2.3 WORKING WITH ELLI

PREPARING TO START WORK ON YOUR LEARNING

STEP 1

Download the blank profile and using your understanding of the 7 dimensions described in the section Learning’s 7 Dimensions complete your profile as you perceive your learning skills to be

A specimen profile to show you how the ELLI Spidergraphic prints

STEP 2

If you have already done your on-line profile and know what your profile is in reality you can still put it to one side and draw your perceived profile. You can compare your perception with the ELLI reality.

Before you know what your student scores might be, how about asking yourself one or two questions?

  1. What do I currently do to support the development of the 7 dimensions?
  2. Is there anything that I do at present that might inhibit the development of any of them?
  3. Having learned more about myself as a learner, is there anything that I might usefully do even at this early stage to improve one of my behavioural habits?

NOW … think of either a friend or a member of your family and try to imagine what their profiles might look like. You can use the blank profile for this too. You might even go one stage further and think of someone with a strength, or a weakness, in each of the 7 dimensions.

WE ARE ABOUT TO OFFER YOU SOME WELL-TRIED AND TESTED IDEAS … that have been developed by experienced teachers for those new to ELLI and its ability to change the way learners approach their learning.

First though, a quick way of introducing someone new to ELLI to the way you are approaching your development as a learner. You may need this explanation as you begin to cultivate learning relationships.

ELLI: THE INSTRUMENT THAT TRACKS LEARNER DEVELOPMENT

ELLI is dynamic and enables teachers to track

student responses to their efforts to change learning habits and behaviours.

How?

ELLI superimposes the results of a second profile taken after a period of intervention(s)

on the original Spidergraphic profile. This enables you, as a teacher, to track the effect of the developmental interventions you have introduced and to demonstrate progress, both to your student and to yourself.

ELLI’s DIMENSIONS in a language that everyone understands!

These are the 7 particular characteristics or dimensions that influence how we learn and the first is Changing and Learning but what are the other 6 in a nutshell …

  • Creativity is not just about writing, painting or music but how we use our imagination and come up with whacky ideas when we feel that we need to find a different way of doing things;
  • Critical Curiosity is about looking for new knowledge and trying to find new ways of solving problems;
  • Meaning Making is simply about how we put bits of information together, adding new knowledge or experience to what we already know to come up with something else;
  • Learning Relationships … who we learn with or from or even sometimes, learning alone;
  • Strategic Awareness … how much you know about yourself and your learning and whether or not you are interested in finding out more;
  • Resilience … how far you are prepared to persist when the going gets tough and even whether or not you are happy to make mistakes and learn from them.

AND FINALLY ... a summary of some of the associated habits and behaviours that you may be setting out to change ...

  1. Making your learning easier by knowing how you do it ..
  • Sometimes you find it easier to do things than at others;
  • A lot of this has to do with how you approach it, partly whether the subject excites you or not but also partly because you don’t know what particular learning habits you use when difficulties arise or you are faced with subjects in which you think you have little interest;
  • You are used to a teacher or trainer standing up in front of you and telling you about things that are new to you but we are now going to talk about you as a student learning to learn;
  • However, this is not just about how you learn but where and when you learn, whether in a classroom, at home and from your parents, your relatives, your friends and others that you meet;
  • You have been learning since the day you were born … first, in the security of your own home and from your parents and family but, since then, from all manner of people. We all learn from our mistakes as well as our successes;
  • So, by learning how you do it we shall try to make your learning fun AND we have given you a new language in order that you can talk about learning and notice how your understanding of how you learn enables you to become better at it. We have also given you the option of creating your own language just as long as the meanings of each of the dimensions remain exactly the same.

 

  1. The Language of Learning
  • We are all learning something new every single day … what have you learned today that is new to you? How about making a note every time you learn something new so that you get used to the idea that learning is always with you?
  • Every new experience we have, every new bit of knowledge we come across we add to what we already know and, whether we realise it or not at the time, will change, however slightly, the way we think about things or even how we do things.
  • So, the first thing we learn about learning is that it will bring about a change in us. Or, it might! In other words we have to use whatever we have learned to make us better at learning and allow us to change our habits or the way we behave.

 

We found out about whether or not you allow what you learn to help you get better at learning by using ELLI’s dimensions to determine whether or not you believe each new piece of knowledge brings about any change. You were asked to  say whether …

  • It is very like you
  • Quite like you
  • A little like you
  • Not at all like you

 

There are no right or wrong answers so that the important thing is always to be accurate and truthful about yourself … low scores are just as important as high scores.

We are all different in our approach to learning and, added to that, our different roles within our organisations will require different and distinctive but prescriptive profiles. Also, as our roles develop and change, so will the balance of the dimensions that make up our profiles need to develop and change.

There are 72 questions within the questionnaire and there are no right or wrong answers. The most important thing, however, is for the user to be honest and truthful.

When considering reflective conversation you will find the following questions will be helpful in determining that framework:

 

  • How will the reflective conversations, that will inevitably take time, fit into your everyday life?
  • How long should I expect these conversations to be, or indeed allow them to be?
  • Would it be appropriate to involve others?
  • How can personal coaching conversations be most effective?
  • How have I actually reacted to my learning profiles and how can I ensure that my learning journey will be yet another unkept promise?

 

Planning Conversations that Inspire You to Persist …

 

By questioning the profile shapes you begin to gain an understanding of what they might imply about you Your interrogation will help you to shape a series of questions that you could profitably pursue with friends and/or family. Remember not just to look at the strengths and weaknesses demonstrated by scores for individual dimensions but at the pattern as a whole. This is important because you will be able to use personal strengths to support the development of appropriate interventions as you work on the weaknesses. Apart from that by thinking through each profile carefully you can learn a great deal more about your approach to learning than perhaps you already knew.

    Where the dimensional profile shows ‘a lot like me’ or high scores

Ask yourself:

  • Do my profiles reflect me as I know myself?
  • Do I agree with the profiles?
  • Have I produced a realistic view of myself?
  • Is there some over-confidence being exhibited here?
  • How well do I understand the dimensions?
  • Do I think that this is a true representation of what I am like most of the time?
  • Are there times when I am nothing like this? When?
  • Which of the dimensions are worthy of a closer look?
  • Is the balance of strengths and weaknesses as I would expect?

   Where the dimensions tend to show ‘a bit like me’ or middling scores

Ask yourself:

  • Am I really like this or have I played safe?
  • Would I agree with this profile or is it showing me a lack of confidence in myself?
  • Do I fully understand the dimensions?
  • Are there times when I overlook habits and behaviors rather than trying to understand why I behave in these ways?
  • Which of the dimensions do I think should have come through more strongly, or perhaps scored more weakly?
  • Will others see me like this?
  • Perhaps I might try using a blank profile to get someone close to me to draw a pattern that they think best represents me?

      Where the dimensions exhibit ‘not like me’ or particularly  low scores

Ask yourself:

  • Is this a profile I would expect or have I missed something that I should have picked up?
  • What, if anything, should now be worrying me? Does this profile reflect what I already know? Is there something more that I can do about it?
  • Does I fully understand the dimensions? Maybe I should use the blank profile here, put the actual profile to one side and draw what they think my profile should have said about me?
  • Are there times when I know I’m not like this?

How about using Creativity as a starting point to demonstrate what you have in mind when it comes to action planning?

  • Try guessing at solutions before working them out; see how good your guess was;
  • Play games with routine tasks like revision, rote learning and writing up notes: e.g. timing yourself; inventing a board game; playing ‘any questions?’ or swapping quizzes or crosswords with a friend;
  • Make up characters and situations in which the concepts, ideas and facts in the way in which you learn come to life for you: write or imagine scripts and scenes;
  • Use colour and draw pictures, diagrams, funny faces, symbols, to illustrate your notes;
  • Make mind‐maps with labels or draw ‘trees’ to illustrate the way that your thought processes take shape. ‘meaning branches’ to show how possibilities multiply when you think about alternative scenarios;
  • Use a different kind of writing to present your work: e.g. a stream of consciousness, diary, a cartoon, a news article; try a story book with illustrations, to explain the topic to a much younger learner;
  • Think about the rules you tend to follow in your learning and see if you can break them down constructively by doing something differently;
  • Let your mind ‘float free’ when you are stuck or puzzled; see if your imagination comes up with a way forward;
  • Trust your subconscious mind as much as you do your ability to think through a problem that has given you trouble to resolve.

Learning to see the ‘bigger picture’

  • to help you to identify what is, and what is not, important;
  • to develop long-term memories and understandings;
  • to grow and improve your understanding of the learning process;
  • to develop awareness of how you learn, learning strengths and relative weaknesses.

Making a start … reflecting on the ‘what’ of learning … that all-important subject-matter!

Giving students a large piece of paper encourages them to write too much. It can be a useful strategy for capturing detail, but doesn’t help when needing to weigh up what is really important.

Get your students to make notes on cards or post-its – large enough for the key points, but too small for unnecessary detail.

Encourage students to discuss what must be on their note, and what can be safely considered ‘detail’.

2. Conversions

If information is currently framed in one of the following, for example, challenge students to change it into another format of their choosing: text; mind map; flow 

diagram; storyboard; graph; Venn diagram; ranked bullet points/list; video; teacher explanation; revision notes.

Consider limiting the number of words that can be used – forcing students either to limit words and/or employ images instead, encouraging them to distil what is really important and salient.

Converting information from one medium to another requires students to identify the key features. It can only be converted if it is understood, so that this technique promotes deeper learning. Where students are struggling, it can reveal misconceptions. It helps students to create revision notes for themselves, and in their preferred learning style.

Moving on to the ‘how’ of learning … a couple of well-tried and tested techniques …

1.Going for Three

Begin each lesson with ‘Tell me Three . . things we learned last lesson; ways we learned last lesson; things we still need to find out; things you hope to achieve today’.

End each lesson with ‘Tell me Three . . things we learned today; learning skills we used today; things we need to do next lesson; ways you could become a more effective learner’.

The 3 phrases in italics lift this from reflecting on content and introduces reflection on how the content was acquired.

Ensure that they tell you three. Do not lapse into doing it for them !

 

 

3. Headlines: A useful routine for capturing the key message

This routine draws on the idea of newspaper-type headlines as a vehicle for summing up and capturing the key message of an event, idea, concept, topic, etc. The routine asks one core question:

  • If you were to write a headline for this topic or issue right now that captured the most important aspect that should be remembered, what would that headline be?

Consider following it up with the challenge of writing the first paragraph only of the newspaper article, the one that lays out all of the key information related to the headline.

This routine works especially well at the end of a class discussion or session in which students have explored a topic and gathered a fair amount of new information or opinions about it.