What are the Keys to Learning ?
A set of words we use as tools to help bring clarity and specificity to concepts & content. They help us to discover, reveal, unlock and disclose information. Many of the words are similar in nature, but there are subtle differences in meaning. The keys also have layers of sophistication. For example, “Types” vs “Significance”.
Download File for Keys Definition
It is important that you build familiarity with the terms and that they become part of the classroom vernacular for both the teacher and the students. These tools are good for both general education and gifted students. They can be applied in across grade levels and should not be reserved for older students.
- Keys are used by both the teacher and the students ACROSS DISCIPLINES.
- Generate Questions
- Add Rigor to Objectives
- Prompt Thinking
- Small & Whole Group Investigations
- Small & Whole Group Discussions
- Up-level Cornell Notes
- In conjunction with Thinking Maps
- Independent Study
Introduce the keys as needed (not all at one time).
- Define the term
- Practice with the familiar
- Apply to new knowledge
Begin with your standards and identify which keys are most appropriate. In many cases, there are already key words embedded in the standards.
Support students with Keys Words Statement Frames.
I created a poster that stayed up throughout the year as a scaffold for students. We initially practiced it whole group with a familiar story and then the students applied this to new stories.
With this poster, we utilized- Influence, Motivation, Rationale, and Significance.
Download File- Keys to Unlock Characters
Let’s try this with The Three Bears
- Goldilocks influenced the story by her disregard for others.
- Goldilocks was motivated to enter the bear’s house by her curiosity.
- Goldilocks is significant in the story because she was the source of the conflict.
More Character Analysis
Add Rigor by Combining Keys and Thinking Tools of Depth and Complexity and Content Imperatives
Download file Differentiating using Keys
Using Keys to Make Cognitive Connections
I had my students use a Making Connections handout to help them to generate questions and statements. I made a separate file for our studies of history and also one for analyzing literature. Prior to releasing to students, we went through the document whole group and the students jotted down notes and ideas on their handout. I wanted students to generate authentic questions they had at the time.
See some of the statements we created as a group below:
- I’m unsure about the reasons behind King George’s decision to tax the colonists.
- I wonder what the consequences would have been if The British had won the Revolutionary War.
- I wonder what the consequences would have been if The Son’s of Liberty had never been formed.
Download the making connections to non-fiction.Making Connections to Nonfiction
I created a separate file that was specific to literature that the students kept in their response to literature folder. This file contains stems that include keys and other general statements. Download the file.Keys Making Connections
Keys in Math
Much to the dismay of my students, I also employed Keys in math.
I felt this was especially important because if forced students to not only consider how they arrived at their answer but also to explain their thinking. I did not have students employ this will all the problems- just those that seemed to lend themselves well to explanation.
Download file- Using Keys to Unlock my Understanding of Math
Check Out Some More Examples of Using Keys