Students learn faster and enjoy learning more if their unique learning styles are affirmed.
Learning Styles: Reaching Everyone God Gave You by Marlene D. LeFever felt like it dealt with one of the most profound teaching concepts I’ve seen in a long time. 256 pages.
In this book, Marlene D. LeFever applies Bernice McCarthy’s educational theories to Sunday School teachers teaching children, but the concepts are applicable to any teaching situation.
This book described the learning process in four stages, and then argued that each person prefers a different stage. The teacher may only focus on their own preference, and ignore the other styles (and therefore, only really succeed in teaching students with the same style).
(Picture from https://allthingslearning.wordpress.com/tag/4mat-model/)
The learning process has four stages (and a lesson plan should include all four):
- Hook- This is where you capture their attention and establish why they need to know the material
- Book- this is where you present the new information
- Look- is where the material is put to use
- Took- is where the students make it their own and creatively implement it.
People have a preference for where they learn best. Imaginative learners excel in the hook stage. They need to talk about it and see the big picture before they are ready to learn. Analytic learners love the second stage- where new information is transmitted. Common Sense learners just want to get busy and excel in the third stage, while Dynamic learners see the world of possibilities as to what the new material could become.
Traditional educational models favor stage 2 with a bit of stage 3. But the job of the teacher is to teach everyone, so all the learning styles need to be addressed in a lesson.
This is further complicated by learning modalities (Visual, Auditory, Tactile). So it is possible to be a visual analytic, or an auditory analytic, or a tactile analytic, etc.
The book is laid out in 6 parts:
Part 1 describes the four learning styles, including ways to figure out your own learning style.
Part 2 has chapters with stories of the learning styles in action
Part 3 further explores the concepts by giving example lessons with commentary about how each section is targeting different learning styles
Part 4 mixes in the concepts of learning modalities (including a quick modality determination test), then systematically lays out activity ideas for each learning style/learning modality combination. A chapter is included with a “do it yourself” lesson plan.
Part 5 extends the concept of learning styles to other areas: recruiting volunteers, designing worship services and within the context of marriage.
Part 6 takes it a step further, describing Bernice McCarthy’s theories on left/right brain dominant thinking; which further divides the Four learning stages into 8. There is also a chapter on Rita and Kenneth Dunn’s theories on elements of learning, including concerns such as lighting, time of day, temperature and other factors.
Before reading this book, I was familiar with the concept of learning modalities (visual, auditory, tactile), and I was familiar with the concept of the structure of a lesson (hook, book, look, took), but the profound concept for me was that people have learning styles that correspond to the parts of a lesson, and are stronger in certain areas than others. It seems to explain a lot from what I’ve experienced teaching others. I feel I’ve had a paradigm shift in my thinking about teaching, and will approach the task with a new mindset, now.
I recommend this book not only for Sunday School teachers, but for any educator.
I read this book for the “Parenting/Homeschool” category in my 2017 reading goals.