Learning & Understanding

Learning is growth through exploration, metacognition, experience, and transfer. My understanding of how people learn is that they need to explore and reflect upon their experience they had exploring. They come to understand new ideas by including previous experiences and prior knowledge to what they are learning. This is part of the reason that the learning processes of novices and experts differ. Everyone is transferring their own unique experiences and applying it to what they are exploring. I believe this is an important concept to embrace because no two people are exactly alike or have lived the identical lives. Every person has their own story that has brought them to where they are in this moment. People change their minds about what they thought they knew by recognizing learning gaps or misconceptions through failure or making mistakes. Not everyone may realize that they are using metacognition or be aware of their own thinking advancements. That is why it is important, as teachers, to directly model how our thinking has changed so that we can teach students to be reflective with their learning and experiences. We are not teaching robots to memorize information. Teachers are here to help learners understand and make sense of the world we live in. One of my favorite ways to model how thinking changes in my classroom is to use the “I used to think, But now I Think” Visible Thinking Routine. This teaching method supports learning and its related concepts of understanding and conceptual change.

According to Bransford (1999),  “all new learning involves transfer” (p.78), which means that students need to be transferring academic knowledge to the real world and everyday knowledge to school. I think this is key because when the learning is more meaningful and relevant to students, they can easily transfer and apply their learning to any situation. Our goal as teachers is to foster life-long learning and what better way to do that then by making learning meaningful and relevant. I want to mold my students to be self-learners because they aren’t always going to have a teacher. At some point in their life, they will need to become their own teacher, which is why I think it is important to let them love learning.

Ito (2013) says that 1) formal education is often disconnected and lacking relevance 2) learning is meaningful when it is part of valued relationships, shared practice, culture, and identity and 3) young people need connection and translation between in-school and out-of-school learning. Another method that couples understanding and conceptual change is Connected Learning. It knits together three crucial contexts for learning: peer culture, interests, and academics (Ito, 2013, p.62). A powerful activity that I implemented in my kindergarten classroom was Genius Hour. My students were able to learn about a topic of their choice. There were no guidelines on how this needed to be presented. They just needed to be the experts and be able to teach someone else about their topic that they were so passionate about. When my students were given time to learn about what they wanted to learn, I had very few students off task. Kids took this home with them and began to notice and apply what they were learning about to the real world. My students would be so excited to share their findings with me when they got to school, in the morning. The high quality work and innovation that came from Genius Hour blew me away. It was clear that Genius Hour was relevant, supported by valued relationships, and was translated to out-of-school contexts.

Some words that describe my teaching mindset are collaboration, transfer, motivation, patience, critical/deep thinning, flexibility, play/making, self-learners, problem solvers, perseverance, creativity, connected learning, high standards. This is what drives me to teach the way I teach. I integrate new technologies into my classroom because I feel that it is necessary for my students to be literate with the technology we use today. The world is always evolving and technology is always changing. In order to make learning relevant for them, the use of current technologies is important. Ito (2013) says that “new media plays a role in connected learning” (p.82). I believe that my job as a teacher is to change with the change. I cannot be close minded and stick to what I know. It is important for me to go outside of my comfort zone and learn new technology because that is how people learn. How can I expect my students to do this if I don’t?

 

Resources:

Bransford, J., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (1999). How people learn brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Mizuko Ito (2013).  Connected Learning an agenda for research and design.  Retrieved from http://dmlhub.net/sites/default/files/Connected_Learning_report.pdf

 

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