Borich Chapter 10 (Reading Reflection #8, due 8/9)

NOTE:  basically an outline of chapter 10, all content from Borich is verbatim (in black not bold) unless in this font/color.

Framing questions

  1. How can I get my learners to unleash their imaginative and intuitive capacities through self-directed learning.  Find out what their interests are and build project-based learning around those.
  2. How do I get learners to accept responsibility for their own learning?  Find out what they are interested in and they will dig deep and go far.  Interests are key.
  3. How can I teach my learners to go beyond the content given—to think critically, reason, and problem solve?  Find out what they are interested in and then find someone who is an expert in that field, the modeling that person will do for them will pull them through these tough things.
  4. How can I engage my learners in project-based learning?  You need to change the whole structure of your classroom and school.  To do this effectively it has to be across the curriculum.  You can’t dabble in PBL.
  5. How can I promote the goals of self-directed learning using differentiated instruction?  That’s a little bit of an oxymoron.  Self-directed learning by definition is driven by a student’s passion and interests, they don’t need instruction they need mentoring and guidance.

Self-Directed Learning:  is an approach to both teaching and learning that actively engages students in the learning process to acquire higher-order skills.

  1. Provide information about when and how to use mental strategies for learning.
  2. Explicitly illustrate how to use these strategies to think through solutions to real-world problems.
  3. Encourage your learners to become actively involved in subject matter by going beyond the information given—to restructure it based on their own ways of thinking and prior understandings.
  4. Gradually shift the responsibility for learning to your students through practice exercises, question-and-answer dialogues, and/or discussions that engage them in increasingly complex thought patterns.

Man is but a mortal fool
When it’s hot, he wants it cool
When it’s cool, he wants it hot
He’s always wanting what is not. (Ode to Summer in Seattle)

Metacognitionmental processes that assist learners to reflect on their thinking by internalizing, understanding, and recalling the content to be learned. E.g. “invisible thinking skills”

  • self-interrogation,
  • self-checking
  • self-monitoring
  • analyzing
  • mnemonics (for classifying and recalling content)

Mental Modeling:  helps students internalize, recall, and then generalize problem solutions to different content at a later time.  Steps:

  1. Showing students the reasoning involved
  2. Making students conscious of the reasoning involved
  3. Focusing students on applying reasoning

Skilled demonstrators of mental procedures do the following:

  • Focus learners’ attention
  • Stress the value of the demonstration
  • Talk in conversational language while demonstrating
  • Make the steps simple and obvious
  • Help learners remember the demonstration

I keep asking myself in this chapter, isn’t this how we should be teaching all the time?  Why is it called out as specific to self-directed learning?  Shouldn’t all learning, or couldn’t all learning be self-directed?  If its true that the only learning that “sticks” is learning related to a student’s interests, then we should spend more time connecting with those.

Teacher Mediation:  on-the-spot adjustments to content flow and complexity to accommodate individual learning needs are called teacher mediation.

  1. The Zone of Maximum Response Opportunity  (this is the Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development):  it is the zone of behavior that if stimulated by you will bring a learner’s response to the next level of refinement.
  2. Hitting the Zone of Maximum Response Opportunity
    1. Can’t be done for all learners at all times.  Hmm.
    2. Is what separates individualized learning (via computer or highly programmed environment) and self-directed learning.

A baseball analogy, don’t aim for hitting the zone too narrowly


Functional Errors:  student errors that can be reacted to in a meaningful way so that learner’s understanding is enhanced.

“the specter of failure is left hanging over the learner and the teacher has no easy way out of this awkward ending”  (Borich, 2011, p. 338).

Reciprocal Teaching:  provides opportunities to explore the content to be learned via classroom dialogue.

Turn a typical discussion into a more productive and self-directed learning experience by practicing the four activities of reciprocal teaching

  1. Predicting
  2. Questioning
  3. Summarizing
  4. Clarifying


Social Dialogue Versus Class Discussion:  teacher scaffolds knowledge, building the dialogue layer by layer, thus shifting the learner from just responding to textual material but to internalizing the material by elaborating, extending, and commenting on it.

Again, I really think all discussion type activities should be social dialogues and not lectures

The Role of Inner Speech: learner-created comments, elaborations, and extensions which although originally verbalized, can become a type of scaffolding, i.e. private internal dialogue in the mind of the learner, and can help guide through future problems.

Sample Dialogues of Self-Directed Learning

think sheets  [need to look these up they look interesting]

Our goal is to move from declarative knowledge to procedural knowledge.


Other Cognitive Strategies: we will talk about each of these in turn

cognitive learning strategy is a mental construct to help you learn on your own, or a general method of thinking that improves learning across a variety of subject areas

  • mnemonics (memory aids)
    • jingles or trigger sentences
    • narrative chaining
    • number rhyme or peg word
    • chunking
  • elaboration/organization (note taking)  [how I am treating this blog post]
    • read text before class
    • watch for signals of importance
    • write down main ideas
    • use a free form outline format
    • write down examples and questions
    • leave blanks if you missed something
    • review your notes ASAP
  • comprehension-monitoring strategies
    • survey the text and make prediction about what it says
    • ask questions about the main idea of the text as it is being read
    • ask “do I understand what I just read?”, i.e. monitor understanding
  • problem-solving strategies
    • problem-based learning:  organizes the curriculum around loosely structured problems that learners solve by using knowledge and skills from several disciplines
    • IDEAL problem solving system
      • Identify the problem
      • Define the terms
      • Explore strategies
      • Act on the strategy
      • Look at the effects
  • project-based strategies
    • see below


Project-Based Learning
1. communicates to learners the importance of the learning process and not just the product
2.  helps them set goals
3.  uses instructional groupings to elicit the cooperation of others in completing the project

”unlike problem-based learning, project-based learning is targeted toward an achievable end product that is visualized before the process is begun” (Borich, 2011, p. 351).  Thus a project has a central question and has a final product.

  1. The Role of Tasks in Project-Based Learning,
    1. characteristics of a good project:
      1. is of extended duration
      2. links several disciplines
      3. focuses on the process as well as the product
      4. involves teacher as a coach, and often small-group collaboration
    2. and
      1. presents a challenge
      2. allows for learner choice and control
      3. is doable
      4. requires collaboration
      5. results in a concrete product
  2. The Role of the Learner in Project-Based Learning, learners will acquire important knowledge and skills from a project only if they
    1. attribute their success to the effort
    2. believe they can accomplish the goals of the project
    3. perceive themselves as competent
  3. The Role of the Teacher in Project-Based Learning
    1. avoid statements that imply that innate ability is all that is required to complete a project
    2. focus learners’ attention both on the process of completing the project and on the product that results
    3. make encouraging statements to learners that promote commitment

Students who fail to see the purpose or personal relevance of class activities perform more poorly than those who do see the connection between their classwork and their lives.  Helping learners take ownership of their learning and allowing them some voice in class activities, as well as their evaluation, is often suggested as an important part of increasing motivation and thus decreasing apathy.  This appears to hold true across cultural and linguistic lines, as well as across academic disciplines.  (Borich, 2011, p. 352).


That last quote speaks really powerfully to me, and I am really looking forward to my internship at a school that highly values project-based learning.  The Big Picture schools ( are built on the principles of inherent interest for projects, real-world experience (through internship), and regular presentation of results (student project exhibitions).





Borich, G. D. (2011). Effective Teaching Methods: Research-Based Practice. (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon.

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  • maloneytl  On August 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I appreciate how you used one of the cognitive techniques to set up this blog…elaboration. I had always thought of guided notes or teaching students how to take notes but it makes more since seeing your notes and then your thoughts in the post. Thank you for adding clarity to this.

  • Holly Willey  On August 14, 2011 at 4:20 am

    I also really liked the passage about how important it is for students to feel a connection between their life and what they are learning. The common theme I noticed in the beginning of your notes was discovering students’ interests and building learning experiences around those interests. I am definitely more motivated to learn about something I find interesting and relevant to my life. I sure hope I can do this for my students!

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