The Ontario Curriculum requires teachers to develop learning skills in their students. The six learning skills outlined identify ideas students need to learn about as well as experiences they need to have in order for meaningful learning to take place.
These skills include:
Are students able to complete their work on time, follow through with commitments and requests and manage their behaviour and choices?
We all know those students that spend their class time coloring pictures or drawing, only to come to the end of the lesson and their work is not complete. This learning skill focusses on helping students create a plan so they are able to manage their time and use a variety of tools to complete their work and other tasks.
No matter how much or how well you explain an activity, someone will be asking what to do within seconds. This student needs more help with working independently. All students need guidance in how to use their class time wisely and follow instructions. In addition, we must show them how they can work hard in order to reach their goals.
Even though group work forms a large part of the learning experience, most kiddos don’t actually know how to collaborate. We must teach them how to work cooperatively in a group and accept a variety of roles. They need to know how to listen to others’ ideas and feel confident in sharing their own. Many students struggle with this as children are primarily egocentric. It is important to help them develop the skills needed for working in a group and respecting others’ thoughts and opinions.
Growth Mindset is a concept that needs to be developed in our kiddos as they mature in their thinking processes. Guiding them to think about their learning helps them take an interest and get involved in the process. It also encourages them to take risks and try new tasks with a good attitude as well as learn from their mistakes and challenges.
While competition amongst students can be positive, it can also be detrimental. Students must be taught how to set goals based on their strengths and weaknesses. Self-regulation also includes being able to use various problem solving strategies as well as the ability to ask for help as needed. The pressure of competing with others unrealistically is greatly reduced with these tools in their back pocket.
How I Develop Learning Skills in my Students
I created a Learning Skills, Growth Mindset and Student-Led Unit to help teachers guide their students towards mastery in each of the six areas outlined in the Ontario Curriculum.
The unit offers many interactive activities to review and develop learning skills. Make sure to facilitate a brainstorming session before beginning any of the activities in order to activate prior knowledge and gauge understanding.
Activities included in this unit are:
- Anchor charts: Review goals for each learning skill.
- Matching Game: Match the learning skill to the definition.
- Snip ‘n Sort: Sort behaviours into examples and non-examples for each learning skill.
- Self-reflection: Discuss goal setting for students. Teachers can reference when writing progress reports.
- Bracelets: Recognise good choices and share the news with families using these printable bracelets.
- Let’s Review Reflection: Use to remind students of how to make good choices regarding learning skills as needed.
- Brochure: Complete and share learning skills with parents or other important individuals.
- Craftivity: Learn “How to be a High Koala-ty worker” with this fun craft.
- Tracking and Assessment lists: Teachers can note assessments based on the anchor charts.
Develop Learning Skills with Growth Mindset
Developing Learning Skills goes hand-in-hand with Growth Mindset. I included a section on Growth Mindset in this unit to assist in guiding students to think about their learning.
“Your Fantastic Elastic Brain” is a wonderful book to teach children about their brain and learning. I like to encourage my kiddos to write down connections they make and anything that strikes them as interesting while listening to the read aloud.
Following the read aloud, is a group discussion where students can share their learning and connections using a cootie catcher and tree craftivity. Also included is an anchor chart which defines mindset and offers suggested ‘look-fors’ to help guide student thinking.
Develop Learning Skills with Student-Led Conferences
A teacher friend of mine was telling me about her school years. She attended a school where the majority of the students were boarders – some parents even lived overseas. She was reflecting on the parent-teacher conferences held at the school. As a result of many parents not being able to attend these meetings, the school opted for a student-teacher meeting. While students were required to attend, it was seen as a bonus if parents showed up. During the meeting, students would reflect on their learning and participate in the discussion on how to move forward.
A portion of the unit is dedicated to Student-Led Conferences where students take the lead in presenting their achievements to their parents. During this presentation, they identify their strengths and where improvement can take place.
I introduced the concept with the read aloud, “Thanks for the Feedback, I Think.” As I read, my students thought of why feedback is a good thing. They reflected on a reading response sheet.
I prepared my students for the conference by referring to the anchor charts which helped them select the work they would like to share at the conference. They explored what they were proud of and what they would like to improve on.
I also included a script and prompt cards to assist students in preparing for their conference. They could record their thoughts and findings. Lastly, I scheduled meetings with the parents using the contact forms found in the unit.
Implementing this unit allowed my students to become actively involved in their learning process. They learned to set goals, identify their own strengths and weaknesses as well as possible solutions. I hope it helps you guide your students in doing the same!
Check out my Learning Skills, Goal setting and Student-Led Conferences Unit here.