Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash
Let's be honest. High school, middle school, elementary; most students don't know how to learn effectively. It's because they are rarely taught about their brain. They know it's there. They use it. And yet... They don't know how to guide it. Few consider how to leverage their brain to become awesome learners.
Even if we teach them how to, I don't think we do it enough. We might introduce this or that strategy and then expect students to do it every time. The truth is that in most cases they won't. Or, they might use it in the classroom while we watch, but not at all when learning on their own.
It's not because the strategy is no good. Typically, the opposite is true: the strategy kicks ass and is a game changer. So what gives?
Old habits are hard to break and new ones are hard to form. It's that simple/complicated. Our brain does not like change. Evolution made it so. Deal with it. No, really. Deal with it by stressing what works, practicing it over and over, coming back to it repeatedly, and making it "second nature."
You probably know the 3 strategies below well. You know the "whats." My hope is to provide you with a few extra "whys" and "hows" you can take to your students.
I also included a chapter on summarizing in my book. It's a 3 minute read on why and how to summarize. Basically, it stresses making the information "your own" and sticking to 3 key points as doing so prevents information overload and increases retention.
Questions to ask your teaching self: Do I ask students to summarize (presentation, reading, video etc.) EVERY TIME? Do I stick to 3 MAIN POINTS PER LESSON or is there a chance my students get overwhelmed?
We all encourage students to ask questions. Many have them. Most don't ask them. One reason is they are not comfortable asking in front of everyone. Another is they don't always know how to ask good questions.
Let's teach them to ask deep questions. One way is by using the left side of the Cornell notes to write higher order thinking questions after students take notes. They can use these questions to test their own understanding while studying. Another way is to have a separate notes section for writing down questions as they arise during learning, so that students capture them and thus have the opportunity to ask them later.
Questions to ask your teaching self: Do I ask students to write down questions they can ask when they feel SAFE? Do I provide the RIGHT opportunities for these questions to be answered?
Even in high school, most students reread their notes. This is why the "Crush School" chapter on recall is 4 pages long. It's still only a 5-7 minute read for students, but is packed with recall hacks, strategies, and explanations of why it's a game changer in learning.
Basically, recall is retrieval of information from memory and as such is an active learning/studying strategy. It involves testing yourself whether you remember and understand information, making and correcting mistakes, and mixing up where, what, and how you learn.
Questions to ask your teaching self: Do my students RECALL or REREAD? Do they KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?
The 4 strategies I described are key to teaching students metacognition when supported with brain science. Brain science does not have to be difficult to explain. In fact, it isn't. All you have to do is provide students with the basic understanding of how connections between brain cells are formed and how they are more likely to survive when the learning process is active.
This is what my book "Crush School" teaches students. I wrote it to help parents and teachers help students learn. It explains how the brain works and is best used to learn. And, it is a student book that doesn't suck.
Grab a copy and use it to teach students how to learn.
You have the power to change lives. Use it often.
Hey, I’m Oskar.
My mission is to change the world of education (but not only) by providing teachers and parents with the tools that empower them to provide and advocate for the best education for their kids.
I teach skills and entrepreneurship using brain science. Check out my blog.