Friday, December 05, 2008

Good question - how much new material do you give your students at one time?

From Bending the Twigs the Crimson Wife wants to know Does the "80% Commandment" Hold True in a Homeschool Setting? She starts with a quote from The 80% Commandment:

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The relationship between students’ accuracy with schoolwork and their subsequent behavior is described by the 80% Commandment: 'Thou shall not expect a student to do a learning task when he or she does not have the skills to complete the task with 80% success. Otherwise, that student will either act out or tune out.' Today’s frustrated students who lack basic skills most often respond by acting out.
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The Crimson Wife responds with:

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The author of the KTM post, Catherine Johnson, agrees wholeheartedly with McEwan-Adkins & Damer about the 80% Commandment and believes it's the reason why her students are struggling.
I tend to agree with this statement as it applies to a traditional classroom setting with 20-30+ students. But I wonder how applicable it is in a homeschool, where the child spends much of his/her time working one-on-one with the teacher.
I have definitely noticed that my DD will become frustrated if the task she's being asked to do is way over her head. At the same time, however, I want her to be challenged by her schoolwork and to stretch herself beyond her comfort level. That's the only way she'll grow in what she's capable of doing.
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My thought is that the 80% reflects how well the student understands a new topic. As children work to master new topics I think it is easier, and maybe quicker, if they can take "Baby steps." (My wife and I love that line from What About Bob?) An important facet of our role as teachers is our ability to continually throwing new small pieces of information or skills at our children to be mastered.


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1 comment:

Lori said...

by definition, 80% would seem to be a challenge level -- if a child was 100% competent, the task is too easy; if they are 80% competent, they haven't achieved 100% yet but the task is also not completely beyond them.

homeschooling is the perfect environment for encouraging children to work at their challenge level and work to mastery .. it's difficult to do either of those things in traditional schools.