Thursday, November 13, 2008

Learning, Chunking, Reflecting

"All learning begins with a connection" claimed George Siemens during the Mid Course Review video. In my 7th grade Study Skills we have been talking about connections found in Question-Answer Relationships. So far we have talked about two QARs: Right There QARs, where one can find the answer right in the book and On My Own QARs, where one must make connections.
We talked about text to self connections, which are connections to personal experiences; text to text connections, or connections to other texts/media; and text to world connections, or world events, global issues, or big ideas.
We also talked about chunking or connecting new learnings to prior information. We used an excellent video by Angela Maiers on chunking. Then we wrote about it on our blogs and practiced chunking.
I hope these middle schoolers are seeing that learning does indeed begin with connections.

Howard Rheingold gave a presentation in Elluminate as part of the Connectivism course taught by gsiemens and sdownes.He noted that university students don't reflect, they regurgitate. I see the same in 7th graders. I don't test at the knowledge level, I demand creation of artifacts. Many kids struggle initially with these differing expectations but I find that by Thanksgiving everyone is on board. But do I ask learners to reflect, to connect coursework with other learnings, to ask questions while reading, to mull thoughts over in their minds for awhile?
This idea of reflection seems to be an important thinking skill. How do I encourage it in middle school?

Siemens, G. (2008, October 22). Mid Course Review. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Website:
Photo courtesy of Pear Biter taken on May 6, 2006 covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 2.0 license and available at

1 comment:

Angela Maiers said...

I love that quote-all learning does begin with a connection, and to take it a step farther-learning is lost without them.

That's what our conversations with students have to be about-helping them know what it takes to make those powerful connections for themselves.

Thank you so much for sharing this work with your students and with your readers. Both are so lucky to have you!