Foundations of Learning

Holy Trinity Episcopal School

Foundations of Learning

Learning can be challenging. However, when scientifically and developmentally proven methods are introduced and practiced, students are much more likely to find success in school and attain the skills necessary to be effective lifelong learners.

We call these our Foundations of Learning.

At Holy Trinity Episcopal School, our teachers expose students to a number of these learning strategies, often without the students even realizing it!

  • Creating Knowledge

    Creating knowledge is based on the concept of learning as a social function. Students are presented with a question or problem, provide a way to demonstrate understanding or a solution, share their ideas with others, and use the feedback received to inform their progress.

    The key element in creating knowledge is the social act of sharing with others. By sharing, the student not only tests his or her ideas but also elevates the collective understanding in the class. Thus, a higher level of awareness is achieved.

    Creating knowledge not only helps the individual learn but is beneficial to the whole class.

  • Elaboration

    Simply put, elaboration is asking students to "tell me more" about what they are learning. This strategy is useful in helping students make important connections between different topics or concepts. Asking the student to elaborate, forces the brain to examine a concept deeper which leads to a stronger learning imprint.

    In addition, students also often need to tap into their imagination to expand on what they think they know. Thus, elaboration can be a great way to encourage creativity and problem-solving.

  • Dual Coding

    Dual coding is best described as the combination of words and visual materials to help learning "stick." This exercise can aid learning by requiring the student to use two methods to represent an idea or concept. For example, after reading a passage a student can tell you what was read and draw a picture representing the story, create a diagram of the plot, or create an outline to act as a guide.

    Dual coding is a learning strategy and should not be confused with a specific learning style. Dual coding is not tailoring the class to a specific style (or preference). As a matter of fact, a great deal of research has shown that assessing your learning style and then matching your learning to a particular style does not improve learning. While a student may prefer one over the other, learning is accomplished best when a combination of visual and verbal materials is used.

  • Spacing

    Spacing is spreading out learning over time. It is, essentially, the opposite of cramming. By planning to learn over the course of several days, a student has a much better chance of remembering the material. Spacing is a great way to promote retention and long-term memory.

    Related to spacing is revisiting a concept at certain intervals over time. This "interleaving" of concepts makes spacing a natural occurrence and is an effective way for students to improve retention.

    One way to spot a teacher using spacing and/or interleaving in class is to listen for students to report they "already learned this."

  • Recall

    Recall is the act of intentionally bringing back to mind something a student has already done or learned. It is the act of trying to remember and then articulate what comes to mind. Examples of common recall strategies are tests, quizzes, asking children to tell you what they learned earlier, or having a student try to teach a topic to someone else.

    There are many creative ways to bring recall practice into the classroom and at home - many are often ungraded in order to minimize stress and focus on learning.

    Of all the Foundations of Learning, recall practice is among the most effective for students at any age.

  • Metacognition

    Metacognition is, essentially, thinking about our thinking. In practice, it involves reflecting on what you are learning and how well you are learning that topic.

    Students can use metacognitive practices by reviewing their work and checking for understanding. Once done, the student forms an opinion about what was done well and what still needs improvement. Teachers provide important feedback and guide students to evaluate their learning process. As a result, students begin to learn what is working and what isn't. From there, teachers can work with students to adjust the approach to learning and form better partnerships with families to improve learning outcomes.

    Metacognitive practices also give students a means to develop independence and self-awareness. Two important characteristics that will support learning success throughout life.