Learning to see the ‘bigger picture’
First, some thoughts on the way in which teachers might amend their classroom practice to support the development of the students’ learning habits
- How would you tweak your classroom practice or culture to support the learning dimensions that your students need to strengthen?
- Ask yourself which of the learning dimensions are showing low scores for most students and why you think that might be?
- Would it be a good idea to select the lowest scoring learning dimensions to work on first?
- What do you already do to support the growth of each of the learning dimensions, how might tweak them and what difference do you expect any change to make?
- It is always a good idea to highlight things that go on outside the classroom that your students might try to approach and do differently.
Growing Strategic Awareness
thoughtful | reflective | making conscious choices | planning | readily sharing learning experiences | acute personal awareness | exercising control | applying effective learning strategies | hungry for new knowledge | experiments to find best practice
- to help students to identify what is, and what is not, important;
- to develop long-term memories and understandings;
- to grow and improve student understanding of the learning process;
- to develop students’ awareness of how they learn, their learning strengths and relative weaknesses.
Making a start … reflecting on the ‘what’ of learning … that all-important subject-matter!
1. How about using post-its or cards to capture the best ideas?
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’.
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 !
2. 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.