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.

New Jersey middle school teacher Therese Reder, who earned her graduate degree in Brain-Based Teaching through Nova Southeastern University, shares a PowerPoint presentation with her students to emphasize the usefulness of learning Finishing Power.

“I present incomplete items and let them realize how impractical incomplete things such as bridges, houses, cabinets, and boats are and relate that to their projects,” Ms. Reder told us.

We offer the following steps to demonstrate the asset of Finishing Power.

  1. Ask students when in their lives it is important for them to consistently complete important tasks.
  2. Tell students a story of two different students: one who finishes important tasks and one who doesn't.
  3. Have students discuss possible scenarios that could happen for these two students.
  4. Ask students what a good plan for finishing important tasks looks like.
  5. Ask students for an example of a person from history who showed great Finishing Power and one who did not.
  6. Create a follow-up lesson plan that allows students to practice and increase their finishing power.

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