Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sweet Learning: Choosing Apt Strategy

Almost every lesson begins with a focus question, "What actions lead to learning success?"

I typically point to the words in the chart below, and review these key ingredients to learning. 

After pointing to the chart, I emphasize that identifying and using apt strategy is the big challenge for students and teachers. The strategies we use to teach and learn make a big difference when it comes to learning success.

Today as I introduce the learning strategies of color coding, writing titles, and marking up the text, I'll tell a story from my childhood. 

When I was little, a box of chocolates was a big treat. On special Sunday dinners my grampy, nanny, or Aunt Catherine would often bring a box of Russell Stovers or Whitman's chocolates to our house. After dinner, we'd gather around Mom and the box of delicious treats to pick out our favorites. Mom is an expert at knowing the insides of every chocolate. Sometimes the box had a chocolate map. I really liked matching the chocolates to the map descriptions and picking my favorites: orange cream or caramel.

After telling the story,  I'll make the sweet connection that with learning strategies, like a box of chocolates or a chocolate map, we all have our favorites. Just like a box of chocolates, when choosing an apt strategy, you have to think about the choices available and what's best for the learning at that time. The more strategies you learn and practice, the better you'll be able to choose just right strategies for the learning task you want to master. 

I'll then review a map of many strategies we've used so far this year, and then I'll introduce today's learning strategies. After that we'll apply those strategies to learning about the base-ten place value system.  Later in the year, we'll make our own learning strategy maps, maps students and I will use to further lead the metacognition, choice, and application of apt strategy for learning success.

As I wrote this post, words from Patricia Polacco's book, Thank You Mr. Falker, came to mind. This is a great book to read to inspire thoughtful "learning to learn" skills, care, and perseverance. 

“Honey is sweet, "and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made that sweet honey, you have to chase it through the pages of a book." 

― Patricia Polaccofrom "Thank you, Mr. Falker"