Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Year in Learning at Elk Grove: Pre-Calculus - Part 2 Defining Learning

By Dave Dompke, Kesha Patel, Alyssa Cobb, and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments. You can read all of the previous posts here.  I am going into each teacher's class four times and then they are reflecting alongside their students on the learning that took place and what they hope for.

In this second visit, I asked the teacher and the student two questions: how do they define learning? Under what conditions do people learn best?  In an attempt to have all stakeholders have a similar definition of learning, the teacher and the students answered them, publish them, and then have conversations surrounding their beliefs on learning. This is what they came up with:

Learning is:
  • lifelong.
  • not memorizing.
  • not random facts.

Learning occurs best when people are:
  • experiencing.
  • excited.
  • wanting to learn.

How do you define learning?  

Dave Dompke (Teacher):  Learning is gaining knowledge through experiences.  Those experiences can be with teachers, friends, or by themselves.  It doesn’t have to be in a classroom setting.  Learning is not some quick fact that can repeat to you, but something that will stay with them longer than a day.

Kesha Patel (Student): I define learning as exploring new topics and gaining an understanding for them. It’s not really learning if you’re just memorizing a formula and using for problems that are written differently but based on the same idea. It’s more understanding why a formula works the way it does and being able to apply it to a problem that barely has anything to do with what I already learned. I think that’s when I can say I truly learned the concept.

Alyssa Cobb (Student): I define learning as acquiring new information whether school related, life/career related or simply a random fact. It can be something completely new or taking old information to better master it.

How do you believe people learn best? 

Dave Dompke (Teacher):  I believe people learn best when they experience it through activities they enjoy.  When they come across new ideas or concepts and are learning new things, they are excited to learn about it.  They want to know more.

Kesha Patel (Student): I think people learn best when they’re understanding what they’re learning. I feel like with all the math formulas I generally just memorize them and I don’t get how it was created and why it works every time. If I get why something works the way it does, I can work out problems with needing to memorize a formula.

Alyssa Cobb (Student): I believe people learn best when they get to pick the environment they’re expected to learn something. If you’re distracted or not able to focus and you’re not the one choosing how you’re learning or studying it really isn’t your fault if you’re not able to understand the concept, but with that, the learner has to be mature enough to pick a good place to learn. Also, a person with a mindset of wanting to learn will generally learn better than those who don’t have that same mindset. If you’re focused and willing you will be able to learn overtime time whether that’s quickly or a longer period of time.


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