Would You Rather: Transfer and Apply – Dr. Catlin Tucker

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The first and second blogs in this series focused on providing meaningful choices when students are acquiring information and making meaning. In this third and final installment of our “Would You Rather?” series, we will explore how we can provide students with choices that enable them to transfer and apply their learning effectively. Understanding that not all students express or communicate their understanding in the same way is crucial. By offering meaningful choices, we can ensure that every student has the opportunity to successfully apply and communicate their learning, accommodating their unique strengths and preferences. How can we create a learning environment where each student feels confident applying the knowledge and skills they’re acquiring?

What is the goal of transferring and applying learning?

The goal of transferring and applying learning is multifaceted. This stage of the learning process encourages deeper thinking by moving beyond memorization, requiring students to engage in higher-order cognitive processes such as critical analysis and problem-solving. It provides teachers with invaluable formative assessment data, allowing them to informally assess student understanding and identify misconceptions, gaps, and areas that need additional instruction and support.

When students apply their learning, it helps them see the connections between what they are learning in the classroom and how it relates to the world beyond. This can positively impact their engagement and make learning feel more relevant to their lives. By offering meaningful choices when it comes to applying learning, educators can support personalized learning, ensuring that each student can demonstrate their understanding in a way that best suits their strengths and preferences.

Application activities also enhance retention and mastery of information, making it more likely that students will retain and effectively use what they have learned in the future. These activities can also be used to encourage collaboration and communication as students work with peers, which can result in the development of interpersonal skills. These skills will serve them long after they leave school.

Barriers to Effective Transfer and Application of Learning

Assigning the same task to all students without offering any choices can significantly hinder the effective transfer and application of learning. This approach often fails to recognize and accommodate the diverse ways students understand and express their knowledge. Without options tailored to their strengths and preferences, students may struggle to engage meaningfully with the material, leading to superficial learning rather than deep comprehension.

When students are required to complete identical tasks, they often miss the opportunity to apply their learning in ways that personally resonate with them. This one-size-fits-all model can stifle creativity and limit how students demonstrate their understanding.

A standardized task for the whole class also does not reflect real-world scenarios where problems often have multiple solutions and pathways. As a result, it fails to prepare students adequately for future challenges by not encouraging them to think critically and adaptively.

“Would You Rather” Options for Transfer and Application

Below are examples of “would you rather” options designed to remove barriers and help students transfer and apply their learning more effectively.

Option 1

Science: Design a new experiment to test a scientific hypothesis

Science: Write a research paper on an environmental issue

Math: Solve a set of problems and explain your solutions in a video tutorial

Math: Develop a math game that helps others learn about a mathematical concept or process

English: Write an essay analyzing the symbolism in a text discussing the importance of symbols

English: Write a character diary that explores the inner thoughts and experiences of a main character from a novel

History/Social Science: Produce and record a historical documentary on a significant event

History/Social Science: Write an argumentative essay on a historical debate

Art: Create a series of artworks that represent different themes from a unit you’ve studied

Art: Design a public art project that reflects a social issue of relevance for the student

Physical Education: Design a fitness program for a specific group (e.g., teenagers, seniors)

Physical Education: Write a report on the history or benefits of a particular sport

Option 2

Science: Create a detailed model explaining a complex scientific concept

Science: develop a presentation to persuade others to take action on the issue

Math: Solve a set of problems and write annotative notes in the margin explaining your process

Math: Design an infographic that visually explains a complex math concept or process

English: Develop and record a podcast series discussing the symbolism in a text

English: Create a social media profile for a literary character, complete with posts, images, and interactions with other characters

History/Social Science: Develop a museum exhibit with artifacts and descriptions for an event

History/Social Science: Participate in a role-play debate as a historical figure

Art: Curate or create a virtual gallery walk with commentary on various artists’ works for your peers

Art: Write and illustrate a children’s book based on an art movement

Physical Education: Create a series of videos demonstrating different exercises

Physical Education: Develop a training plan for someone interested in improving their performance in that sport

The examples above span several subject areas, offering inspiration for how we can think more creatively and flexibly about how students apply their learning. While it may not always be feasible to provide creative opportunities for every assignment, the goal is to integrate personally relevant and meaningful choices whenever possible. By doing so, we can help students see the value in their learning, enhance their engagement, and allow them to demonstrate their understanding in ways that resonate with their individual strengths and interests.

Using AI to Generate Meaningful Choices

AI chatbots, like ChatGPT and Copilot, can significantly reduce the time and cognitive load required to generate meaningful, construct-specific choices for students. This allows educators to focus more on facilitating learning and less on the time-consuming task of creating meaningful choices and differentiated options.

Step-by-Step Process:

  1. Identify the Learning Goal:
    • Start by clearly defining the learning goal or construct you want students to focus on. This could be a specific skill, concept, or knowledge area.
  2. Input Relevant Information:
    • Provide the AI chatbot with relevant details such as the subject area, grade level, and any specific requirements or preferences you have for the task.
  3. Ask for Construct-Specific Choices:
    • Use prompts to ask the AI chatbot to generate a list of options that align with the identified learning goal.
  4. Review and Customize:
    • Review and customize the chatbot’s suggestions to meet your classroom context and student needs.
  5. Implement and Assess:
    • Implement the chosen options in your teaching practice and assess their effectiveness in helping students apply and transfer their learning.

Below are some prompts teachers can use when working with an AI chatbot to generate meaningful choices in a lesson or learning experience.

  • Can you suggest engaging activities for my ___ grade ___ class focusing on ___?
  • What are some creative ways for students to apply their understanding of ___ in ___?
  • How can I create opportunities for my ___ grade students to demonstrate their knowledge of ___ through real-world applications?
  • Please provide some project-based learning ideas for ___ grade students to explore ___.
  • What are some differentiated options for students to show their learning about ___ in my ___ grade ___ class?
  • Can you generate activities that connect ___ with ___ for my ___ grade students?
  • What are some different methods for assessing my students’ understanding of ___ in ___ grade?
  • Can you suggest creative assignments for ___ grade students to express their learning about ___?
  • How can I facilitate collaborative projects for my ___ grade ___ class to explore ___?
  • What are some inquiry-based learning activities for ___ grade students to investigate ___?
  • Please provide some ideas for offering my ___ grade students choices in how they demonstrate their understanding of ___.
  • How can I integrate technology to enhance my ___ grade students’ learning about ___?
  • What activities can I use to help my ___ grade students understand the cultural/historical context of ___?
  • Can you suggest STEM-related projects for ___ grade students to apply their knowledge of ___?
  • What are some activities to help my ___ grade students develop their ___ skills while learning about ___?

Wrap Up

In this final installment of our three-part series, we explored how giving students meaningful choices can ensure they effectively transfer and apply their learning. Recognizing that students express and communicate their understanding in diverse ways, these options empower all students to showcase their learning confidently and meaningfully.

Providing students with choices to transfer and apply their learning encourages deeper thinking and enhances their ability to communicate their understanding effectively. These choices promote active engagement, critical thinking, and the ability to connect and apply concepts in various contexts. By offering diverse options, we foster creativity, problem-solving, and personalized learning experiences, ultimately building a foundation for lifelong learning and adaptability.

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