It is well known children struggle to transfer what they've learned to other situations. If you read Friday's entry, you know one thought is we teach clean neat math in class but real applications are a lot messier.

Students often have difficulty figuring out how their prior knowledge applies to the new situation. They have trouble recognizing cues such as if we looked at a pay as you go plan with a specific price for a certain amount of data. The equation might be $35 for the base + $5 per half gig of data added or 35 + 5x = the amount.

This is a simple linear equation but my students won't realize that because all the problems they've seen are only symbols rather than seeing a context. They don't know how to relate the general equation to the specifics. I will be the first to admit, I do not teach it the way I should. I've only recently started looking at specifics so I can change my teaching to help students learn cues.

According to something I read, it is important to use the "I do, we do, you do" type of teaching, also known as model, guided practice, independent practice. I know I should be doing this more but it always seems like I have to leave the classroom to help test students during one of those mandated tests we have to administer. You have to practice anything to master it.

It is also suggested, the instructor assess how students are doing on learning to transfer knowledge but do it without grading. This allows the teacher to determine what needs to be done next. One way to do this is to give them questions in an unfamiliar format with no cues on what it relates to. Review how they attempted the problem and analyze that to see what the next step is. Were they able to figure out the type of task? Did they choose the correct tool?

Finally, change the set-up so they see that prior learning appears in many different forms. Research indicates they need to see the change in setting, format, context, and language so students are more flexible in their thinking and accessing prior knowledge.

Tomorrow I'll finish off this topic. I'm spending three days on it because most curriculums do not spend enough time on building transfer so as a teacher, I think its important to learn what we can do to improve student transference.

Let me know what you think.