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Everyone is talking about learning loss recovery and stating that this will be the biggest challenge facing schools this year. We agree that this will be a challenge. But the biggest challenge will be for educators to determine where the students are lost and what needs recovering. We cannot assume that all skills must be taught as if the students never heard of them.
If students were never taught a specific skill last year, they will need initial instruction of this skills.
If students were taught a skill last year but didn’t have a chance to consistently engage with it, they will need more time to practice.
If students were taught a skill but didn’t have an opportunity to use it, they will need to apply that skill in authentic situations.
If students were taught a skill and showed mastery in one class, they will need to be taught to transfer these skills into other content areas.
Regardless of where our students fall in the learning process, our charge and commitment remain the same—to ensure our students are supported to recover the learning they lost. The good news is the decisions about what our children need to learn and what we can do to support our children’s learning are in our hands.
The Phases of the Learning Process
First, consider the learning process—those phases that any learner follows to acquire a new skill to mastery.
- Initial Instruction: the phase when learners first hear about a new skill and how to acquire it
- Practice: the phase when learners have multiple and various opportunities to practice the new skill with guidance and feedback
- Apply: the phase when learners have opportunities to authentically apply the new skill
- Transfer: the phase when learners understand how to transfer the skill into various situations
- Mastery: the phase when learners independently use the skill and can articulate how the skill was used in learning
Once learners have completed each of these phases, they can say, with evidence, that they have mastered the skill.
The Responsibilities for Teachers and Students in the Learning Process
At the beginning of the school year, all of these phases should be explained by the teacher. However, in order for the learning to be effective, the students will have to take charge of some of these phases themselves as they build ownership for their learning.
Students are better able to own their learning if they have a clear understanding of where they are in the learning process, or the Mastery Sequence. The Mastery Sequence is built upon the notion of conceptual redundancy of the skill or content being learned. The Mastery Sequence ensures that students have opportunities for repetition with the same concept in a variety of approaches. This includes opportunities to learn the skill initially, practice the skill, apply the skill, and then transfer the skill across time.
So, it is the responsibility of the teacher to use the data regarding learning loss to make the decisions around what skills to teach, what order to teach them in, which phases in the learning process to release responsibility to the students, and how to communicate these decisions to the students.
If kids know where they are in the learning process, they have more opportunities to master the skills they need to master.
How to Proactively Plan
Our task is to ensure that students understand the learning process, the purpose of each phase, and the value of looking at learning as a continuous cycle of growth. We must plan our units and lessons to support this understanding.
For each phase of the learning process teachers will need to ask themselves:
- What is the learning outcome of this phase?
- What will students need to show to demonstrate learning?
- What will be the role of the teacher?
- What will be the role of the student?
- Is this phase better completed in a face-to-face environment, in a virtual environment, or independently?
Purpose of Phase
Additional Planning Questions
|Initial Instruction||First introduction to a new skill||
|Practice||Opportunities to practice the new skill with guidance and feedback||
|Application||Authentic application of the skill||
|Transfer||Independent application of the skill to new situations||
|Mastery||Independent usage of the skill when needed and articulation of how the skill was used in learning||
The Advantages of Proactive Planning
Planning for learning loss recovery may feel daunting. But learning with this new challenge can provide both students and teachers with expanded opportunities. This could include freeing up time for teachers to work with students individually or providing additional opportunities for students to collaborate with classmates. The increased responsibility for students in the learning process will create independence and ownership of their learning.
But all of this requires thoughtful planning. Planning that ensures that our students will end up being the most independent generation of learners we have ever produced. Thus, as we plan this year, we must ensure that we do not produce the lost generation of children with too many gaps in their learning. We must ensure that we produce the most independent generation of learners we have ever seen in the United States.
The Learning Brief
In this article you learned…
- The benefits of proactive planning for any learning environment.
- The phases of the learning process.
- How to leverage the phases of the learning process when planning and teaching to empower students in their learning.
Can you imagine building an environment full of motivated, engaged, and eager students who own their learning?