Taking Steps to Improve the Learning Process

So let’s review.  Step 1:  Identify what you know.  Step 2: Make an attempt  Step 3:  Identify difficulties, things that need to change.  Step 4:  With the analysis from Step 3, work out ways to solve the problem and work on ONLY the problem at hand.

On to Step 5!  Woohoo!  You’ve fixed the basic problem, and now you need to reintegrate it into the process.  What do I mean by this?  Have you ever made a custard?  Wait, wait, don’t run away!  This will make sense.

When you make a custard, you heat milk and some other ingredients in a sauce pan.  You beat eggs in another container, then you have to add them to the cooking stuff.  Problem is, if you just dump the eggs in, they cook up and you get a lumpy mess.  To integrate them, you have to take some of the hot liquid and pour it into the eggs gradually so they don’t cook, once you have enough of the cooked ingredients to the eggs, the temperature of the egg mixture has moved up and the eggs are sufficiently mixed in and won’t clump together when poured into the hot mixture.  It works the same with any new skill or information.  You gradually integrate it into the larger process.

Let’s go to soccer.  You had a problem dribbling.  So you dribbled with your right foot, then you dribbled with your left foot, then you alternated feet.  Problem solved?  Nope.  You can dribble but only from a standing start.  So now you have someone pass it to you and you dribble some then pass it back.

Try music.  Your choir has worked on 1 passage for 20 min.  Everyone is tired of singing it.  Your director is weird, and she says, “Altos?  Sing your part, here’s your starting note.  Everyone else?  Try to mess them up…sing anything you want.”  The altos have sung it perfectly amid distraction!  “Yay!  Now let’s start 5 measures before this passage to get the page turn and continue to the end of the line.”  The choir director has integrated the difficult passage into the section.

Try math.  You have been working on Pythagorean Theorems.  Now, given the dimensions of this 5 sided shape, determine the area.  You know how to do the 4 sided figure, so you draw the 4th line and the remaining area is a triangle which can be divided into 2 right triangles.  Now you know how to find the area of that triangle because of the Pythagorean theorem.

Integration into the larger process or project is essential when learning something new.  It puts everything in context.  Now you have a smooth entrance and exit from the difficulty.

Now I will give you a day to think about what the LAST STEP is.  It is mind bogglingly simple, but very important.  See who can come up with the last step.

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