SOMETHING TO REMEMBER
Dr. Wendy Ghiora
September 6, 2011 - Blog#138
"Hello Oliver. What did you learn in school today?" This is part of a greeting frequently given by a parent to their child, as the child walks in the front door after school. Some of the most common answers are: "Nothing," "I forgot," or "I can't remember."
Among the parents I know in our local school district, many of them were forced into homeschooling last year when Covid 19 made in-person learning at school unavailable. When the schools finally re-opened in May, many parents decided to finish the school year by homeschooling to the end of June, 2021. Now, with the mask mandates and possible vaccine mandates, many of these parents are continuing to homeschool again this year.
With that realization, I thought I should share an extremely valuable classroom technique that works just as well when homeschooling students. The most important outcome of teaching something is that the student duplicates, understands and can show or explain how the newly learned knowledge can be used. How do you as a homeschool teacher (or classroom teacher) know if this has occurred? Simple; you ask.
In the classroom, using the "reflection method," there are three steps to determine what was actually learned:
1. Divide the class into partnerships (two's).
2. Ask each partner in turn to share with the other partner what they learned in today's lesson that they didn't know before and to give an example of how they will use this new knowledge.
3. Get the class's attention and ask, "Who can share what you learned today that you didn't know before and how you can use this new knowledge?" The partner can share their own answer, or that of the partner's answer, to the entire class.
The repetition of similar answers helps the students to remember what was learned. However, having them discuss or write down what they have learned does wonders to engrave this new knowledge into their memory.
For the homeschool:
The homeschool teacher will see much improvement by using this same method. After a lesson, ask your student(s) to write down in their own words, what they learned that they didn't know before and how they can use this new knowledge. Then have them explain it to you verbally and either say or show you their example. After using this tool, the following day, the homeschool teacher will notice a significant improvement in student retention.
An additional benefit of this method is, when students are asked to reflect on what they learned that day, at the end of a lesson, the student's learning retention increases. Therefore, students will pay more attention to what they are learning, because they know they will be asked to reflect on this at the end of the lesson.
Next time the public school student walks in the door after school, when the parent asks, "What did you learn in school today?" If you are the teacher that used this method, you can be sure the student will describe your lesson to their parent. This is the best compliment a teacher can ask for!