On Teaching Effective Learning

Sarah LynnSarah Lynn

On Teaching Effective Learning

“We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” — John Dewey

In the rush to pack classes with exciting activities, time for review and reflection often gets squeezed out. But those rare quiet moments are essential to effective learning. They allow students to consolidate their learning, commit new information to memory, assess their understanding, and identify areas for more practice. …

The basic ingredients to a reflection are always the same:

  1. Review
  2. Evaluate
  3. Plan for the next step in learning.

The way you present these ingredients has infinite variety. Here are three activities I have used in my classes:

Review Class Notes

For homework, students review their class notes.

  • Students mark a check next to the points they understand.
  • They write a question mark (?) next to any section that confuses them.
  • They mark an addition sign (plus sign) next to any language point they want to practice more.
  1. At the beginning of the next class, ask if anyone has questions about last class. Students can quickly identify the areas they need help in.

Recap the Class

  1. At the end of class, ask the class “What did we do in class today? What did you learn?” Write students’ ideas on the board.
  2. Pointing to the complete list on the board, ask students “What was the most important thing you learned today?” Place a star (*˜…) next to the items students identify.
  3. Ask, “What do you want to practice more?” Place an addition sign (plus sign) (+) next to those items.

Now you have a quick picture of student progress and ideas for practice next class.

Exit Tickets

At the end of class have students write down three things they learned in class. You can make the suggestion more specific, for example:

  • Three new words
  • Three irregular past tense verbs
  • Three important events in U.S. history
  • Three things about their classmates

Come to my blog and add your ideas for reflection activities!