Monday, October 26, 2009

10 Facts about Learning

I came across this blog post in my Twitter Feed and really found it interesting!

10 Facts about Learning

Now, I don't think there's anything that most teachers/parents/service providers don't already know. But it's in a nice easy to find list. I think this post applies to many types of learners and I really think we need to take into account. How does this apply to students specifically with students with significant cognitive disabilities (SCD)? I encourage you to read the original list first! Let's look at it now:

1. Spaced Practice-We know students with SCD benefit from repetition. I think it stands to reason that spacing out this repetition over multiple days/weeks/months. Just tweaking it a little so that you practice the same skill, without repeating the same activity.

2. Cognitive Overload-I think this is obvious that students with SCD can suffer from cognitive overload. What we as educators need to recognize is when our students reach it.

3. Chunking-Breaking a task into smaller parts, has been a time honored way to teach large skills. It should not be treated as an all or nothing, what I mean is...students should not be forced to master one step before moving on. Sometimes this limitation will keep them from learning the sequence. Chunk the parts, but always go over the entire sequence too!

4. Order-Wow, this one struck home. How many times have I said, be careful what you say/do/etc... you never know what they'll learn. Then you have to go back and reteach, and that always means a lot more time. Think it through before you start, have a plan, in the long run you'll benefit.

5. Episodic and semantic memory-A very interesting point.  I think that many people working with students with SCD have realized the power of visuals, kinestetic movement, and other such things, it's not everywhere.  What about the ESL teacher, are they using visuals to support students?  It's a powerful tool, and we need to get it out there!

6.  Psychological Attention-1:1 Learning is the best for many students, but not a practical reality in most special education classrooms.  I think if the ratio is 1:3 that's great for most schools, 1:2 is phenomenal.  I know that distractions can make teaching quite difficult, but sometimes students need to learn how to deal with those distractions.

7.  Context-Again, so true for students with SCD.  Get out of the classroom, take a community based trip, use those skills you've been practicing.  While the internet and web2.0 has allowed us a great opportunity to "visit" many places, it is still nothing like being there!  Students need to be in the thick of it!

8.  Learn by doing-Also an area most special education program understand (at least ones I've been involved in).  Students with SCD learn best with concrete examples, visuals and by doing something. 

9.  Understand 'peer' groups-I guess I'll to read this book, but this is a very difficult area to cover.  Most students with SCD need more peer interactions as a whole.  I think we have to walk a fine line about allowing students independence, and keeping them "safe".  I really don't like the way that sounds, but we have a responsibility to educate our students about the world, and sometimes that means educating them about how their peers really are.

10.  Murder the Myths-Don't really think I can argue with this one.  Time to get back to basics!

This post was quite interesting for me, I'll be honest when I started I thought I would just write a quick - check this out!, but as I got writing I couldn't do that.  Reflection is a skill that must be practiced to be useful.  I think it really helps to look at lots of different opinions to help make reflection a great tool.


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