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Students discuss learning to learn strategies

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Secondary students from Wellington College discuss the strategies - including peer feedback, real life examples, and exemplars - that help them learn how to learn.  

Professional learning conversations

These questions and suggested actions encourage you to reflect on your own school context.

Quality teachers use pedagogy that promotes learning orientations, student self-regulation, metacognitive strategies and thoughtful student discourse.

  • Quality teaching promotes learning orientations and student self-regulation.
  • Teaching promotes metacognitive strategy use (for example, mental strategies in numeracy) by all students.
  • Teaching scaffolds reciprocal or alternating tuakana teina roles in student group, or interactive work.
  • Teaching promotes sustained thoughtfulness (for example, through questioning approaches, wait-time, and the provision of opportunities for application and invention).
  • Teaching promotes critical thinking.
  • Teaching makes transparent to students the links between strategic effort and accomplishment.

Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES)

  • How do you know that you are successfully using these strategies?
  • In what ways could you assess whether students have mastered learning to learn skills?
  • What kinds of new skills or learning might you need to accomplish the list above?

Have you seen?

Building learning power
Professor Guy Claxton's Building Learning Power site provides information, resources, and inspiration for teachers – to help young people become better learners.


The strategies I use that help me to learn (on my own) is using sites like NZQA, or Wellington College MyColl page, and using things like exemplars. You can go onto NZQA, for example, and look at your certain subject, say English and you can sort of compare your work with other students that have done some essays. You can do this with your teacher or by yourself and you can see what they’ve done well or haven’t done so well - and you can sort of compare yours to their piece of work.

Well I usually look at a whole variety of exemplars and try to find some kind of structure in it. I just follow that structure throughout my work. If I’m in class and I’m with a friend and they have quite a good piece of work I compare mine to them as well. Yeah and just see where I’m at.

I do flashcards. That helps me to memorise certain characters because Chinese is sort of a topic where as a language you’ve got to memorise certain areas or certain words, structures, and sentences. Flashcards sort of developing a pattern in my mind is what enables me to memorise the easiest way.

I tutor at the maths clinic to the other students, obviously lower levels, who are finding it hard to do maths. I guess I get a lot of year nine, ten, and eleven students that I tutor. I guess it helps me reflect on my own learning in the fact that I really enjoy having someone else as a student giving a different perspective on the stuff that I’m learning. I find that when I have a peer helping me learn they can put it in terms which are a lot more understandable than a teacher, say.  The detachment between teacher and student is quite large sometimes. Whereas when you’re talking with a peer you can really engage in the subject matter.

Giving feedback to other students allows you to see what kind of criticism you’re looking for and what kind of things they’ll be judging you on as well. What kind of things you’ll need to improve on to reach those judgments. Other students may have different ways of understanding things so they could more easily explain it to you than the teacher because it’s more one on one - it’s more they know slightly more about you and how you might think.

Something that I use to help me (sort of my time management) is a year planner. I think a lot of kids can tend to procrastinate quite a lot and sort of avoid doing their work and I use the year planner. It’s a way of organising my time and to find when I can actually sit down and do some homework and when I’m not playing sport or doing other activities. Though it’s easy enough having the year planner it’s up to the student himself to actually, you know, self motivate himself and stick to this routine but that’s something that I find helps quite a lot.

I find relating real life issues to my learning really important because it gives me a grounding. As to what I can compare it with instead of it being a detached sort of concept that I don’t really have a grounded understanding of.

I think in terms that there has to be some kind of focus on learning beyond the textbook so instead of just teaching for an exam somehow bringing the material into the real world. I think it extends a little bit beyond the simple, you know, “when am I ever going to use this skill in the real world?” It’s more improving the learning by making it more relevant. Setting it in a context that makes it relevant to the student. So in, for instance, history mentioning how historical events have some kind of meaning or effect on something that's happening in the present. Or in economics relating the theory that you’re learning to actual happenings in the markets or something like that. 

Published on: 09 May 2013