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TeachNet Grant: Learning How We Learn

Joaquin Lorenzo & Keri Rodgers

Joaquin Lorenzo

Keri Rodgers

The Gateway School of Environmental Research and Technology
1980 Lafayette Ave.
Bronx, NY 10473

Grade/Subject: 6 –12: ALL


About the Grant:

Materials :

· Internet
· Computers for each student
· LCD projector
· Poster board
· Markers
· MS PowerPoint


The goal of this project is to help students identify their own preferred learning and social interaction styles at the beginning of a semester. Using the Paragon Learning Style Inventory (PLSI), students can begin to understand how they learn best, appreciate how others learn differently, and develop tools and strategies that will help them proactively problem-solve obstacles to their education.

How it Works:

Students take two interactive questionnaires assessing their own learning and social styles, and then score them. They form groups based on 16 social interaction styles and analyze the results. The students then share and compare the results of all 16 social styles and discuss how they will work together to maximize their classroom experience. Following this activity, they take a learning styles inventory and organize themselves into four groups based on their primary learning style: auditory, visual, tactile, or multi-modality.  

Final Project/Product:

Students create an individualized learning action plan for the subject area and share it with their peers. The action plan made by the students can be geared toward the skills and objectives of the level and the class, and should utilize available resources such as poster, MS PowerPoint, MS Word, and MS Publisher. Each student creates two presentations using the available resources. Students also use Wordle to create a visual representation of their action plan. 

Overall Value:

This project prepares students for success by creating an awareness of different learning needs and empowering them to use this information to create a plan for success in the classroom. Teachers also determine how their students learn so they are able to tailor their instruction to the students’ different needs.

Tips for the Teacher:

The materials are flexible in their use and can be varied to meet your goals in the classroom. Because the materials are simple to use, they are accessible to those with technological limitations. If you are unable to print, your students can make posters. Because the materials are multimedia, it is easy to showcase their work through bulletin boards and video presentations. If your students are low-functioning, they can attempt to restate summary sheets in their own words. The nature of the project means that its intensity and duration can be modified to fit the needs of the students and the teacher. Some groups complete the unit in four days, while others need five or six. If you only have a little time, you can shorten the project to three or four days and focus on learning styles (as detailed below). Or if you also want students to understand how they interact, focus on days one and two.

Try to familiarize yourself with the PLSI site beforehand. The effective teaching section is especially helpful to understand how to work with students. Try to take both inventories prior to teaching this unit. It is important that you, too, understand how you learn and interact with others so that you understand your natural preferences in relating to your students.

Throughout the semester, ask students about learning strategies for their learning and social interaction styles. When teaching a new concept, ask students to tell you how you are teaching to different styles. Once they understand why they are being asked to do something, they are much more likely to do it.
·  Why am I asking you to write out the words we are studying?
·  Why are we reading this passage aloud in class today?

·  Why are we using numbered points to explain this process instead of writing a paragraph in our notes?



1. Students will identify their primary learning style: visual, auditory, or tactile.

2. Students will identify and implement strategies to help them learn the content subject area.

3. Students will evaluate their learning strategies.

4. Students will share learning strategies with their class and make suggestions to each other to improve learning.

Websites Used

Websites Used:


This link provides a quiz in which there is an interactive learning style inventory that takes about ten minutes to complete. This quiz gives students immediate feedback as to whether they are a visual, auditory, or tactile learner and provides a brief description of each and subsequent learning strategies.



This link provides an interactive site that contains the PSLI inventory for students to learn about and understand their preferred learning and social interaction style. It also contains helpful strategies for teachers to work with students in the classroom based on their preferred PSLI type.



This link provides an interactive site that allows students to paste text to create a visual representation of written work.

Standards Addressed:

Standard 1:  

Students read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.

Grade: 6 - 12

Subject: English Language Arts


Standard 2:  

Students read, write, listen, and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.

Grade: 6 - 12 

Subject: English Language Arts


Standard 3:  

Students read, write, listen, and speak for social interaction.

Grade: 6 - 12

Subject: English Language Arts


Standard 4: 

Students demonstrate mastery of the foundation skills and competencies essential for success in the workplace.

Grade: 6 - 12

Subject: Career Development and Occupational Studies


Standard 5: 

Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning.

Grade: 6 - 12             

Subject: Technology


Standard 5:

Information technology can have positive and negative impacts on society, depending upon how it is used.

Grade:  6 - 12             

Subject: Technology

Lesson 1:

Title: Learning Who We Are: Taking the PSLI


Project Objective:

1: Students will take the PSLI and learn their social interaction preference.

2: Students will discuss their social interaction preference in groups.



· Laptop with Internet access

· LCD projector

· Printed preference sheets (1 per preference = 16 sheets)



 1. Have students make the PSLI answer sheet in their notebooks following the model provided below and on the site.                              

 2. Go to PSLI site http://oswego.edu/plsi/ and click on Take PSLI.

 3. Take the learning inventory as a class reading each question aloud for students.

 4: Score the PSLI.

 5: Divide students into their interaction style. For example, all ESFJs will be in the same group. Each group’s task is to read their preferred interaction style and answer three questions:


1. Does this description “fit” you? Why or why not?

2. What are some characteristics about your type?

3. How can you contribute to our class based on your type?

6: Wrap up, and ask students to answer inquiry-based questions such as: Do you think an extrovert prefers being around lots of people or having some alone time? What about an introvert? Why?



Students write a brief summary of their type (i.e., INSJ) and explain how it fits or does not fit them. Each student will also find one famous person with their type and cite the source.



While students are working in their group, ask them guided questions about how they think they can learn within their type. For example, if a group is Judging (J, i.e., ISTJ), ask: How do you approach a project? Do you prefer to plan everything out ahead of time or do things as you go?”

Lesson 2:

Title: Sharing Who We Are


Project Objective:

 1. Groups design a poster or PowerPoint slide highlighting important ideas about their type.

 2. Students share their preferred learning and interaction type with each other.

 3. Students appreciate each other’s strengths and how each student can contribute to the class.



· Laptop with Internet access (or have a memory stick on hand)

· LCD projector

· Printed preference sheets (1 per preference = 16 sheets)

· Poster boards and markers, or computers with MS PowerPoint and a memory stick/Internet connection




1. Quickly recap what happened yesterday.

2. In the groups they formed yesterday, students design a poster or MS PowerPoint slide highlighting what they learned yesterday.


1. What are some characteristics about your type?

2. How can you contribute to our class based on your type?

3. Who is a famous person with your type?

 3. Groups share their PowerPoint slide(s) or poster with the class. During the share-out section, ask students to compare the sixteen types. For example, how does this type differ from the last one we just discussed?

Lesson 3:

Title: How Do You Learn Best?



 1. Students learn their preferred learning style: auditory, tactile, or multimodal.

 2. Students identify learning strategies that suit their learning style for succeeding in your class.



· Computers with Internet access for each student

· Printed learning style sheet for each group

· Markers and poster boards, or MS PowerPoint and laptop hooked up to LCD projector



 1. Ask students how they prefer to study for a test.

Do they prefer to study alone or in groups (extroverted / introverted)?

Do they like to rewrite their notes?

Do they have habits that help them study, such as chewing gum while they review for a test?

Do they like to read their notes out loud?


2. Have the students take an interactive learning style assessment. They should write down their results (i.e., Visual 70%; Auditory 20%; Tactile 10%). http://educationplanner.org/education_planner/discovering_article.asp?sponsor=2859&articleName=Learning_Styles_Quiz

3. Arrange students into groups based on their learning style (visual, auditory, tactile). Any large groups may be broken into smaller groups.

4. Give students a copy of their learning style profile sheet. Ask them to answer the following questions and then create a poster or MS PowerPoint slide(s) that explains how their group learns and to come up with learning strategies based on their learning style for your class.  

   5. While students are working in groups, ask them how they can learn your subject area best in accordance with their learning style. Try using specific scenarios that your students will encounter in this subject area but which with they are already familiar.

·  How can you learn and remember an algebraic formula such as y=mx+b?

·  How can you learn the three states of matter(solid, liquid, gas)?

·  How can you learn and use ten vocabulary words?

·  How can you learn the causes of World War II?

6. Wrap up by asking students how each group learns. Students should be able to say:

·  Visual learners learn best by seeing.

·   Auditory learners learn best by listening.

·  Tactile learners learn best by doing.

Lesson 4

Title: Sharing How We Learn Best



1. Students will work together to create a poster, flier, or slide presentation of their learning style (auditory, visual, tactile).

2. Students will identify learning strategies for their learning style.

3. Students will share learning strategies with each other.



· Computers with Internet access for each student

· Printed learning style sheet for each group

· Markers and poster boards OR MS PowerPoint and laptop hooked up to LCD projector



1. Allow groups time to finish their PowerPoint presentations or posters or Publisher fliers.

2. Groups present their learning styles and strategies to the class using their presentations as a  visual aid.



What is your learning plan for success in our class this year? (The following questions are examples. Adapt the questions or topic to your students learning levels and needs.)


·  What is your preferred interaction style?

·  Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

·  Do you prefer learning facts or thinking about new concepts or ideas?

·  What is your preferred learning style? (visual, auditory, or tactile)

·  What are some strategies you can use to help you learn better in this class based on your learning style?

·  How will you study for tests based on your learning style?


Sample Possible Response

“I am an INTP. I like to work alone, to think things out, and to process ideas. I like quiet when I work and I like to see systems. I think in terms of the overall picture; I don't often think in terms of the small details. But details are important in subjects like math, so I need to find a way to memorize things like formulas.

I'm a tactile learner, which means I learn by doing things. I can learn formulas by rewriting them a few times until I know them. When I study I can walk around the room or chew gum to help me focus. I can help out in my class by helping to keep the room quiet for others who need quiet to learn. I can also help by pointing out the "big picture."

Lesson 5:

Title: My Plan for Success in Subject Class



1. Students will articulate their plan for success and share it with the class.

2. Students will share their PSLI and learning style information with the class using Wordle to create a visual and verbal representation of their interaction and learning style.

3. Students will use MS Word to type and format their responses according to the teacher’s specifications.

4. Students will use two programs simultaneously to import and copy text and images.



· Computers with Internet access and MS Office for each student

· Computers with Internet access that are hooked up to LCD projectors



1. Students type their responses into MS Word and format them according to teacher directions (proper class heading, MLA, etc.).

2. Students copy and paste their response text into Wordle to create a visual representation of their learning style.

3. Students use “screen capture” to import their Wordle image into MS Word or MS PowerPoint. E-mail this image to the laptop hooked up to the LCD projector or save it to a USB key.

4. Students present their Wordle to the class with the LCD projector and give a succinct presentation on how they learn best.

Sample Student Presentation Based on Above Student Response and Wordles

 “I’m a tactile learner so I learn best by doing things like hands-on activities. I also need a quiet space to work and think things through. I can contribute to our class by helping us to see the how things work overall when we are learning new concepts or formulas.”

Joaquin Lorenzo and Keri Rodgers began working together in 2006 with the goal of breaking down the barriers that normally separate and isolate students from each other, while simultaneously preparing them for the rigors and challenges that they will face in the 21st century. Realizing that traditional methods of teaching and counseling were not accomplishing this mission, they decided to find another way to reach their students.


They combined Joaquin’s experience as a social worker and guidance counselor for special education and at-risk students with Keri’s pedagogical background in Spanish and science and her work with college advising. Their mutual curriculum and program development experience has allowed them to find creative ways to serve students in classroom, advisory, and counseling settings. Their goal is to create a classroom culture that enables all students to understand how they learn best so that they will succeed in school and beyond.


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