Mastery for Monsters

“In kindergarten, our kids need a variety of practice with learning math skills. It may take multiple months for kids to become secure in their understanding of counting and cardinality. By using seasonal resources we can keep the lessons exciting and engaging. Although the skills remain the same, by using seasonal themes the lessons feel different. ” Della Larsen.

When a child is at standard a teacher’s work is done. Correct?

Nope.

The work is done when a student is proficient, you know, able to respond correctly, quickly and without hesitation. At that point, the concept has been so deeply ingrained that only a wee bit of brainpower is needed to retrieve the knowledge. That means more oomph to learn new things!

Proficiency training is for everyone. Seniors maintain or build connections. Career changers revive atrophied proficiencies or develop them for the first time. Middle school and high school students remove barriers to tackling advanced materials. Upper elementary students solidify math facts and word attack skills. Primary students need to learn, learn, learn!

Proficiency for the Win

Proficient learners have several advantages over non-proficient learners.

  1. Higher endurance.
  2. Less easily distracted.
  3. More brainpower to apply to new tasks.
  4. Improved retention.

These advantages are particularly apparent when students tackle tasks for which the proficient skill or knowledge is a component.

What are some examples of proficiency?

  • The ability to read aloud without conscious attention to adding expression.
  • The ability to recall and apply a math fact when performing advanced operations without hesitation.
  • The ability to drive from home to school without having to think about each turn and stop.

Overtraining without Injury

How do you get to proficiency? Overtraining.

What is the downside of overtraining? Boredom.

Sustained, ongoing practice of materials can get dull. Learners need to practice a skill when it is taught, and at regular intervals. Research shows that materials must be studied for three to four years to get 50 years of retention. Otherwise, the skill is lost within three to four years. Yipes!

Variation for the Win

Offering the same lesson in novel variations, ranging from theme to answer types, builds proficiency without turning students away from learning. With Boom Cards decks, you can find resources ranging in skill level from simple single answer multiple choice, to drag and drop, to multiple response, to fill in, allowing you to gradually increase the challenge and vary the presentation.

At this time of year, there are an abundance of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and fall-themed Boom Cards resources available. “My students always get so excited when October comes in anticipation of Halloween!  I like to direct that enthusiasm by creating Halloween themed activities for them,” says Boom Cards author and teacher Linda Post.

Sheila Cantonwine finds that students can be excited and distracted during the holiday season. She uses themed resources to keep them on track academically while spiraling math topics and providing more practice where needed. With Boom Learning’s reporting tools, teachers can see if the students are gaining proficiency.

Read about resources for K-Middle School in our newsletter or shop our store for current seasonal items.

 

 

 

 

References

Kathleen M. Doughterty and James M. Johnston, Overlearning, Fluency, and Automaticity, The Behavior Analyst, 1996, 19, 289-292.

Daniel T. Willingham, Practice Makes Perefect-but Only If You Practice Beyond the Point of Perfection, Ask the Cognitive Scientist, American Federation of Teachers, Spring 2004.

 

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