Byron's Babbles

How Did You Learn Today?

What gets learned is very different than
“how” the learning happens. If we only focus
on the “what” we miss tremendous
opportunities for learning to occur. Think about when you were a kid or when you ask your own kids today, “What did you learn at school today?” Answer: “Nothing.”

But how about those days when some activity, project, or lab really tripped your trigger? Were you learning? Yes. What made it impactful was how you learned. We all learn differently whether we are adults or kids and there must be a variety of engagement strategies used. Even better is to give the student choice and agency in deciding the “how.”

Our scholars learn in a complex social environment and we have rapidly changing contexts. When teaching with relevance and how students learn, four important learning criteria are enhanced: core academics, stretch learning, learner engagement, and personal skill development. Students need to develop skills in information searching and researching, critical analysis, summarizing and synthesizing, inquiry, questioning and exploratory investigations, and design and problem solving.

While facilitating some student focus groups recently, the students pointed out that some teachers fail to provide a context through observations, inferences, and actions appropriate for students to make the connection to the real world. These connections help the students to understand higher-level science concepts. Students, now more than ever, want to understand how they will use what they are learning today in life or in a career. We adults are the same way, we want to learn things we can use immediately in what we do.

We need to remember to frame learning as a process rather than merely an outcome. Additionally, meaning making, is at the core of how we learn. Finally, how we learn includes the role of prior experience and interpretation of that experience. This is where we must help in providing experiences to give real world context. Thus, why I am such a proponent of work-based learning, apprenticeships, and internships. How we learn matters!

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