Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn

Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn

Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn

Getting to "Got It!": Helping Struggling Students Learn How to Learn

Synopsis

It's one of the great mysteries of teaching: Why do some students ?get it? and some students don't? In this book, Betty K. Garner focuses on why students struggle and what teachers can do to help them become self-directed learners. Difficulty reading, remembering, paying attention, or following directions are not the reasons students fail but symptoms of the true problem: underdeveloped cognitive structures'the mental processes necessary to connect new information with prior knowledge; organize information into patterns and relationships; formulate rules that make information processing automatic, fast, and predictable; and abstract generalizable principles that allow them to transfer and apply learning.

Excerpt

All teachers have seen that blank look. It's the look students give when they don't understand. We see it even after we have explained something a dozen different ways. We lose patience and ask, Why don't they get it? It seems perfectly clear! And when an aspect of a lesson doesn't make sense, too often the confusion and frustration students feel lead to inappropriate behaviors, and teachers get caught up trying to control or manage behaviors instead of looking at the deeper reasons why students don't understand.

While teaching art in a K–8 public school, I saw many creative, intelligent students who disliked school and became “mental dropouts.” They didn't “get it,” decided that they never would, and either resigned themselves to a kind of passive endurance or engaged in disruptive behaviors that drove their classroom teachers crazy and inhibited their classmates' learning. I began researching how these students could use their creativity to learn.

In my search for answers, I studied Reuven Feuerstein's (1979, 1980) work on the assessment of cognitive structures and his approach to mediated learning. In the years that followed, many other theorists and researchers—including Jean Piaget . . .

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