10 ways to make the learning matter…

Whether we’re thinking about how best to use the new flexible learning spaces or the meaningful integration of technology, it always comes down to the learning. If our goal is for students to learn, we teachers need to focus less on teaching and more on learning…

1. Start from the end.

Decide the desired goals and outcomes first. Then decide on learning experiences which will help the students to get there. Don’t start by planning activities or selecting pages in the text book.

2. Show that you’re a learner too.

Share things you have learned. Invite their opinions on things you have read for your own interest. Learn from and with your students. Be part of the learning community.

3. Focus on learning, not work.

Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Avoid worksheets unless they are really about learning.  Start with the ‘why.

4. Articulate your learning principles.

Consider what you believe about how learning takes places. Build everything else on that foundation…  learning experiences,  interactions, your classroom set-up.

5. Focus on big ideas.

Don’t teach only facts and content. Look at concepts, rather than just topics. Facts are locked in time, place or situation. Big ideas are transferable.  Aim for transfer of learning to other contexts.

6. Listen to what the learners say.

Use what they say to tell you where they are at.  Sometimes it’s not phrased as a question, but they are asking one.  Ask their opinions. Encourage them to talk about the process of learning.

7. Assess for learning.

Don’t test at the end. Use all kinds of formatives assessment along the way (including just listening to your students). Create authentic assessments that show transfer of learning to other contexts, not just factual recall.

8. Focus on individual learners.

Don’t always just teach the whole class at once. Different learners have individual needs. Differentiate as required. Work in groups. Allow choice.

9. Create authentic learning experiences.

Standing out front and talking all the time isn’t an authentic learning experience.  Hands on exploration is.  Finding things out for oneself is. Working things through with peers is. Global interactions are.

10. Let go.

Step back. Talk less. Test less. Don’t make all the decisions. Don’t control all the learning.  Encourage learners to own it.

@CliveSir has created a hilarious xtranormal version of this post!

10 ways series:

10 ways to get students to own their learning

10 ways to foster a love of learning

10 ways to create a culture of thinking

10 ways to grow as an educator

10 ways my thinking has changed

10 ways to think about your learning space

10 ways to help students develop a PLN

10 ways to attract readers to your blog

10 things teachers should unlearn

10 ways to encourage good questions

10 ways to get your students’ respect

10 ways to assess learning without tests

10 ways to motivate students to blog

10 ways to make meetings effective

10 things you can’t do on Monday in period 6

7 thoughts on “10 ways to make the learning matter…

  1. Excellent post! Trying to pick my favourite point to discuss but can’t! All very meaningful advice, thank you for sharing.


  2. Well said! Point #10 resonates the most for me. As we move into more inquiry-based learning, teachers need to become more comfortable with the fact that we talk less. It doesn’t mean we aren’t doing our job, it’s just a natural part of the process as our students discover for themselves, or with their peers. As you stated, let them “own their learning”.
    That’s the part of teaching I love the most!


  3. gosh.. yet another great post Edna. incredible series… turn it into a book. really. at least an ebook.

    on this one i esp like #6. not only to get to know the learner.. but to get to know learning. so much to notice about the process that we often miss.


  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this! I certified for my National Boards for teachers in ’08 and these are the very things we try to show we are striving to do! It’s nice to be reminded of them in a top 10 list!


  5. I love this list! I especially liked #2 & #3 – To be a life-long learner yourself and show a keen curiosity and enthusiasm speaks volumes to your students and transcends static curriculum and makes learning come alive! And #3 – I had a wise university professor ask me “What are you doing with the non-renewable life minutes of your students?” and I’ve never forgotten that. I never want to settle for “busy work” – why waste the minutes??? We can never, ever get them back!


  6. Listening to the students is so important. I’ve learned a lot about learning this year by letting students speak and making sure I am truly listening. Like you said, it may not sound like a question even when they are asking one. The best teachers are the best listeners; listening with their ears, listening with their eyes, and listening with their hearts.


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