Hoping to “Make it Stick”

I’m joining the Blog August group. I’m not sure I can keep up the pace, but here it goes.

I’m readingĀ Make it Stick by Brown, Roediger and McDaniel as a part of a twitter book study. Except, I haven’t joined in on the twitter chat yet. I learned about the group while visiting an amusement park with my teenage sons and their friends. I quickly read a complimentary chapter while waiting for the teens to finish their day at the park. I wasn’t able to join the chat, but I still have some initial take aways.

My first reaction was this is something I can really use in my classes and at home. In fact, my new learning from this book may shake me out of some old patterns.

Okay, here are some of my take aways:

  1. Memorizing some things is critical.
  2. Learning is work.
  3. The harder the work to learn something , the easier it is to retain.
  4. Retrieval practice (self-quizzes) is a better strategy for knowledge retention than re-reading text selections or notes.
  5. Fluency with text or notes tricks us into thinking we are learning and retaining.
  6. Trying to solve a problem before teacher instruction is better for learning.

After my first skim reading of chapter one at the amusement park, I took issue with take away number six. My thought was that I would have experienced too much anxiety as a learner to gain anything from this strategy. I have this notion that I needed to know how to solve math problems before I can find meaning in the mathematics. I believed I needed to be certain I could do them and “get a good grade” first before I was comfortable to learn the context of the mathematics. I realize that is opposite of what we consider good pedagogy. I’m having trouble even writing these backwards ideas for my own learning. But, it gets worse…

More tomorrow on my epiphany.