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Learning How To Learn

March 23, 2012

There are dozens of books, courses and experts out there offering the answers to how to get students to become better learners. This is an area we’ve been working on for a while, and our conclusion is that, rather than give students discrete activities to build their learning skills, the first step is to give students learning projects where the focus is the learning, not the content; the process not the product. That’s what we’ve been doing recently through our Blackfen’s Got Talent project.

The project is quite straight forward – ask students to choose something they would like to be talented at, and then learn how. For more details and lesson resources, follow THIS link.

The challenge is to keep the focus on the learning itself, rather than the talent show at the end. Our students have really taken to it, and have been harassing us at break and lunch to carry on learning. How often does that happen? A few of the students’ conclusions from the project are:

  • learning takes time
  • you have to stick at it and don’t give up
  • when you get stuck, ask for help or try to learn it in a different way
  • break learning down into simple steps
  • when you succeed you just want to keep on learning
  • learning is fun and makes you feel good!

And a final thought – teachers often bemoan students’ inability to learn independently. The problem is, when teachers say ‘learn independently’ they really mean, ‘learn what I’ve told you to learn, but without me having to keep you on task.’  That’s not independent learning! Learning will only be independent, when students have a significant say in what or how they learn. Give them that, and I guarantee you they will learn independently. Students love to learn independently… we just don’t give them many opportunities to.

Here’s video showing some of our work:

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Wood permalink
    March 24, 2012 9:30 am

    Great lessons – thanks for sharing

  2. Pete Pattisson permalink
    March 24, 2012 10:05 am


  3. Lisa permalink
    May 15, 2012 8:59 pm

    Loved this so much Pete, i had a big grin on my face all the way through watching it and cannot wait to get back to school to share the idea!!

  4. Pete Pattisson permalink
    May 16, 2012 5:43 pm

    Thanks Lisa – tell me how it goes! Pete


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