Friday, June 12, 2009

Learning to Learn

I spent two days this week at a Cornerstone Literacy conference for my local school district. I loaded up all my books and handouts and catalogs and set them up for principals and literacy coaches and teachers to peruse. It was a good time for making connections. And making connections is exactly what Cornerstone Literacy is all about.

They let me attend the sessions which focused on the literacy model. I was impressed with the program, which all the elementary schools in our district will embrace over the next few years.

The focus is to teach kids how to comprehend, to give them tools they can recognize for decoding meaning, to teach them how to think about what they're thinking. Metacognition is the big word for it, and they teach the kids in kindergarten that big word!

As a homeschool parent, one of the things I disliked about the public schoolroom, and the private school we were for involved with for a short time, was the amount of time wasted doing worksheets and other busy work that really didn't increase learning. This model looks so much like what we did in homeschooling. Although we didn't have the vocabulary to describe what we were doing, we tried to help our kids learn to think, not just regurgitate facts. That's what this model does. A teacher models what she's teaching, showing the kids how she thinks about this concept. She connects it with her own prior learning, called schema. Then she leads the kids in activities that allow them to do the same thing. They're connecting the text they read to their own experience and prior learning. They're reading with partners and discussing the concepts in face to face conversations. They are exploring the concepts with drawings and writing. They are comprehending as science, social studies and math are woven into the literacy framework.

I'm excited to see this happening here. I look forward to seeing the results. It's a huge change for teachers to embrace., but children in those classrooms are extremely blessed for it. These kids are learning how to learn. And we all know that's invaluable.

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