Learning Skills and Work Habits

Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board

Project Overview
Educators in this project investigated, through the process of collaborative inquiry, the following:

  • Intentionally connecting and embedding the learning skills and work habits to curriculum related tasks.
  • Applying the gradual release of responsibility model to support student development of the learning skills and work habits.

Their learning process included:

  • A two day tri-board session to begin the project, where the focus was developing a deeper understanding of the specific skills related to the learning skills and work habits.
  • Each school hosting one and a half days of professional learning that involved co-learning, co-planning, co-teaching, co-debriefing and co-reflecting to identify the next instructional move that would impact student achievement and engagement.

  • Collaboration amongst educators to develop differentiated plans that were implemented in each classroom to continue to move the learning of all teachers and students forward between sessions.  At each meeting teachers were able to share their learning, samples of student work and evidence of impact on classroom practice.

Conclusions from the Classroom
Descriptive feedback on learning skills and work habits, in the form of noticing and naming examples of students’ application of the learning skills and work habits increased student understanding and ability to make connections between learning and the learning skills and work habits needed to be successful.
The learning skills and work habits are not additional material to be covered; they are integral to daily learning that support students’ academic success.
The growth mindset was key to both students and educators as they participated in this inquiry.  Educators went into the classroom both during the inquiry learning sessions and as a part of regular practice with the belief that, if they made a change in their practice, it could have a positive impact on student achievement and engagement.
The focus on learning skills and work habits also fostered the belief in students that by applying teachers’ specific, actionable feedback they could improve their skills and academic success.
One of the contributing factors to the success of this team was the opportunity for educators to differentiate their focus by selecting one or more of the learning skills and work habits that were the most appropriate fit for curriculum expectations/areas that were central to the learning for the following weeks.  This allowed teachers to intentionally embed the teaching, modeling, practice and feedback related to LSWH seamlessly into the curricular learning.  The team noted the importance of not addressing LSWH as additional teaching, but as an integral part of all curriculum areas. As a result of the differentiated approach, participants were able to learn from each other’s experiences while developing a precise plan for moving the learning forward based on both the most urgent need of their students and the natural connections in the curriculum.  All participants reported progress and growth in their students.

Educator Learning and Impact to Practice PDF

Reflections about the LSWH   

“We are really trying to learn about these other skills – the learning ones!   We brainstormed collaboration the other day.  It was interesting to hear everyone’s ideas.” -Grade 7 student
I used to think… of learning skills and work habits as areas that I evaluated my students on that were separate from their academic subjects. Now I think…that LSWH need to be explicitly taught for my students to see how connected they are to achievement and success.”

“I used to think… that my students had an understanding of the LSWH that they could improve on somewhat independently as they matured. Now I think… that making expectations clear and transparent for my students allows them to understand what they need to do to achieve the expectations.”

Examples of LSWH in Action   

Impact on Student Achievement
  • Students are able through self-assessment, to reflect on and provide evidence of their development of their learning skills and work habits with considerable accuracy.

  • Students are able to apply the specific actionable feedback provided by educators in order to improve their learning skills and work habits on an ongoing basis.

  • Students are developing an understanding of the impact of learning skills and work habits on academic achievement.
Impact on Student Engagement
  • Students have a sense of ownership in the co-constructed “look-fors” of the learning skills and work habits.

  • Students are engaged in setting goals for next steps based on reflection and based on their growing understanding of the learning skills and work habits.

  • When students are reflecting after summative tasks they are able to identify how the learning skills and work habits impacted their success.
Collaborative Professional Learning   

  • The teachers from the host school outline the lesson and their strategies for embedding the LSWH.
  • Guided by the teacher, and based on the “unpacking” of the LSWH done with the class, the team develops a set of “look-fors” or success criteria to be the focus of the observation.
  • Classroom observation occurs by focusing on what students are saying and doing.  Video and photographs capture student work along with teacher observations.
  • The team reconvenes to discuss the evidence captured during the lesson related to the “look-fors” outlined.
  • The team reflects on the impact of the change in teaching practice as well as where students (individually and as a group) are in relation to the learning goals for the LSWH.
  • The team brainstorms next instructional steps to continue student learning as well as any additional learning required by the team to support improvement in instruction and assessment.

  • For more information about this project, please contact us at resources@edugains.ca