Learning–real, informal, authentic, and lifelong learning–can ‘begin’ with just well-nigh anything.
In that way, this is obviously not an exhaustive list. Nor am I implying that these are ‘the best’ starting points or that they would be in every specimen constructive in your classroom. There are simply too many variables.
What I hope to succeed with this post is to help you uncork to think well-nigh what ’causes’ learning–and increasingly specifically, where and how that happens.
What Causes Learning?
In the real world, learning never stops but it’s not unchangingly well-spoken that it’s happening.
Or at least we think of it differently than we think of classroom learning. Consider an observation or event–a young child watching older children play a sport, for example. This modeling of a physical policies by the older children serves as both motivation (the why) and information (the how) to promote learning in the younger child.
Similarly, anything from an ‘event’ (touching a hot stove) to a conversation to reflecting on something that recently happened can act as a ‘starting point’ for learning. Metaphorically and literally, failure is a wonderful starting point for learning framed properly in the mind of the person ‘failing.’
At a granular lesson and worriedness level, the starting point is usually an wonk standard that is used to form a lesson objective sometimes tabbed a learning target or goal. Collectively, these terms all function as intended learning outcomes.
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In the whilom teacher-driven, ‘top down’ tideway there is still significant flexibility. Such an tideway can still be student-centered, differentiated, open-ended, and driven (in part) by student inquiry. That said, ‘bottom up’ learning approaches like self-directed learning, inquiry-based learning, personalized learning, and (done well), project-based learning all offer new opportunities–new ‘starting points’ for the learning process itself.
And with new starting points come new roles for all the ‘parts’ of the learning process including teachers, students, questions, assessment, learning feedback, purpose and audience, grading, standards for quality, and more. For example, learning often ‘starts’ with an worriedness created by a teacher based on a learning standard (itself embedded in an intentional sequence). In the beginning, the role of the student is passive as they receive direction and try to make sense of the given task or activity.
Depending on the diamond of the lesson, they then may or may not wilt increasingly zippy and engaged in the learning process but plane if this occurs, they are often ‘engaged’ in completing the task or worriedness ‘well’–that is, they, in the best-case scenario, and trying to do a ‘good job’ equal to the quality terms and criteria offered by the work (usually created by the teacher).
If instead, the learning process started with an pure problem that the student earnestly wanted to solve but lacked the knowledge or skills to do so, it’s immediately well-spoken how everything changes from the roles of the teacher and student to worriedness design, knowledge demands, procedural sequence, and more. Note, not all of the alternatives to traditional lesson planning unelevated are feasible in every classroom or for every ‘lesson’ or ‘unit.’ The hope is to provide you with a few ideas to uncork thinking on your own well-nigh how you plan lessons and units and how the diamond embedded into them matters–how much plane a simple starting point can stupefy everything.
Also, the potential really opens up when you consider the form of how you are planning in wing to the starting point of the learning process itself. For example, any of the starting points unelevated can be used in a traditional lesson planning model. It’s not necessary to use inquiry-driven learning in a project-based learning model to promote personalized learning in an open-ended, student-centered model. The ‘with a question’ starting point, for example, can be used in a brainstorming session at the whence of a lesson that helps students frame their understanding of a concept–immigration factors, economic models, understanding cognitive biases, and so on.
Note, just considering learning begins with a person or place or question doesn’t midpoint that it can’t be used to promote mastery of wonk content in the same way project-based learning can lead to improved wonk outcomes (rather than just ‘cool projects’).
1. With a person
This can be a student–a personal need of theirs, for example. Something from home or the classroom. It could be an wonk need as well–a knowledge or skill deficit or the opportunity to modernize on an existing souvenir or talent. But learning that starts with a person doesn’t have to be the student at all. It could be their friends or families. It could moreover be a historical figure, a person of interest today, etc.
Learning that starts with a person–a specific person with specific knowledge demands and emotions and needs and opportunities–is inherently human, student-centered, and authentic.
2. With a place
Everywhere is a place.
And by place, I don’t midpoint a big municipality or famous landmark. The places I midpoint are smaller–less well-nigh geography or topography and increasingly well-nigh meaning and scale. It could be a creek with litter that needs cleaning or a garden stuff planned and planted.
Or it could be increasingly of a metaphorical place–still a physical location but one whose meaning depends on an wits or event–a place where a husband and wife met or where a victual took its first steps. Or it could be larger–a family home or polity with unique needs, opportunities, affections, stories, legacies, and past, present, and future.
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3. With a question
These can be wonk or authentic, knowledge-based or wisdom-based (as age-appropriate), likely open-ended by sealed can be constructive at times (see Types Of Questions For Critical Thinking), teacher-created or student-created, important or trivial, etc.
4. With a circumstance (historical, current, future possibility, etc.)
Any real or fictional circumstance or scenario can provide an pure starting point for learning. Examples? Climate change, population growth, the dissemination of propaganda, and war are all possibilities. This doesn’t have to be ‘negative,’ either. A circumstance could simply be a family with a new victual or a student who just received their driver’s license and thus have new knowledge and skill needs.
5. With a family or polity need
This one overlaps quite a bit with person and place but gives you the opportunity to really emphasize family and/or community–to wilt increasingly granular in your brainstorming and lesson planning by considering the unique nature of specific families and communities and how learning can support them and how they can support and nurture learning in a child.
6. With a research study (its citations, conclusions, premises, methodology, etc.)
Research is a wonderful starting point for learning if for no other reason than, as a product or soul of knowledge, it was initiated by a need to know or understand. A reason to study something in a formal way with formal methodologies and unique premises and conclusions.
7. With a problem
This is the idea overdue challenge-based learning which often manifests as a form of project-based learning.
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8. With a model
Any thing can function as a model. A book, a building, a river, a person, a movie, a game, an idea or concept–these all are things with characteristics that be studied and learned from–‘stolen from’ in the sense that you can take ideas, lessons, characteristics, etc., from here and wield them there. I wrote a bit increasingly well-nigh this in The Definition Of Combination Learning.
To be clear, I don’t midpoint anything tropical to plagiarism. In the same way that so many modern hero stories borrow–wittingly or not–from Homer’s Oddysey or the Epic Of Gilgamesh, a towers or rural landscape can be studied and used as inspiration to understand, know, and do.
Birds were studied for their method of flight and eventually, airplanes were invented. There have been many bad video games that had one interesting facet–a weft or gameplay mechanic, for example, and often these ‘wins’ were carried over as lessons and used ‘better’ in future video games. The idea of pixels inspired Minecraft and so many Minecraft-like games.
Concepts like the water trundling or supplies uniting or our system for unprepossessing nomenclature has within it ideas that are obviously constructive and so make wonderful starting points for learning.
9. With technology
This one is similar to number 8 but is increasingly focused on specific technologies–solar panels or computer microchips or iPads or power plants can be used as models for study. In that way, students are learning from the genius in each.
10. With previous work, projects, writing, ideas, etc.
A student can revisit past projects, writing, activities, etc., and use them–whether they were poor or sterling–as opportunities to learn. Reboot, revisit, refine, revise, and improve.
11. With a specific skill or knowledge deficit
If a student has a specific skill or knowledge deficit–something that they need to know or be worldly-wise to do–this makes for a very obvious and practical starting point for the learning process and is one of the most wontedly used in education. It’s moreover a impetus for much informal learning. If a child wants to be worldly-wise to ride a velocipede or hit a baseball, these each uncork with deficits of skill and are overcome through the megacosm of new knowledge (knowledge acquisition) and practice (skill acquisition).
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12. With a specific skill or knowledge strength or talent
Like number 11, the learning process here begins with a specific student but instead of correct deficits, a strength, talent, or ‘gift’ is used. This might/often will result in the resurgence of that strength but it may moreover require the using or transfer of that strength. This could be a student who can sing using that souvenir to create art/music, serve a polity (e.g., sing to the elderly in a nursing home), or make new friends.
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