In Middle School, Charting Their Course to College and Beyond

Carol’s Summary:

While it is advantageous for middle school students to create individualized academic plans using technology—as iterated in today’s New York Times article featuring a New Jersey school district—another key component to future high school, college and career success is active reading. As students move up, they will be required to read and interpret complex texts to develop their critical and creative thinking skills. Today’s students log in far too much time watching television, surfing the Internet and playing video games. When students interact with a book for college planning by answering journal questions and other exploratory exercises, they are simultaneously developing a composite of skills that they’ll need to compete in our global world.

I agree with the comment by Penelope Lattimer, assistant director of the Rutgers University Institute for Improving Student Achievement, when she said, “The more that you can personalize the academic route that students are exploring, the more they are likely to do their best work.” Our research has found that when students get a better sense of who they are, they have a clearer vision of what’s possible for their future. The emphasis on helping students connect what they learn to college and career goals requires programs life LifeBound’s that help students manage and understand the different developmental stages they encounter in middle school and beyond. For review copies of our materials, call LifeBound toll free at 1.877.737.8510 or email

To better prepare students for college level work, how can we create individualized learning plans that incorporate active reading?

What kinds of incentives do students need to read more and depend on screen entertainment less?

How can we promote active reading across subject areas, including college and career exploration?


In Middle School, Charting Their Course to College and Beyond
The New York Times
Published: February 28, 2010

Public schools have long offered their students the same basic academic program, with little real choice aside from foreign languages or an occasional elective in what was a one-size-fits-all approach that drove many families to seek private and charter schools.

But this year, all 428 sixth graders at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, N.J., are charting their own academic path with personalized student learning plans — electronic portfolios containing information about their learning styles, interests, skills, career goals and extracurricular activities.

These new learning plans will follow each sixth grader through high school, and are intended to help the students assess their own strengths and weaknesses as well as provide their parents and teachers with a more complete profile beyond grades and test scores.

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