I just came from the the Ateneo Center for English Language Teaching (ACELT) conference and I want to share some of my learnings from it.
The Workshop I attended was Best Practices: Developing Habits of Learning in the Elementary English Class.
I believe the following habits of learning are useful to implement in other classes and subjects, not just English.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Author Unknown
The elementary years are crucial years as these are the years when learning habits and attitudes are solidified. Habits are hard to break so what better way than to mold our students by teaching them to adopt good learning habits.
Habit #1: Set and Manage Goals
It’s important to integrate in your teaching procedure the art of setting and managing goals. You can instill this in your students by setting the goals in place right at the beginning of your class.
You can even write on the board the goals you and your students will target for that specific class meeting. In this way, the students will be motivated to achieve the goals you have set in place for them as it is clearly visible. You can also set a reward for further motivation if the class meets the goals you have set for that day.
Habit #2: Cultivate your Network
This habit is very powerful. Knowledge is not only derived from self. You can get knowledge from friends, family and other resources such as the internet and books.
What this means for the classroom is that learning should not be always independent. Group or cooperative learning is important too, in fact, it might be even more important than self learning because we have a natural need to connect to people and that collaboration is key to success in real life.
Cooperative learning sets this habit into place, that learning need not be an isolated activity, but a collaboration with others. Wikipedia is an example of a massive learning collaboration online.
Habit #3: Ask Questions
Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers. -Anthony Robbins
Questions are important for learning. I think one of the skills we teachers have to excel in is the art of making good questions. Good questions make our students think.
Of course, we are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy and it serves as a brilliant guide in forming questions. The UBD framework is also an excellent tool in helping us improve in the art of making good questions.
What we can do in the classroom is to consistently ask good questions. Don’t feed the students with answers immediately. Let them thirst to find the answer.
Make them curious to get the answer. Teach them to persevere in their quest for knowledge. Now in many cases, there are plenty of possible correct answers. It is important we remain open minded about the different possibilities.
Habit #4: Be an Active Note Taker
This is an important skill for students to develop. This is part of active learning and supported by Brain Based learning principles.
Now, note taking is not copying verbatim what the teachers say. We have to teach our students how to get main ideas and important facts and details during a discussion and lesson proper.
We can also teach them the art of mindmapping popularized by Tony Buzan as it is a visually appealing and is a great tool for learning. Mindmapping allows students to tap into their creativity and to learn how to categorize and organize what they are learning.
Habit #5: Lifelong Learning
Learning is perpetual. There is always something to learn. Here, modeling will play an important role. We have to show our students that learning is fun and we have to exude that enthusiasm for learning. Even though, we might be doing the same topic year after year, there is always something new to learn and teach it better.
We also have to affirm our students when they are driven to study and learn new things. Praise them for sharing new knowledge to others. Congratulate them when they create something original or when they collaborate with peers to create something new.
Learning improves lives.
Habit #6: Practice Deliberately
Yes, Practice makes perfect. But the practice must be relevant and contextual. The students must be able to relate to it and see the relevance of what they are studying to their lives. Drills are useful at the start at the basics but once they have mastered the basics, it’s time to bring their activities and practices to a higher level.
Your turn: What habits of learning are you teaching and implementing in your classroom? Please share it to us in the comments section! 🙂
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