Independent Learning

How do you teach your students to be learn without you? How will they learn when you aren't there to create a Powerpoint, a handout, a  screencast, a Jing tutorial, a Youtube video, etc? Do you explicitly name and teach these skills or are they implied?

I've been researching some literacy strategies for technical reading, reading textbooks, and so on (which I will probably blog about later) and I'm realizing that we need to be more intent on teaching specific learning and comprehension skills.

This was all sparked by our conversation about the use of textbooks, which I'm still reading, asking, listening, and learning about.

What I've come away with so far is that I need to teach my students how to learn and how they learn so that they know what to do in any context, whether that be college, trade school, work, parenthood, marriage, etc.

That is 21st century learning.


  1. Alas, that was 20th century learning too.

    But only by good teachers.

    Good teachers facilitate learning so the students will take and make the learning their own. This is what it means to "teach them to learn".


  2. I love this. I am working so hard to help my students become independent learners. They are 6th and 7th graders, so this is the first time they have had that freedom in many cases. Many times they tell me they were "stuck" on their homework - so they quit. I would love for them to start looking for resources to help them without having to hold their hands every step of the way. What I am trying to do is expose them to as many resources as possible, and show them how to use those resources. I have them for two years, but then I want them to be able to be successful in math without me. I know that they cannot possibly remember all of the things that we learn everyday. This is why being able to use their resources is so important! We are still a long way from this. I did not do as well this year as I would have liked. I'm still working on it though!

  3. I'll give a shameless plug for my post http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/technical-reading/
    but that is really not much more than a pointer to Mylène's posts
    and http://shiftingphases.com/2011/05/23/reading-comprehension-identifying-confusion/

    They are worth reading.

  4. Great observations on 21st century learning. I hope each and every summer (for the past 8 years at least) that I will get ahead and focus on creating some great stuff for the upcoming year but alas, something comes up. This year I have 74 staff development hours planned and want to spend at least that many hours prepping for next year.

    Teaching a new class next year with no curriculum will give me the freedom to do with it what I choose and I think that this will be perfect for my growth as a middle school math teacher.

  5. Bon,
    Good point.

    I want to focus on how to use those resources as well although I'm thinking more of the textbook and searching for resources. Who will be there to put together a wiki of resources when they aren't in school anymore?

    I already read all of Mylene's blog posts about reading comprehension and pretty much everything she linked too. Thanks

    I want to do so much this summer too but I have two weeks of professional development plus four weeks of grad school which leaves me with about 5 weeks to plan a new prep and do everything else plus actually have summer vacation. :(

  6. That's just the point though - where do YOU go when you want to find answers? How do you search? When you want to teach a great lesson, where do you go for ideas?

    Yes, they can go to the Math Help pages that they helped create now, while they are in school, in my class. However, in creating these pages, I hope that they discovered how many resources are out there for them. I hope they discovered that they don't have to stay "stuck", but that they can search for answers - because they are out there.

    This is just one of the resources that I teach them to use as well. We have been intensively using our textbooks in the past month. And, they scored better as a class on the test I graded tonight than they have done all year.

    I have so many things that I want to do next year that I can't even get it all sorted out in my head at this point!

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