By Emily Mikuzis, Madison Reed, Jake Mizialko, Alexandra Glinski, and Mark Heintz

This is part of a blog series intended to document and define learning at Elk Grove High School throughout the 2018-2019 school year in order to increase student learning, give professionals autonomy, increase trust in our learning community, and foster a sense of personal-intellectual collegiality within the building across departments. You can read all of the previous posts here. I am going into each teacher’s class four times and then they are reflecting along their students on the learning that took place and what they hope for.

In this second visit, I asked the teacher and the student two questions: how do they define learning? Under what conditions do people learn best?  In an attempt to have all stakeholders have a similar definition of learning, the teacher and the students answered them, publish them, and then have conversations surrounding their beliefs on learning. This is what they came up with:

Learning is:

  • for everyone.
  • transferable.
  • thinking deeply.
  • growing.
Learning occurs best when people are:
  • invested.
  • around others that want to learn. 
  • comfortable.



How do you define learning? 

Emily Mikuzis (Teacher):  Learning has happened when new information or skill is transferable. For example, in my own writing instruction, I have often focused on practicing the skills needed to perform a particular writing task. In the past, I might have given students an outline or sentence stems or templates for embedding quotes. I have noticed that these supports can help students succeed on a product, but do not support the transfer of skills. When I instructed this way, students were in danger of becoming overly reliant on prescriptive assignments. They may ask things like how many paragraphs do I need? How many citations are required?  By reflecting on rhetorical choices along the way, thinking deeply about purpose and audience, my hope is that students are better prepared to make these choices about writing in writing situations across disciplines.

Madison Reed (Student): I believe that learning could be a few things on a few different levels. Learning is discovering or being taught a new topic or thing. Learning is also finding out more about something you may have already known or learned everything about something.  Learning defines so many different things. Learning could be gaining knowledge of something physical, or just an idea. Learning can also be positive or negative. Learning involves the future, present, and past. It involves everything on the planet. It’s amazing all the different things that are learnable. And, the best thing is that it’s for everyone. Learning is power.

Jake Mizialko (Student): I define learning as anyone, doesn’t matter the age, that gains a better understanding of a certain subject. These subjects can be actual school subjects, lessons about how to improve your job, or even social skills. Learning occurs on an everyday basis multiple times a day and is the biggest factor in personal growth. Learning can be seen in all different aspects of life and it will benefit you greatly if you learn something new every day.

Alexandra Glinski (Student): I would define learning as acquiring knowledge about certain things that you experience. This could range from your everyday things to the curriculum that you learn at school. Everyone learns and processes new information from the second that they’re born and continue to learn for the rest of their lives. Learning involves expanding the mind and adding additional information and strengthening what the mind already has. One of the most important things that come with learning is allowing yourself to not only explained your knowledge but actually grow as a person too. How do you believe people learn best?

How do you believe people learn best?

Emily Mikuzis (Teacher):  I believe people learn best when they have invested in the process and the outcome. Students learn best when they know exactly what they are supposed to do and how doing that will help them. If the usefulness of the targets are in question, even if those targets are clear, it can be difficult for students to be invested enough to truly learn.

Madison Reed (Student): I think that everyone learns in different ways. For example, some people are more visual learners, while some are physical or verbal, etc. as well as people’s learning styles that way, everyone also learns best in different environments. For example, some people learn best one on one and some people learn best being with other students. Personally, I do not think that there is the best way to learn.

Jake Mizialko (Student):  I believe that people learn best when they are surrounded by the environment that will be the most beneficial to them. If everyone around you wants to learn and improve on a topic that will subconsciously drive you to do the same. Motivation and determination are two key factors when someone is deciding how much of a certain subject they want to learn and how much of that they will use later in life.

Alexandra Glinski (Student): I believe people learn best when they’re in an environment they’re most comfortable in. I think this plays a huge role in learning because being at ease and somewhere where you aren’t under stress can completely change your mindset and how you perceive everything that you’re taking in.

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