Learn to Achieve
At Chase, we believe that every student can learn to achieve. Every week we focus on one learning tip to help students build up their own “learning toolbox” to become great independent learners.
We have gathered below highlights of some of the best advice to help both parents and students.
These are five specific behaviours we teach at Chase
- Be prepared, positive, proactive and ready to participate – this is saying that learning is something active. We need to be prepared with the right prior learning and the right resources; we need to approach learning with a positive mindset; we need to take proactive steps in trying to figure things out for ourselves and ask questions; we need to participate in discussions and in trying to answer questions.
- Extend and enrich yourself – all our students are actively encouraged to go well beyond the minimum curriculum and actively seek out new experiences, new skills, new knowledge and learning. Our enrichment programme offers about 60 different activities to choose from each week, and our extension programme offers special, exciting and intellectually stimulating activities regularly run by our academic faculties
- Communicate clearly – Communication is so important in life, so we can let others know about our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and dreams, our goals and ambitions. We insist on high standards of communication at Chase, and ensure that student’s spoken and written expression is clear, accurate, mature and powerful.
- Be considerate and kind – In a global economy, collaboration is essential, and as an international school we are experts on global collaboration! Collaboration is about developing the effective soft skills to listen and be sensitive to others, to lead and to co-operate, to respect other people’s ideas and feelings, so we can get along and work together really effectively
- Make the right choices – Good choices at school can make a huge contribution to the effectiveness and success of your life. This involves how you behave both in and out of the classroom and boarding house, choices you make about what to study at GCSE and A Level, and choices beyond school, about university and career. We support students in every step of their journey to adulthood and beyond to make mature and appropriate choices for their lives.
A “growth mindset” is one where a student takes responsibility for their own learning effectiveness. We believe that everyone can get better in any particular subject with enough resilience, collaboration and developmental feedback.
John Dunlosky is a professor who has studied the effectiveness of learning techniques. He shows how some widely used strategies – for example, re-reading – are actually not very effective at all for learning.
At the top end of the table, active learning strategies, like practice testing, elaboration and self-explanation, are shown to be very effective for learning.
“Spaced practice” means spacing out work on one topic over several sessions in a week, rather than “cramming” into one long session. The Learning Scientists (see the previous heading) also recommend the spaced practice.
High, medium or low effectiveness?
|Name of Learning Technique||Explanation of Technique|
|HIGH||Spaced Testing||Testing yourself or taking practice tests on the material to be learned.|
|Implementing a plan of practice that spreads activities out over time|
|HIGH||Elaboration||Generating a detailed explanation for why something is true|
|HIGH||Self-Explanation||Relating new information to known information or explaining steps taken when problem-solving|
|MEDIUM||Interleaving||Mixing different kinds of problems or material in one study session|
Writing summaries of text needing to be learned
Marking potentially important sections of text when reading
Using key words and mental imagery to associate verbal material
|LOW||Mental Image of Text|
Attempting to form mental images of text materials while reading or listening
Restudying text material after an initial reading
Our minds do not always produce ideas and lists in the best logical order. Mind maps are a way of harnessing the power of the way our brains work through associations, in a non-linear way, and are an excellent way of organising revision notes or of thinking creatively.
Tony Buzan has written many student-friendly books about mind maps, and he emphasises the importance of using images and colour.
Flashcards are a popular way for students of all abilities to learn and revise.
- Make flashcards yourself – the very act of making them helps you learn things
- Use pictures as well as words (this is called “Dual Coding” – see the Learning Scientists work above)
- Write only one question per card
- Break down complicated questions into multiple questions, and create a number of different flashcards, rather than one very complicated one!
- Say your answers out loud – it helps to remember them!
- Try learning the flashcards backward as well as forwards (i.e. can you go from the answer to the question as well as from the question to the answer?!)
- Remember flashcards are just one technique, and that using other techniques as well as flashcards will increase your learning powers even more!
Metacognition means thinking about how we learn and developing new ways to learn effectively. Some of the most effective ways of learning are listed below, and we should all continuously try new ways of studying and improving our mind’s capacity to understand and remember.
“A picture tells a thousand words”. Dual coding means combining words with pictures in learning activities. It is a simple but very effective way to improve memory and understanding.
“Retrieval” means the active habit of trying to remember something. It’s also known as “the test effect”. We are much more likely to remember something if we’ve practised remembering it, sometimes got it wrong and corrected our mistake, then tried to remember it again, and again, and again. This is why tests, assessments and exams are so important – they force us to actively remember.
Elaboration is a method of trying to explain something ourselves in as much detail as we can, making links to other things that we know. It involves asking ourselves questions and trying to think of reasons why.
This simply means that we learn better when we space out our learning rather than trying to cram it all in just before a test. Doing three sessions of 15 minutes of learning in a week means that material is much more likely to stay in your mind compared with doing a whole hour the evening before an assessment.
We all know the saying “practice makes perfect”. But you do need to know what you are practising, and you also need to know how to get better. That’s why we all need teachers for any skill we trying to improve. Their expert feedback can point things out that we would never see ourselves, and give us suggestions we would never have thought of ourselves. But unless we then put their feedback into practice – deliberately practising what they’ve told us to – then it is unlikely to make any difference.
A mnemonic is a way to remember something using a pattern, like a rhyme, for example (“Remember, remember, the fifth of November”), or other kinds of fun approaches.
By Tier 1 language, we mean the most simple kind of language. Tier 2 language is a more adult vocabulary, whilst Tier 3 involves understanding and using specialist, technical words. As you learn more, you should use Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary more and more.