Using Learning Preferences to Engage Students

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1 Using Learning Preferences to Engage Students Procedure Procedures 1 Write the following questions on the board: -What do you do to learn new vocabulary words? -What do you do to learn new grammar? -What study techniques work/don t work for you? Options Students discuss the above questions in small groups. After a few minutes, students report their answers to the class. Write their answers on the board. 2 Ask the students: -if they have ever heard of learning styles or learning preferences -what they think learning styles/preferences are (This is completely oral nothing goes on the board) Small class: Discuss as a whole class. Large class: Keep students in their groups to discuss and have them report back to the class. 3 Explain to the class that people have different learning preferences, or different ways that they prefer to learn or study. Tell them that we will be talking about three learning preferences today. 4 Tell students that they will be listening to a quiz to determine their learning preference or style. The instructions are explained on the WAV file. (Students will be asked a question than told to choose one of three options. They should write down the letter of the option that best describes them.) Make sure students have paper and pencils and are ready to write down their answers. Play the 3 WAV files. Lower level: Give the students instructions for the quiz before playing the WAV file. Listen to and respond to the first question together. Higher level: Students will just listen to the instructions on the WAV file Play the files again if necessary. 5 Have the students add up the letters they wrote. They should know how many a s they wrote, how many b s, and how many c s. 6 Tell the students that they will now hear what their results mean. Ss just listen to the results. (The results are for kinesthetic/physical, auditory, or visual learners.) Play results. Lower level: Explain to the students that there are three different learning preferences: visual, auditory, and physical. Explain to them that they need to listen to the results to find out what their learning preference is.

2 7 Explain to the students that they will hear the results again. This time, they need to take notes about the learning and study strategies given for their learning preference (they do not need to write notes for other learning styles). Play results. 8 Put students into groups based on their learning preference: visual, auditory, or physical. If a student does not have a dominant style, that student can choose which group s/he wants to join. Large class: To keep groups from being too large, it might be necessary to divide some of the groups into smaller groups. Option: Give students a couple of minutes to agree/disagree with the results of their assessment. Depending on the class dynamic, consider allowing students to switch to a group that they feel better reflects their preference. 9 Students compare the notes they took about the strategies for their learning preference. If necessary, play the recording again so that students can check their responses. 10 In their groups, students discuss the following for their particular learning preference: -Have they heard of any of these strategies before? -Have they used any of these strategies before? -Which strategies do they think would work the best for them? Why? -Which do they think would not work for them? Why not? 11 In their groups, students brainstorm other possible strategies (based on their learning preference) that they could use to learn or study information. Lower level: Draw a table on the board with three columns: visual, auditory, physical. Have markers/chalk available to students so they can put their ideas on the board. Students can walk up to the board and write their ideas as they think of them. Go over the board as a class. Students can suggest strategies for any of the columns. 12 Bring out the miscellaneous supplies and place them on a table in the classroom. Explain to the students that they are responsible for learning a list of 10 new vocabulary words. In their groups, they need to design a technique/game/activity/strategy based on their learning preference that will help them learn these new words. They can use any of the materials on the table. The more creative, the better. The number of words on the list can be adjusted up or down depending on the level of the students and how much time is available. Walk around the classroom and gently guide the students. Talk about your own learning preference(s) and how you have used it to learn a language.

3 *As part of this activity, students should be working with the vocabulary words.* 13 At the end of the class, students present what they did to the rest of the class. If there is time, students can try an activity/strategy from another group. If there is time, students can talk about which activities/strategies they preferred and why. 14 End of class discussion/quick review: -What did we do? -What did you learn? -How did it help you? -What will you do with your new knowledge? 15 Give the students a copy of the learning preferences quiz to take home with them. Homework (optional): Students try a different learning strategy for their learning preference at home (it can be with the same list of vocabulary words or with different information). They write a short paragraph that answers the following questions: -What strategy did you try? -Did it work? -Which strategy did you prefer: the one you designed in class or the one you tried at home? -Why? -Will you use learning strategies like this in the future? -Why or why not? Option: Rather than writing a paragraph, students could discuss the questions in small groups at the beginning of the next class. Assessment Formative assessment: Monitor students ability to complete class activities (Are they responding to the quiz by writing letters? Have they joined the correct group?) Monitor student responses to discussion questions (Do their responses demonstrate that they understand?) Monitor students ability to design an appropriate activity/strategy (Does their activity match the learning style?) Monitor students ability to connect what they ve learned with how they study/work with new information (Have students gained any new insights/had aha moments?) Summative Assessment: (Optional) Collect paragraph written for homework. Extension or Follow up This lesson plan is loosely based on Fleming s VERK model. One option is to do a related lesson with a different learning preference model (e.g., Kolb s Experiential Learning Theory and related Learning Styles Model; Gardner s Theory of Multiple Intelligences; Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator) This lesson could also be part of and overall plan to teach cognitive and metacognitive strategies such as: study techniques (in both content classes and ESL classes); organizing information for learning and remembering; deciding which learning strategy to use; evaluating learning; etc. These learning strategies could also be used as part of short classroom warm-ups and closers.

4 References Anderson, N. J. (2002). The role of metacognition in second language teaching and learning. CAL: Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved from Bandura, A. (1993). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist, 28(2), Blaz, D. (1999). Foreign language teacher s guide to active learning. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education, Inc. Bonwell, C., &Eison, J. (1991). Active learning: Creating excitement in the classroom. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED Brown, H. D. (2006). Principles of language teaching and learning. White Plains, NY: Pearson ESL. Felder, R., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), Harmer, J. (2007). The practice of English language teaching. White Plains, NY: Pearson Longman ELT. Nunan, D. (1999). Second language teaching and learning. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers. O'Malley, J.M. & Chamot, A.U. (1990), Learning Strategies in Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge University Press. Oxford, R. (1989). The role of styles and strategies in second language learning. ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED Oxford, R. (1994). Language learning strategies: An update. CAL: Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved from Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rahrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), Reid, J. (1987). The learning style preferences of ESL students. TESOL Quarterly, 21(1), ). Willingham, D. (2005). Ask the cognitive scientist: Do visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners need visual, auditory, and kinesthetic instruction? American Educator, summer Useful links Index of Learning Styles: A learning style model developed by Richard M. Felder and Linda K. Silverman. The assessment tool categorizes students as active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, and sequential/global. Learning Styles Quiz: 9 questions to determine learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). VARK Learning Styles: A learning style model that classifies learners as visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or reading/writing. This site has a questionnaire that can be used for free by educators.

5 Businessballs.com: A business-oriented site that has information about Kolb s Learning Styles Model and Gardner s Multiple Intelligences. Kolb Learning Style Inventory: Background and Questionnaire using Kolb s Learning Styles Model. Tapping into Multiple Intelligences: Information about Gardner s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

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