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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in active learning

Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

5StepsToBetterMemoryAndUnderstanding.jpg

Practice makes permanent. This is what we've become conditioned to say in recent years. It's a true statement no doubt, but what kind of practice are we talking about? And, how do we teach our students to practice to attain better memory, understanding, and ultimately deeper learning?

Here's the method I use:

CrushSchoolApproachtoMemoryandUnderstanding.png

1. Get Good Sleep

The brain uses a lot of energy, which produces a lot of waste products. This waste is made up of toxins that can destroy brain cells unless they are removed. The buildup of toxins makes it hard to focus. The toxins are flushed out during sleep when the brain relaxes. If you don't sleep enough, toxins build up. A tired brain and a toxic brain doesn’t work very well, so learning is harder.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies
 

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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?

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Posted by on in What If?

1950s schoolchildren sitting at desks 777x388

One of my least favorite sentences in the entire universe is some version of “It’s always been done this way.” Just by typing it I can feel my blood pressure rise!

Why, I wonder, would anyone find that to be a suitable response to any question? In my opinion, it’s not a reasonable explanation for the continuation of any practice. And I find it particularly maddening when it’s used as an excuse – whether spoken aloud or not – for continuing to make children sit still to learn!

I imagine that when school was first conceived, the easiest thing to do was simply to have the children seated in rows, with the teacher at the head of the classroom. Mind you, I don’t consider “easy” to be a good-enough reason for much, either. But back then they didn’t have any research upon which to base their decisions. The same cannot be said for today’s decision makers.

Today, we know that sitting for more than 10 minutes at a time makes us tired and reduces concentration. We also know – thanks to the work of impassioned educators like Eric Jensen – that honest-to-goodness attention can only be maintained for about 10 minutes or less. So, how could anybody consider sitting for long stretches at a time to be ideal for learning?

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Posted by on in General

Self-paced learning can be a great tool.

If you've ever tried to implement mastery or self-paced learning in your classroom, or attempted a long-term project that is student-centered, you've probably tried it (or are still doing it) because, frankly...these things work. Anytime you can make your classroom more student-centered and meet the needs of more students, you're going to increase achievement for your learners.

When self-paced learning goes wrong...

Regardless of how much positive data and research exists for learning that allows students to master material (by the way there is a lot...you can even google it if you want), even the best pedagogy can be destroyed by improper or poor implementation. As I work with schools and districts to implement mastery learning there is a common misconception that can cause this to happen. A lot of educators think that because students are accessing content or curriculum at their own pace that they are also supposed to learn on their own. This couldn't be further from the truth. Self-paced learning is NOT self taught.

Self-paced learning should mean more teaching, not less.

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Posted by on in Teaching Strategies

Happy Friday!

Or Saturday, depending on when you read this.

As school draws closer (or maybe already back to the grind?), teachers and administrators experience a renewed sense of purpose. We reflect on how to start the year off right and how we can do things better.

I have an ironic, but very true answer for doing things better. It involves making mistakes. Lots of mistakes!

I took a screenshot of something I found on Pinterest a while ago and decided to make it into a poster you, I, and the rest of the Universe can print and use in their classroom, office, or spaceship.

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