One of the most important “soft skills” we learn in my classes is “How To Figure Things Out For Ourselves.” As you can probably guess, this process drives students nuts to start with. Often, we’ll institute a “everyone gets an extra 100 if EVERYONE completes the assignment and NO ONE asks me how to do ANY part of it” rule. That tends to focus everyone and gets everyone to put on their collaborative hats really, really quickly.
Also, in my class, I have no worksheets, no real “tests” to speak of--just a series of assignments that swirl and meld into each other. Students realize pretty quickly that they can’t ignore one piece of the Assignment Tower, or the whole things falls down. They can’t just pick and choose to leave out certain assignments, because they need them all to be able to complete the Mastery Tasks. It’s Jenga For High Schoolers. Everything holds everything up.
So, when I combine those two principles - How To Figure Out Things Out For Ourselves and Everything Holds Everything Up, I end up with a class that can be frustrating for students, but ultimately works with cognitive science to help information stick even better that it would if I just explained all of the things to them.