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8 Components ALL Learners Need to Be Successful

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At the heart of the Science of Reading, we look deeply at how we learn, not just how we read. For this reason, we advocate for the Science of Learning, not just the Science of Reading. 

Shifting our thinking from the Science of Reading to the Science of Learning provides an opportunity to be more inclusive of all subject areas. And because it is more inclusive of a term, it acts as an invitation to educators in other disciplines to look at best practices in literacy instruction and how those can be applied across all subject areas.    

There are specific teaching strategies that will support student learning across all subject areas. These “Science of Learning” strategies encompass a broader group of students that have all sorts of learning differences, not just the ones who may present as having dyslexia.  

These are the main points we feel are at the heart of the Science of Learning

Here are 8 key components all learners need in order to be successful:

1. Lessons that promote the Gradual Release of Responsibility

Gradual release of responsibility is a key component of reading instruction that you can also apply across all subject areas. It is such an important piece of setting students up for success whether you’re teaching math, social studies, science, or reading.

When you design lessons that promote the gradual release of responsibility, you set kids up for success. 

To learn more about the gradual release of responsibility, listen to 1.10 The Gradual Release of Responsibility

2. A systematic progression of skills that build upon one another and spiral back.

When we focus our shift to the science of learning, we need to honor the systematic progression of skills that build upon each other and spiral back. This is teaching that emphasizes well-developed, carefully planned lessons that are designed around small, clearly defined, increments of learning. 

Make sure that you are not hopping from one topic or skill to another. Keep it systematic.     

3. Opportunities for and an emphasis on review.

It’s important to weave in practice that is designed to build your children towards a level of mastery. We’re talking about a carefully designed progression where you can weave in bits of review that will help your students move the needle forward.    

4. Clear and specific language during instruction.

Precision in language is important. Be mindful of the language you use with your students and the way in which you are presenting the information. If you’re really clear with your instruction, you can eliminate misinterpretation, and that is going to help you improve and accelerate learning.

5. Breaking down the learning task into small manageable parts.

This supports the research done in cognitive load theory. This is supportive for all children, not just the challenged learner. 

Within this, we want to be providing appropriate scaffolds, guidance within the gradual release of responsibility, and immediate corrective feedback. This will build the knowledge and application of skills over time.  

For more on cognitive load theory, read A Little Guide for Teachers: Cognitive Load Theory by Greg Ashman

6. Learning activities that are engaging but also teach key concepts.

Think also about student engagement. Sometimes students are really engaged in the activity, but not as much in the actual learning. Be sure your learning activities are both engaging but also teach the key concepts.

 An activity can be fun, but still, miss the mark. Ask yourself, are you providing busyness without learning at the level that’s needed? Are students doing activities solely for busyness, where they can solve certain problems but not understand the concept behind it to apply it to new learning?  

7. Diverse small group instruction time.

Consider the way you design what is happening in your small group instruction. Of course, we know small group instruction is really important for all children to succeed. But, think about what is happening in your small groups. Are you using this as an opportunity for direct instruction? Or, are you using that time solely for review? 

8. Support and help with independence and self-regulation.

Realize, that we as educators know that there are different levels of knowledge and these levels of knowledge are going to move your children toward more independent learning and self-regulation. You’ve probably heard the term self-regulation a lot lately in discussions about executive function. 

This takes some time to learn, but it can help to increase progress and success. 

For even more on bringing handwriting into your literacy instruction, check out our latest episode of the Together in Literacy podcast. If you like what you hear, don’t forget to rate, leave a positive review, and subscribe!

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