Monday, October 27, 2014

Be The Lead Learner

In our study of metacognitive strategies, we have found that the best way to teach is to embrace the concept of metacognition as part of our own learning process. In the classroom, it is important not only to be the teacher but also to be the lead learner by modeling the use of metacognition and cognitive strategies. When students see their teachers putting these strategies into action, they can more effectively learn how to use the cognitive processes themselves.

For instance, when reading aloud a passage, it's often a good idea to think aloud about the author's perspective to underscore the importance of his or her point of view.  Or when undertaking a class project, the teacher can model planning and organization by developing a checklist of tasks that need to be completed and sharing this with students.

An important way we learn is by making mistakes. The phrase "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" can be adapted quite nicely into a neat little axiom: "Nothing ventured, nothing learned." When teachers make a mistake, they can analyze these mistakes out loud. Students may get a "kick" out of realizing that even adults make mistakes, but they can also see how the adult in charge of their classroom works through a mistake, making it a learning experience rather than a source of embarrassment or frustration.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Power of 20 Minutes

Got a minute? How about seven minutes? Or 15 or 20? It's amazing what your students can learn in that little chunk of time!

One of the strategies we present 60 Strategies for Increasing Student Learning shares The Power of 20 Minutes as a means of maximizing attention, retention, and recall in keeping with the brain's natural attention span.

When planning the learning time you have with students, break your lessons into chunks of 20 minutes or less in order to be more effective. For younger students, learning chunks of seven to 15 minutes are even more effective.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Finishing Power Equips All Students to 'Stick With It'

At the foundation of our Thinking for Results approach (Wilson & Conyers, 2011) is the idea that explicit instruction on using cognitive and metacognitive skills to enhance learning benefits all students.

Consider the example of the high-performing student who quickly masters new lesson content and chooses ambitious independent learning projects but sometimes gets bogged down and unable to fulfill what she has set out to do. She may start writing several different stories and never get around to revising and publishing them. Or she may begin a complex science project, but the end product seems haphazard and incomplete.

Teaching students the cognitive asset of Finishing Power focuses on the planning and organizational skills required to complete a learning project. Finishing Power actually brings together and emphasizes several other thinking skills, such as maintaining Selective Attention on high-priority tasks and Understanding Time in developing a workable project schedule.