Thursday, April 20, 2017

Learning in the Fast Lane - Chapter 1

Learning in the Fast Lane
by Suzy Pepper Rollins, 2014

A literature review...


Key idea behind ideas in the book:

That high impact instructional approaches will effectively improve outcomes for all students including those who are struggling. Targeting only the "tail end lag" with remedial gap filling will not help accelerate learning.

Chapter 1: How can we help students with gaps from the past succeed today?


  • Prior knowledge frees up working memory (Hirsh, 2003)
  • New concepts need to be connected to existing schema
  • The misconception is that to learn new things, one must go back and "fill the gaps"
  • Going backwards decreases student motivation
  • Acceleration is about having success in the present by preparing the student for what is happening that week
  • Acceleration puts students in the "fast lane" as they already have the prior knowledge and the basic pre-requisite skills ready to learn the new content alongside their peers
  • Vocabulary is key - students need to know both the pre-requisite vocabulary and the new vocabulary as it will help to link with prior knowledge.
  • Student confidence and participation will increase when they are prepared for this new learning
  • Time needs to be set aside to work with the acceleration group
The framework for Acceleration

Step 1: Generate Thinking, Purpose, Relevance, and Curiosity
Hands on starter activities that get students wondering. Concrete before abstract. Real world examples and thinking. Success starters.

Step 2: Clearly articulate the learning goal and expectations
Explicit and student friendly. Helps define the purpose of the learning.

Step 3: Scaffold and Practice Essential Prerequisite Skills
"Students could master this if they just knew xyz". What are the high priority gaps? Create scaffolds for success.

Step 4: Introduce New Vocabulary and Review Prior Vocabulary
What does it mean? What does it look like? Need multiple representations. 

Step 5: Dip into the New Concept
Needs to be something that the rest of the class won't see - cannot repeat the learning experience. Idea is that the student can say during the class session "I know something about that!"