#Digilit Sunday: Function


Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function.  Check out Margaret’s post here. The part of “function” that I have been thinking about a lot lately is “executive function”.


It’s close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be increasing their own level of executive function?  Isn’t this where deep learning and even transfer live? Isn’t this the whole point of moving beyond “surface learning”?


Fisher, Frey, and Hattie

And of course, the most important factor in executive function, in my opinion, is that a student has had plenty of opportunities to “do the work”? How do teachers ensure that students are doing the organizing and the self-talk?  They must “say less so readers can do more” and demonstate over and over that they really can do the work with panache and  confidence!


Burkins and Yaris

For me, the connections from this post all began years ago during TCRWP Writing Institute with a conversation between Allison Jackson and myself about this book.  That conversation grew into a book study, Twitter chats and actually meeting the authors. Completely life-changing . . .


Vicki Vinton and Dorothy Barnhouse

The function of learning is that students do the hard work of making meaning. That students actually dig into surface, deep and transfer learning.  That teachers are like the conductors on the train.  Recognizing the signs, making them visually and verbally apparent, but that ultimately students are really the ones who need to be in charge of their learning. And that learning should always, always, always be JOYFUL!

Unfortunately, this Mark Twain quote may still be true:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

-Mark Twain

But I can learn in spite of or even despite my education!

Is learning the FUNCTION of your work?

How do we know?


18 responses

  1. Great post Fran. I’ve always thought that hands on learning was really the best way to learn. I’m going to use gardening as an example. Wouldn’t it be better to teach kids to garden. They’d learn about the right type of soil, what nutrients it needed for the plants to thrive. They’d learn which plants need more sun and all about photosynthesis by being actively involved in the process. I haven’t researched this, but I’m willing to bet retention of the information would be much higher. 🙂

    1. Agreed, Lisa!
      So much more to REAL learning than just a collection of facts!

      1. You’re right about that, Fran!

  2. Love that Mark Twain quote. Makes me think about that word “schooling” as in a school of fish. Learning is so individual and experiential. Sometimes we need to diverge and venture off to make our learning a part of who we are.

    1. Love the idea of a “school of fish” from you, oh, great swimmer!

  3. Great connections Fran. Thanks for sharing the links to the other resources too.

    1. So many connections – so many different paths!

  4. Allison Jackson | Reply

    Hi Fran!
    So interesting you would post this today with the mention of our conversation a few years ago eventually leading to this post. It’s interesting because you say you’ve been thinking about “executive functioning” recently, and…. I have, too! I’ve been thinking about it because I have several students with attention deficits this year, and that has led to me learning a tiny bit about executive functioning. So we may be thinking about it in somewhat different contexts, but it’s so interesting to me how interconnected we/this all is. Does that make sense?

    1. Allison,
      Of course it makes sense when we’ve read many of the same things and worry about “when” and “if” students have “really” learned something! Same great thoughts and connections even if for different reasons ACROSS the miles! ❤

  5. I just ordered the Yaris/ Burkins book before I landed on this post. Funny how we are all thinking about this, how our learners become more in charge of their learning. We need to step out of the way. Thanks for linking up.

    1. Margaret,
      I love that we each had a bit different take on function but YET they all fit together!

      In my opinion, we can’t create “life-long learners” if there isn’t choice and self-direction. Sure seems like it would make learning easier for most students anyway!!!!

  6. We are on the same thought path today, Fran – down to the books we reference! The school year is not over…much work to be done, yet. But, I am saving Burkins & Yaris for the summer.

    1. Yes . . . so much work YET to do! And I just put #WRRD on my stack for summer rereading. I have 7 weeks until grad classes begin again so my reading marathon begins NOW! ❤

  7. Letting kids “do the work” has to be our goal. As Sharon Taberski (at least she’s who I first heard say this) has said “The brain doing the work is the brain doing the learning.” I’m looking forward to reading Who’s Doing the Work? this summer, too. Maybe we could have an online study group?

    1. Catherine,
      A study group will be fun. Nothing cements learning faster than the conversations we have about it! ❤

  8. […] Twitter connections are so fabulous. Via Twitter today I found out that the focus of #Digilit Sunday was function. Check out Margaret's post here. The part of "function" that I have been thinking about a lot lately is "executive function". It's close to the end of this school year, but how can students still be…  […]

  9. Thank you for your thinking on moving beyond the surface. Dig Deep until the #lastbell.

    1. Right – It’s not about everything counts but the last week. Every day, every minute is important learning time!

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