St. John's Challenge: keeping average students engaged and learning to their full potential

St Johns has Success with Kurzweil Inclusion Technology      Like many high schools, students at St. John's who need extra help due to disabilities and those who are considered gifted receive a lot of attention, either with accommodations or advanced placement coursework. The average student, though, sometimes gets lost because of lack of academic support.

"These students have the ability, given added effort and the right kind of motivation and support, to reach their full potential; but many shied away from challenging work," recalls Michele Nixon, St. John's Learning Specialist. "And teachers were noticing lack of engagement in learning and low levels of participation in class discussion from this student population."

Michele Nixon (right), creator of the highly successful Academics Plus program at St. Johnís High School, with Marcia Chambers who tutors at Academics Plus

The Inclusive Objective: eliminate any obstacles standing in the way for every student to succeed

As a private, college preparatory school, there is a certain expectation that each student would meet or exceed his or her academic goals; St. John's wanted to ensure that the technology was inclusive enough to support every student.

Having had experience with learning centers in higher education, Michele set out to create an inclusive learning center with the goal of providing resources to any student who wanted better grades, and especially to mainstream students.

A key to the center's success would be technology and Michele chose Kurzweil 3000 , the award-winning reading, writing and learning software from Cambium Learning Technologies.

The Solution: Academic+ and Kurzweil 3000

Nicknamed A+, St. John's learning center is open early in the morning, after school, and during lunch and study halls. Students drop in to participate in a variety of services that include review, practice, tutoring in all subjects, student study groups, and technical resources. Volunteer adults, college tutors, peer tutors, and paid tutors staff the learning center.

Kurzweil 3000 Inclusion Technology at the Core of A+

The hub of the learning center is the computers running Kurzweil 3000 .

Kurzweil 3000 addressed St. John's many requirements, the first being scalability. Kurzweil 3000 can serve large numbers of students and meet growing participation and usage over time.

The concepts of Universal Design for Learning and inclusion were also important factors. Kurzweil 3000 is customizable to adjust to different learning styles and needs. Because it is curriculum-independent, Kurzweil 3000 allows students to read and access virtually any content, from ePub documents to foreign-language content on the web.

A comprehensive set of tools that is fully integrated enables students to seamlessly progress through the different stages of their school work, from reading, research and note-taking to brainstorming, outlining, and writing.

"Kurzweil 3000 creates independent and responsible learners because students don't have to rely on someone else to help with reading, writing, or note taking," says Michele. "And with Kurzweil 3000, the web-based option to Kurzweil 3000, students can extend their learning anywhere they have an Internet connection."

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