User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Posts Tagged ‘school reform

The Other 21st Century Skills: Educator Self-Assessment

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I’ve posted about The Other 21st Skills and Attributes.  This post provides links and resources about these skills as well as an educator self-assessment.  This assessment contains questions to assist the educator in evaluating if and how s/he is facilitating these skills and attributes in the learning environment. skills

21st century skills

Related Resources:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

January 16, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Best Education-Related Videos of 2014

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I love end of year “best of” lists.  My own list is what I found to be the most powerful education related videos of 2014. They all, in some way, address the mind, heart, and spirit of education.  Each touched me in some way to help illuminate the purpose and core of education. Let me know of any others that you found of value during 2014!

Malala Yousuf Nobel Prize Speech

So through my story I want to tell other children all around the world that they should stand up for their rights. They should not wait for someone else and their voices are more powerful. Their voices – it would seem that they are weak, but at the time when no one speak, your voice gets so loud that everyone has to listen to it. Everyone has to hear it. So it’s my message to children all around the world that they should stand up for their rights.

Maya Angelou on George Stroumboulopoulos

Always so very beautiful – RIP, beautiful woman!

I must must tell you the truth as I understand it.  You might be the last person with whom I speak. Life is life and death is death, so I must tell the truth when I speak.

What I really want to do is be a representative of my race; the human race. I have a chance to show how kind we can be, how intelligent and generous we can be. I have a chance to teach and to love and to laugh.

Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing You Can Improve

How are we raising our children? Are we raising them for now instead of yet? Are we raising kids who are obsessed with getting A’s? Are we raising kids who don’t know how to dream big dreams?  Let’s not waste any more lives, because once we know that abilities are capable of such growth, it becomes a basic human right for children, all children, to live in places that create that growth, to live in places filled with yet.  

Sir Ken Robinson: Can Creativity Be Taught

Teaching is a process of enabling. It’s a process of giving people opportunities. It’s a process of encouragement. It’s a process of inspiration, of mentoring.  Gifted teachers help people discover their creative talents, to nurture them, to hone them, and to become more creative as a result.

President Obama on the Whitehouse Maker Faire

But what’s happening is, is that the young people now are able to learn by doing. So math, science all gets incorporated into the task of actually making something, which the students tell me makes the subject matter that much more interesting. We’re helping schools take shop class into the 21st century, because one of the things I’m really interested in is how do we redesign high schools so that young people are able to do stuff as they are learning.

Toxic Culture of Education: Joshua Katz

THOSE students are marginalized by what I call our “Toxic Culture of Education.” It doesn’t matter if a student is a gifted artist, a loving caretaker, a poetic writer, or a talented musician. THOSE students are the fish being measured on how they climb trees.  We need to start paying attention to our students. If a student fails Algebra 1 in the ninth grade, chances are it is not because they do not understand the material. Chances are it’s not because the teacher isn’t teaching. Chances are it’s not because of the school. Chances are it is because the student lacks some type of intangible characteristic (a “Non-Cognitive Behavior”) that enables them to succeed. Things like persistence, initiative, social skills, common sense, a full belly, or a good night’s sleep.

The necessity of the student voice | Catherine Zhang

Our projects seem more like coloring activities than actual content, and we were forced to only consider one interpretation especially on multiple choice tests. We knew there was something fundamentally wrong with the way we were being taught, but as students we were powerless. At a time we are trying to answer these large questions about the future of education, we’re leaving out this huge portion of the population.  Student are this untapped resource.  We’re the only ones at the receiving end of education. Asking these educational experts about what appeals to kids without asking students, themselves, is like asking your 92 year old grandmother how to use Instragram when you have a teenager in the house.

Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age – Mitchel Resnick

Not only do new technologies have us rethink what we learn and how we learn, we can also rethink where we learn, when we learn, and with whom we learn. With technology we can be learning all of the time.  If we think of technology in the right way, we can break out of old outmoded models of learning.  New technologies help us rethink the structures of schools.

Individualization, failure and fun | Cordell Steiner

Failure was an awesome experience and had a purpose. You are able to learn from your failure. You have the opportunity to go back over and over again; and work until you master a skill.

Inspire Her Mind

Isn’t it time we tell her she is PRETTY BRILLIANT, too.

You can help stop the violence against young black men | Verna Myers

And we’ve got to be willing to not shelter our children from the ugliness of racism when black parents don’t have the luxury to do so, especially those who have young black sons. We’ve got to take our lovely darlings, our future, and we’ve got to tell them we have an amazing country with incredible ideals, we have worked incredibly hard, and we have made some progress, but we are not done. We still have in us this old stuff about superiority and it is causing us to embed those further into our institutions and our society and generations, and it is making for despair and disparities and a devastating devaluing of young black men. We still struggle, you have to tell them, with seeing both the color and the character of young black men, but that you, and you expect them, to be part of the forces of change in this society that will stand against injustice and is willing, above all other things, to make a society where young black men can be seen for all of who they are.

If I Knew Then: A Letter to Me on My First Day Teaching

Kid President Throws a Surprise Party for a Retiring Teacher

Erzah French: Sportskid of the Year

You can dream it, you can hope it, you can make it happen; I choose to make it happen.

Malcolm Mitchell Book Club

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

December 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Experiential Learning: Is there really a question about this?

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The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them. Aristotle

Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results. John Dewey

My training as an educator occurred through experiential education rather than the traditional route.  Experiential Education is based on the following principles as articulated by the Association for Experiential Education:

  • Experiential learning occurs when carefully chosen experiences are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis.
  • Experiences are structured to require the learner to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
  • Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner2 is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  • Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
  • The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
  • Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
  • The educator and learner may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
  • Opportunities are nurtured for learners and educators to explore and examine their own values.
  • The educator’s primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
  • The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
  • Educators strive to be aware of their biases, judgments and pre-conceptions, and how these influence the learner.
  • The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes. (http://www.aee.org/what-is-ee)

I know no other way of teaching.  Knowing the powerful results of experiential education, it confuses me as to why more (if not all) educators don’t teach this way.  In the graphic below, the images in the left column are learners from my own classrooms, the images on the right symbolize more traditional approaches in educational institutions.  As “A picture says a 1000 words,” the expressions of the learners say engagement, interest, joy, and learning.  Which do you want your students, your children to experience at school?

Prefer_

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 26, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Maker Education Conference Workshop

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The slide presentation and participant photos from a professional development workshop for educators:

 

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

October 11, 2014 at 5:20 pm

School Should Be More Like Camp

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Some things about me:

  • I love to learn, create, invent, ponder and imagine what can be.  I consider myself insatiable when it comes to learning
  • I hated school from 2nd grade through college.  It was painfully boring for me.
  • I loved summer camp.  I went to day camp for 10 years.
  • I have vivid memories of my camp experiences.  I have vague, blurred memories of school.
  • I feel that I learned so much more at camp than I did at school.
  • I believe that school wasted and basically stole my time.

So needless to say, I promote the idea that school should be more like camp. What follows is a chart comparing school to camp.  Which would you prefer to attend?  Which would you prefer your own children to experience?

school-camp

What follows are some excerpts of articles that reinforce these ideas.

From Why Can’t School Be More Like Camp

Focus on Relationships, Team Building, and Goal Setting

The first day of school would start with the teacher leading the students in team building activities and giving them ample opportunities to get to know each other. Kids would be paired and grouped in different ways to make sure that everyone learns everyone else’s name. New kids would be warmly welcomed by returning kids.  They would also learn about each other’s talents and interests. This conversation would be ongoing throughout the year to give kids the chance to share with and encourage each other as they learn new things.

Hands-On, Active Learning by Doing

If school were more like camp, hands-on activities would far outnumber multiple-choice tests. The information that really “sticks” is the stuff we do, so why is so much time spent on memorizing things that are forgotten within days?

If school were more like camp, students would spend less time sitting at a desk quietly working by themselves on a work sheet and more time practicing teamwork and collaboration, working on science projects and presentations, acting out a book they are reading, and building their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Students would be encouraged to delve deeply into topics that interest them, regardless of what’s on the list of standards.

A Positive Culture

If school were more like camp, teachers would be trained to create a fun, warm, and inviting place as much as they are trained to teach math skills. They would learn how to find what is special and unique about each of their students and help their students feel valued and included.  Teachers would check in with each student, every day, asking how they’re doing and providing support if they are struggling. Kids would be excited to get to school, and teachers would greet each student with a smile and a high five, hug, handshake, or fist bump.

If school were more like camp, kids would be cheering for and supporting each other as they learn new skills. Kids would celebrate each other’s successes by making daily “WOW” announcements and leaving encouraging notes. For kids who are struggling in some area, supportive peers would provide guidance and encouragement. Kids would openly talk about their areas of strength and weakness and support each other in improving.

Core Subjects Plus “Free Choice” Learning and Pursuit of Passions

At camp, we require that kids participate in certain activities, even if they’re a little scared. We know that they benefit immensely from challenging themselves and building new skills. But we also allow kids to pursue activities that they are passionate about. What if school could be the same way? Kids would be required to learn specific skills, of course, just like they are now. But they would also have more free choice options to pursue things they’re passionate about. Aspiring writers could have their own blog. Future doctors could do extra science research and experiments. If we showed more respect for kids’ interests and desires and let them spend more time on things that they are passionate and excited about, school would be a much happier place for them.

. . . and some more characteristics of camps which should be common school practices – from 5 Ways School Should Be More Like Summer Camp

Intentional, Intense Community

Summer camps make a point of helping the community to bond quickly through playing games, hiking and camping together (a.k.a. meeting and coming through a challenge together), telling stories around a fire, sharing sleeping quarters, and creating rituals around daily tasks like eating.

Facing Fears and Pushing Comfort Zones

At summer camp, kids do things they are afraid of.  They go swimming in creeks with snakes, they sleep in cabins with creepy crawlies, they go on 3-day hikes and sleep in the woods with who knows what kinds of monsters, they scrape their knees, and they don’t have their parents around to rely on.  Now if that isn’t just a recipe for learning coping skills and how to handle the unexpected, I don’t know what is.

Outdoors and Interactive

We already know that sitting in a desk and being lectured at is not the best way to learn.  There are also studies showing that environmental education boosts creativity, social skills, and problems solving skills.  So it’s clear that education should be more hands-on and more out of doors.

Regular Communal Singing

Singing a beautiful or lively group song is different than singing along to the radio.  It can bring a group together and can infuse a relatively mundane task with humor and joy.  But it takes time and commitment to build up a community repertoire of songs.  We have to take the time to teach them and sing them regularly so that is an inclusive activity.  There is little quite so touching as a group of young people harmonizing around a camp fire, or singing a song of gratitude to the cooks, or merrily caroling as they walk to the next activity.

Mixed Age Groups and Mentoring

This is something that summer camps get really right and most schools get really wrong.  At summer camp, kids are constantly mingling across ages.  Teen-age counselors are leading the activities and what could be more hip than that to a 10-year old?  Here is this older, totally cool person, who isn’t nearly so old as their parents, who they can jump on, and look up to and learn games from.  They get to see this older person making jokes, having conversations, dealing with problems, singing songs, having fun and generally being a model of (more) mature, multi-dimensional life.  In schools we separate the teen-agers from the pre-teens and both suffer.  The teens lose out on that sense of responsibility and accountability; they don’t get that sense that their behavior might influence someone else.  And the young ones only have teachers and parents to look up to, who seem so distant and foreign, instead of learning from a variety of ages and outlooks.

. . . and some others based on my own experiences.

Arts Integration

Doing art with a fully stocked art room is a central activity at camp.  All kids are artists at camp with accessible art projects like scratch art, lanyards, leaf rubbings, tie dying.  Children smile with pride at their creations rather than saying things like “I can’t draw” or “I am not an artist.”

Informal drama and theater is also part of the camp experience with talent shows, charades, and paper bag dramatics.   There is innate joy to expressing oneself through drama and theater without the fear of being graded or judged harshly.

Games, Sports, Movement

Sitting around passively isn’t part of the camp experience.  If the camper isn’t playing a sport, s/he might be going for a swim.  Then s/he runs to the art room, and after that – maybe a quick game of tag.  Kids aren’t (or shouldn’t) be told not to run (as in run in the halls).

Learning from Multiple Sources with Ongoing, Informal Assessment

Multiple means and avenues are used to learn to swim, tie a knot, identify a leaf, make a lanyard, and/or sing a song,  A combination of direct instruction, peer modeling, peer feedback, and natural consequences work together to help insure that most campers learn these skills.  Evaluation and assessment are indirect and ongoing – again coming from multiple sources.

. . . and finally, if we are serious about student engagement, motivation, and retention, then student satisfaction with and enjoyment of school should be a primary goal.  From the New York Times article, Why Can’t School Be More Like Summer?

Summer camps are by design happy places, run by people who clearly have been selected for their genial and outgoing personalities as well as their willingness to be ridiculous and silly on short notice. Camps embrace what Robert Louis Stevenson called “the duty to be happy”  Happiness is embedded in the summer camp business plan, and is central to what they do. If children  aren’t happy; they won’t come back.  Schools could learn a lot about student retention and achievement by taking a page from the summer camp happiness playbook.This is especially true right now.  Yet in all the talk about education reform, happiness rarely seems to make the list, even though there’s plenty of evidence out there about what an improved school environment might mean for learning and test scores, not to mention student attitudes and drop-out rates.

The bottom line, which is the focus of many of my blog posts, is that there is a belief that schools need to be the way they are.  They do not.

 

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 31, 2014 at 9:38 pm

The Importance of Authenticity Inside and Outside the Classroom

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I teach graduate educational technology courses at Boise State University to mostly in-service teachers.  One of them is Integrating Technology Into the Classroom.  It as a course with a project-based learning framework.  Learners are given a series of course projects and asked to develop learning activities for their particular content areas and grade levels.  Examples include developing a video library and associated lesson for their content area; developing a lesson for their content area that uses social media, etc.

This morning I received the following communication from a co-instructor:

Jackie, I thought you would want to know this.  I teach 514.  I ask each student to reflect on a “best learning experience” and this semester I have a student in 514 who wrote the following:

My experience of EDTECH 541 stands out for me as the best experience I have had in learning. I say this for many reasons, and they start with how the structure of the course allowed such creative freedom along with the exploration and experimentation of new tools. With every assignment, I just remember thinking how fun it was, and how great it was that a school class could engage me so much.

Each assignment just seemed to get better. It also seemed like everything just flowed, and the work I was doing had some real impact. I was using the skills I practiced and learned the night before working on the project, the next day in my workplace. I even helped coworkers based on some of the things I learned in the class.

A major moment in this course was some validation of my work that I was not used to. A few of my assignments were used as examples, and some were even tweeted out, and retweeted! The fact that a professional in this field (the professor) and others thought my project had real value and took the time to share it thrilled me. That has been one of the best moments in my education, because for the first time I felt my work extended beyond the gradebook. I also felt like my work gave me some validation and confidence that I just might be able to put some things on a resume that might land me a sought after position someday.

I also remembering throughout the course how great it would be to do that kind of work for a living. It validated my choice and the months I spent trying to find a master’s degree I wanted to pursue. And it was a vast amount of time. I looked for nearly 4 months trying to find something, and just by chance I discovered this program. The EDTECH 541 experience I had was worth it.

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Of course, educators love getting feedback like this.  It is affirming, but more importantly are the rewards the learner received.  Note that the tone of this communication was not about me as the educator but her as a learner and student.  This is what excites me the most.  Messages gleamed from this feedback:

  • Learners need to be given authentic tasks which asks them to put their “selves” into the learning projects.
  • As noted in this communication, school should be fun and engaging.
  • Skills being acquired by learners should be relevant and usable in their lives outside of the classroom (regardless of age).
  • The educator should help learners establish authentic audiences where the learners can share their work to authentic audiences outside of the classroom, to audiences of their peers.  (Note: peers aren’t necessarily others of the same age.  They are those who share the same interests and passions, who have similar perspectives of the world.)
  • Social-emotional gains are important.  Learners gaining confidence in themselves and their abilities should be an intentional goal in all learning environments.
  • The bottom line, which I have stressed in the past, is that the educator should set up the conditions for learners to say, “I am a good and confident learner,” rather than “You are a good teacher.”

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 30, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Self-Regulation: The Other 21st Century Skills

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Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.  This post focuses on self-regulation.

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Self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

Self-regulation is a cyclical process. Students who are motivated to reach a certain goal will engage in self-regulatory activities they feel will help them achieve that goal. The self-regulation promotes learning, which leads to a perception of greater competence, which sustains motivation toward the goal and to future goals. (The Role of Motivation in Self-Regulated Learning)

Self-regulation is not only an essential part of healthy emotional development, it is also vital for academic success. Many studies, like the 2010 research conducted by the University of Virginia’s Claire Cameron Ponitz and Oregon State University’s Megan McClelland, show that children with high levels of self-regulation do better on tests when compared to children with low levels of self-regulation. Some researchers even see the inability to self-regulate as the root cause of the economic achievement gap. (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Some of the characteristics of self-regulation include:

  • Uses metacognitive processes
  • Self-monitors frequently and adequately
  • Regulates and controls emotional and cognitive processes.
  • Possesses unique and situational problem-solving abilities
  • Manages time for one’s own benefit
  • Self-motivates
  • Self-evaluates
  • Self-consequates

Self-Regulation

The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning
self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Helping Learners Develop Self-Regulation Skills

Educators can play a key role in assisting learners in building upon and expanding their self-regulation skills. Strategies include using metacognitive reflection questions both prior to and after learning tasks to assist students through a process of guided inquiry:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced? Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-regulated learning has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task? (The Secret of Self-Regulated Learning).

In order to effectively “teach” or demonstrate these questions, educators can practice and model using these questions him or herself.  S/he can verbalize these questions and responses while modeling a learning task.  In other words, the learners can benefit from observing the educator engage in this metacognitive process.

Educators can also directly teach learners the phases of self-regulation:

phase1

  1. Phase 1. Forethought/pre-action—This phase precedes the actual performance; sets the stage for action; maps out the tasks to minimize the unknown; sets realistic expectations and helps to develop a positive mindset
  2. Phase 2. Performance control—This phase involves processes during learning and the active attempt to utilize specific strategies to help the learner become more successful.
  3. Phase 3. Self-reflection—This phase involves reflection after the performance, a self-evaluation of outcomes compared to goals.

This material was taken from an excellent online self-regulation teaching module developed for-by the UConn Gifted Program – http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/selfregulation/section0.html

Building self-regulation skills is an ongoing process. Educators can use the 5 R’s to provide this continual support:

  • Regularity – Schedule time to practice daily
  • Repetition – Builds neural pathways that become habits
  • Reflection – Noticing sensations strengthens neural pathways
  • Research – Support kids in becoming prescriptive with which tools work best for them
  • Reach Out to Families – Share tools with parents/ care-givers to use at home (Supporting Self-Regulation in the Classroom)

Self-Regulation as a 21st Century Skill

Creativity and in-disciplined learning requires balancing the forces of order and chaos. Learning environments need to provide students a flexible structure within which students can experiment, collaborate, and problem solve. These are contexts that allow students to learn from both success and failure. Such open-ended environments, however, can be challenging to learners as well. They can appear chaotic and offer little guidance to students on how to navigate them. (Creativity, Self-Directed Learning and the Architecture of Technology Rich Environments)

Self-regulation has always been an important skill for learners to master, but changes in the learning landscape due to technological advances and open access to information have increased the necessity for this skill.

Learning Activities for Young People

Here are some activities for students to learn more about self-regulation:

 

Self-regulated learning also has meta-emotional and environmental dimensions, which involve asking oneself questions like these:

  • How motivated am I to do the learning task, and how can I increase my motivation if I need to?
  • If my confidence in my ability to learn this material sags, how can I increase it without becoming overconfident?
  • Am I resisting material that is challenging my preconceptions?
  • How am I reacting to my evaluation of my learning?
  • How can I create the best, most distraction-free physical environment for the task?

Metacognitive questions include these:

  • What is the best way to go about this task?
  • How well are my learning strategies working? What changes should I make, if any?
  • What am I still having trouble understanding?
  • What can I recall and what should I review?
  • How does this material relate to other things I’ve learned or experienced?

– See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf
More formally, self-regulated learning is the conscious planning, monitoring, evaluation, and ultimately control of one’s learning in order to maximize it. It’s an ordered process that experts and seasoned learners like us practice automatically. It means being mindful, intentional, reflective, introspective, self-aware, self-controlled, and self-disciplined about learning, and it leads to becoming self-directed. – See more at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/secret-self-regulated-learning/?ET=facultyfocus:e56:223522a:&st=email#sthash.zz2jDBUT.dpuf

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

August 24, 2014 at 3:08 pm

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