Monday, July 14, 2008

Three stages of Learning

Kids often say, how come it's so easy on the board but not in the test?

I tell my kids in class that there are three stages of learning. Stage one, anything I do on the board looks like gibberish. Stage two, the student can do stuff themselves - but forgets as soon as they walk out the door at the end of the lesson. Stage three students have mastered the topic and will be able to do well in their test.

It's not in any text that I have read - but is pretty logical and there are things students can do to get through each stage.

Step one is the first hurdle and requires engaging with the lesson, asking questions, listening, working with fellow students and seeing the teacher after class when necessary. Once understanding is gained only then is application and practice of any use.

Step two is about application. Have I done enough practice to make sure I don't forget this. Typically this is where most students fall down - some students need only a little revision to remember things, others need a lot and this changes with difficulty levels. There are many pitfalls here, but the path to mastery is overlearning - doing something to the point where thinking is not needed. Do your homework too, it's a good test of whether or not you have finished this stage!

Step three is where the current topic can provide a solid basis for the next topic. It's where so few students end up with the hectic pace of our current curriculum. When a student consistently reaches this stage is when a student really starts to do well.

Update 19/9/09: I later added a mastery step 4 and renamed the model the "Duh? I get it.. I got it.. I got it real good like" model, which kids seem to relate to.

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