Windows on Learning: Resources for Basic Skills Education

Intentional Learning in the Classroom: Case Studies

The most accomplished learners are intentional learners: they set goals for themselves, monitor their progress toward those goals, understand and seek out the conditions in which they learn best, and actively make connections and meaning. That said, the ability to be intentional in this way is not something that most of us are born with. How can faculty teaching basic skills students help them develop these abilities and habits of mind? The cases below illustrate a range of responses to this question, in both English and mathematics settings.

No Longer Lost in Translation: How Yu-Chung Helps Her Students Understand (and Love) Word Problems


When Yu-Chung Chang found her students struggling with word problems in intermediate algebra at Pasadena College, she developed the W.R.A.M.P.S method to help them succeed. W.R.A.M.P.S, which stands for Writing and Reading Activities for Math Problem-Solving, is partially based on Reading Apprenticeship methods.

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Asking Their Own Questions: ESL Students Take Charge of Their Reading

Working with a Text

Annie Agard uses Reading Apprenticeship methods to teach poetry to her beginning ESL students at Laney College. She guides her students through a series of steps as they unpack the poem "Elizabeth McKenzie." Because a poem has layers of meaning that only the individual reader must sense and interpret, it serves as an excellent starting place for exploring text in an independent way.

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Can Problem Solving Become a Habit of Mind?

Student Presentations: Making Learning Visible to Others

As part of his efforts to make problem solving a "Habit of Mind" among his intermediate Algebra students at Los Medanos College, Pat Wagener asks them to do presentations of their problem solving methods at the board. This form of peer review gives students extra practice at problem solving, and also provides frequent opportunities for them to be accountable "publicly" for their habits of mind.

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When Capable Students Fail: The Academic Sustainability Gap

Is There Anything Teachers Can Do?

Katie Hern of Chabot College shares seven ideas for closing the sustainability gap, including activities that foster intentional learning such as asking students to analyze and discuss the grades of past students who have fallen into the gap, and helping students track where they stand in the class at various points in the semester.

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Outlining Mathematics: Transforming Student Groaning into Student Learning

Student Responses

College of the Desert math instructors Laura Graff, Dustin Culhan, and Felix Marhuenda-Donate noticed that when they assigned students to outline their textbooks, the students' self-confidence around their ability to work independently and succeed rose dramatically. Here students share their thoughts on the benefits of outlining.

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Helping Students Read Difficult Text

The Strategies

David Reynolds explores eight Reading Apprenticeship-based strategies for working through difficult text with his students in a basic skills English course at West Hills College: early assessment, tour of the book, talking to the text, reading aloud, character logs, reading logs, syntax surgery and worksheets.

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This electronic portfolio was created using the KEEP Toolkit, developed at the
Knowledge Media Lab of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
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