Learning Skills and Work Habits

Renfrew County District School Board

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

How will embedding the Learning Skills and Work Habits (LSWH) into the daily practices of instruction and assessment assist students:

  1. In their understanding the importance of these skills to their learning?
  2. To gain an understanding of their strengths and next steps in the LSWH of focus?

Their learning process included collaborative planning, teaching, analysis and reflection.

Conclusions from the Classroom
Time was needed to work together to build capacity in our understanding of assessment for learning and as learning.  In addition, it was important, and will continue to be important, to develop a common understanding of the Learning Skills and Work Habits in order for teachers to continue to collaborate with students and colleagues about how to best support students’ development of each LSWH in the classroom on a regular basis.
In the project, teachers began by trying to embed the instruction of Learning Skills and Work Habits into their practice so that it would not be seen as an “add on”. They did this by embedding one LSWH that would best support the curriculum learning of the lesson. As this was the end goal for the project (embedded instruction of LSWH) they learned that it takes small steps to develop the ability to embed LSWH into instruction and the planning from the beginning of a unit and in daily lessons. They feel they have just “scratched the surface” in their learning of LSWH.

Reflections about the LSWH   

“Always remember to look at the big picture.  I did, and because of it, I’m going to college and making a name for myself.  Learning skills gave me a life, and for that I am forever grateful.”

“Personally, learning skills in this class played a big part for me.  It taught me to look at the big picture, how to work as a team, and overall how to really enjoy the class with others.”

“This class helps to improve teamwork, independent learning.  It helped me get ready for the real world.  I definitely improved a lot in this class.  I learned to work with minimal supervision.”

“Looking at the big picture is the most important part of having a good work ethic.  Being able to know the criteria and expectations helps a lot, in school and in the work place.”

“I used to think that learning skills were something to mark for report cards. Now I think they need to be taught, reflected on constantly and modelled.”

 “I used to think that learning skills were very easy to assess, now I think that it is much more complex (to define, unpack and assess as a single skill area)."

“One thing I learned is that our understanding of Learning Skills is not consistent.  As a staff, we need to collaborate to determine what each learning skills is and then students need the opportunity to do the same.”

“We have learned that kids don’t know what the Learning Skills mean. We need a common understanding and language, we need support from each other to hash out thinking and plans and there is still a lot of learning to be done.”

“I used to think that learning skills were straight forward and easy to understand.  I used to think this was the easiest part of the report card.  I learned that I knew very little about learning skills.  I had an idea in my head about what each was about, but I was misinformed.”

 “I used to think that learning skills were understood by the students, especially in the older grades.  Now I think we need to truly educate our students on what learning skills actually are.”

“I learned from engaging in this work that I need to have more discussion with my students and embed learning skills daily on my lesson plans.  I think more teachers need to be aware of how important learning skills are.”

“I used to think that the general knowledge about learning skills was good, but now I think that there is lots of confusion and much room for improvement.”

“This work has stimulated a lot of powerful thinking and dialogue that I hope has and will continue to impact my teaching and interactions with my students.”

Examples of LSWH in Action   

Grade Three Classroom Example: Self-Regulation
Learning in this classroom focussed on help seeking as one aspect of Self- Regulation.  To assist students in this skill, the teacher instructed them in the use of ‘traffic light cards’ when doing their math work.  The coloured cards allowed for:
    • Students to self-assess their own understanding,
    • Providing visual information to the teacher about who was in need of support
    • Collaboration between students to offer each other help
Grade 12 Classroom Example: Hospitality
Students were informed that they would need to use their LSWH to complete a successful meal and were asked to set a goal regarding their work for this task, which would be filmed and viewed later.  Students reflected on their learning by watching back the video of their team working together during the task.  As they watched the video, they reflected on their skills in each of the LSWH and recorded their reflections.

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