Monday, April 1, 2013

5 Excellent Strategies to Teach Students how to Learn

" Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day but teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime " this quip summarizes the essence of education and learning. Teach students how to learn and they will learn for the rest of their lives.The focus should be on the process not the end product, but unfortunately today's educational system with its emphasis on high stake tests and standardized assessment puts the cart in front of the horse and turn students into empty pails that require filling up each time they are to pass a test. To redress the situation and empower our students with the learning and social skills they need to thrive in tomorrow's job market, inquiry based learning is the answer.

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Just like the 6 other important learning strategies I talked about in an earlier post here in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning, inquiry-based learning should have the lion's share in your teaching practice. By definition, inquiry based learning is a learning process that is based on inquiry or asking questions. Through asking challenging questions learners get intrinsically motivated to start delving deeper to find answers for these questions and in doing so they are exploring new avenues of knowledge and insight. In this regard, Mindshift proposed  five tools to guide inquiry learning that we should consider when teaching our students how to learn . I am sharing them with you below. Enjoy

1. An Inquiry Community is the class itself. Each member is exploring a topic related to the same class unit and students can help one another clarify ideas. “All of this is set within the social context of an inquiry community,” said Maniotes. “We value that community and we’re using all these other tools to inform the level of conversation we might have within that community.” 
2. An Inquiry Circle is a small group where students can talk to one another around a specific topic that fits within the umbrella of the broader class unit. Inquiry circles are a place for students to talk out all their wild ideas and work best when instructors leave them alone. 
3. The Inquiry Journal is one of the most powerful tools in the inquiry learning repertoire and should be utilized throughout the process. It’s a place for students to reflect on both the process and the content they discover as they go along. It’s important to emphasize to students that the journals should be used to reflect on how he or she learns best and what feelings come up at different points in the process. It’s meant to give them a moment to stop and think about what they’ve read and why it’s important. The journal can also be a good bridge between the student and instructor. 
4. The Inquiry Log helps students to keep track of the learning journey and every choice, change in direction or exciting moment along the way. “When they are able to see where they came from and where they got to it is very powerful for them,” said Maniotes. 
5. The Inquiry Chart is a great tool to help students identify a central question. They can chart, brainstorm and map their ideas in many ways. Getting them down on paper can help visualize what areas of research are well fleshed out and would make good focus points and which are tangential. Part of inquiry learning is teaching students how to make good academic decisions on resources and content, as well as recognizing when persistence is needed to dig deeper.

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