avoid frustration and maximize success and satisfaction
  • Extensive reports put the teacher in control with detailed data for managing all activities and student progress

Systematic Learning Supports

A key element of PLS is that it is developed directly from an extensive research base on effective instructional methods (See Resources for details). This research focuses on systematic learning supports that make learning easier and faster.

  • The curriculum is organized in very small, incremental steps that enable continuous success.
  • Clear explanations of concepts and procedures are presented (and required) before students are asked to do math. All instruction is delivered in an engaging multimedia format with graphics, animation and narration that focuses on visual illustrations of concepts (not recorded lectures or text).
  • Scaffolding provides support that makes it easier to learn and faster to learn. Instruction proceeds from highly supported instruction at first, followed by a transition to independent performance (“I do, we do, you do”)
  • Mathematical thinking is assessed using unique, multi-step problems that require that students “show their work” in intermediate steps of problem solving. We refer to this process as “thinking in sight” (which is analogous to “thinking aloud”).
  • No trial-and-error learning is required because that leads to more errors than success.
  • PLS teaches mathematical thinking. It provides explicit instruction on cognitive strategies and all practice is meaningful – requiring mathematical thinking – not rote practice. When students practice thinking mathematically, they build understanding as well as fluency, and they build the foundation for later learning.
  • All instruction is mastery-based, which means that students must demonstrate mastery of each concept and related procedures before moving to the next topic.
  • Cumulative review (Use it or lose it!) is integrated with instruction to facilitate retention over time.

Error prevention is emphasized over error correction

  • The content is based on extensive research on common errors and misunderstandings across topics
  • The content organization and delivery is designed to prevent these common misunderstandings and errors
  • When errors are reduced, student morale and motivation is greatly enhanced
  • Reduced error rate speeds up learning

Math Content is Organized for Effectiveness

The organization of the math content is based on key principles for effective instruction identified in extensive research

  • Controlled at exceptionally detailed level to ensure student success
  • Understanding and procedural fluency are equally important - We don’t force you to choose between understanding and procedural fluency. You get both.
  • Emphasis on coherence in concepts across grades and content areas to ensure maximum transfer of learning from topic to topic and grade to grade. Learning progressions are the basis for content development.
  • Explicit instruction provides clear explanation of all concepts and procedures

Focus on positive outcomes

Attitude is important, along with outcomes. Happy, motivated, independent learners are the goal. This is what has been referred to as a “positive disposition to learning math” (Adding it Up, 2xxx)

With that in mind, everything is focused on success – nurturing success, then celebrating success. The curriculum is designed so that it is easy for every student to experience success – quickly and continuously.

Students advance faster, no matter what level they’re at. They’re motivated by their success and come to exhibit exceptionally high levels of motivation and persistence.

The result is a virtuous cycle of success at successively higher levels.

At iLearn, we believe that “success is its own reward.” Everything we do is based on maximizing the intrinsic satisfaction in learning math.

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