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Scholarly Saturdays: Navigating the Ins and Outs of Personalized Learning

In today's edition of Scholarly Saturdays, we'll be going through how we learned to pinpoint the distinctions between different types of personalized curricula - and how we implement the knowledge we gained in My Ivy Education's gifted school.

At the age of six, my mother (and My Ivy Education co-founder) pulled my twin and me out of school to begin what would become our epic journey of online learning. In a flash, we went from listing favorite colors and making Thanksgiving-themed crafts to moving up three grade levels in a year.

We started off with the Stanford University Education Program for Gifted Youth. We enrolled in their self-paced, K-7th math bundle, as well as yearly language arts and writing. The early programs came to us in the mail in the form of CD-ROMs, and consisted of brief pre-recorded video lectures followed by sequences of questions related to the information we had just learned, with a tutoring hotline to call if got stuck. Still, after a couple of years, it was time for something more.

After a long search, my mom found a brand-new company offering live online classes several days a week and signed us up for history and literature courses. The courses were taught at a seventh-grade level and tailored to gifted students (my twin and I were nine at the time), based on the teacher's experiences as an in-person educator who wanted to help gifted students outside of her own region.

We immediately fell in love with the live classes. We could press a button to show a 'raised hand,' which would allow the teacher to call on us to answer a question or offer a comment using our computer microphones. Each class had around ten students from all across the United States and, eventually, the world. I learned along with kids from Alaska and Greece, all while sitting next to my twin in our home in New Jersey.

A decade later, there are exponentially more options for personalized learning than there were when I was in elementary school. Today's pain point isn't finding programs - instead, it's selecting the right curriculum for a certain student. A specific student might thrive in live online classes for biology, but when studying geometry, that same student might prefer a mastery-based approach that lets them advance at their own rate.

Our early experiences gave us the foundation to understand what courses are the right fit for each of our own students. A traditional classroom will never be able to fit the needs of every student, no matter what method it follows. Online courseware offers the opportunity to pick and choose the exact classes to allow a specific student to excel, and to love doing so. When that kind of personalization happens in a group environment, with students united by unique courses of study tailored to them, rather than being forced to adhere to just one curriculum, even better!

There are too many outstanding, accredited, online options, often taught by Ph.D. teachers and experts in their fields, to settle for a learning plan that hasn't been completely customized to each student's needs. What's more, with the admissions percentages for selective colleges only going down, it's too high a risk to leave your child's education to a classroom where half the students are falling asleep with lack of challenge and the other half is scratching their heads in confusion. At My Ivy Education, we practice what we preach, in the name of giving every student an education personalized to them.


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