Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ASCD Express: Building Skills for Independent Learning

There are so many great resources on the web. I could keep busy reading professional articles 24/7 if I actually had that kind of time!

I ran across this quick article about teaching independence and making students the center of their own learning, and I thought it was worth sharing. So many things to think about!

Click on the logo for the link to the article, "Building Skills for Independent Learning."


I am reminded of a child in my class. Darling child, whose parents told me on day one that he was very, very intelligent and would need advanced work. He's full of facts, true, but developmentally, he's in the right place. Poor little dear just struggles with every single procedure and  bit of instruction, no matter how well I explain the process. He frequently ends up lined up by the door when the rest of the class is sitting on the floor in front of the easel with their white boards. Or he'll bring his book box and a pair of scissors (random, I know!) to the carpet and sit, when everyone else is sitting in their table groups getting started on their math journals. And speaking of scissors, he can't remember the correct way to hold them from one day to the next. I have tried having him repeat instructions, I've tried pairing him with a buddy... but I'm not seeing any dramatic improvements, yet.

And then one day, I witnessed something very enlightening. His dad brought him into the classroom. His dad carried his backpack and his jacket and the papers he needed to turn in that day. Dad tied his shoes and told him to say, "Good morning" to me... and then he asked me where to put the backpack and jacket and papers. Those are all things that the child knows! I made a comment like, "Oh, you need to carry your own backpack! That's your job... and do you know where to put it?"

His father looked at me like I was crazy! Then he asked again where the papers went. I turned to the child and said, "Can you show your dad where we turn in papers?" It took a minute, but he figured it out. I prompted him to take the papers from his dad and turn them in himself.

It hit me like a ton of bricks that day. This poor little child has just been doing what his parents tell him (don't get me wrong--- that's important!!) But he hasn't had the opportunity to develop self-help skills or practice any independence at all. One day he looked hot and I said, "Would you like to take your sweater off?" And he replied, "You can take it off for me." Haha! THAT wasn't going to happen. I stood by and coached him on how to remove the sweater, but I didn't help. He struggled for quite a while, but eventually did it.

I see a direct carryover academically. He knows (but doesn't truly understand) lots of facts, but he has difficulty with independent skills. He's used to sitting passively while his parents feed him knowledge. The facts he spouts out all the time are impressive, and yet, he lacks some basic understandings--- because he's a five-year-old! I know that he really doesn't have an understanding of how far a mile is-- or how far 92 million miles is!

I've added ideas from this article to his goal sheet for the year: self-regulation, persistence, and collaboration. He's a pretty long way from being able to collaborate... at this point I'd be thrilled if he could notice what his table mates are doing and follow suit.

I love these express articles from ASCD! Always something worthwhile to think about!




No comments:

Post a Comment