Something truly interesting happened just as I sat down to read Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners by Dennis DiNoia several weeks ago.
This is a sponsored post. I was given the product to review and I may be compensated for my honest review of the product.
DiNoia has over 30 years of teaching experience and is the founder of the Mr. D Math program. As a certified math teacher, online teacher, and tutor, DiNoia, in his new book, brilliantly explains – it’s like we’re having a chat over coffee – how to get our kids engaged in their own learning.
Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners Book Review
I recently was offered the amazing opportunity to read Mr. D’s first published book, TEACH, in exchange for an honest review.
What started as a typical book review, became a revelation of sorts, into how I educate my homeschooler, how I parent, and how he learns best. As I sat down to read this book – during a very tumultuous time in our family life – my son was sitting across the living room coffee table from me, engaged in one of his favorite activities; coding.
How to Be a Better Homeschool Teacher
I had just begun to try to work out how I was going to get him caught up on some schoolwork; again, tumultuous family stuff going on, and I had been scrambling to put together lesson plans for him to work on in the coming weeks.
However, by the time I finished reading DiNoia’s book, all of the stress and anxiety I had around ensuring he was learning everything he “needed” to learn, dissipated. I realized that, yes, in fact, he was learning and I had already – without intention – created an independently responsible learner.
You see, my youngest is almost 12 years old and is enamored with anything involving computer programming and coding. Me, on the other hand, I’m completely clueless when it comes to computer science (for the most part).
Now, I could go on and on, with him and try to teach him history and language arts; subjects I love and do know something about, but when it came to coding, I was completely hands-off. So, what happened?
Implementing Teach by Dennis DiNoia
The principles presented in Teach: Creating Independently Responsible Learners taught me – a veteran homeschooling mom of almost 12 years – that self-directed learning, is the best learning. I could present lessons to him all day long, but until he is able and willing to take ownership, I’ve just mirrored public school, the exact reason I pulled his now-adult siblings out of public school 13 years ago.
They were just regurgitating information, not truly learning it. but over the years, as I was able to empower them to be more internally motivated, and curious, they began taking on more, on their own; and enjoying the process of learning.
When you’ve homeschooled for years, the doubt comes in waves. Things will be going well for months and years, and then someone will say something or you realize you “missed” something in your chids’ education, and you begin to rethink everything all over again.
You pull out the textbooks, buy new curricula, and sign up for extra memberships’ and self-doubt creeps in. But, several weeks back, Dennis DiNoia’s words, in TEACH: Creating Independently Responsible Learners, reminded me once again, of the importance of letting my son take ownership of his learning.
Independently Responsible Learning
After all, he was implementing the principles DiNoia mentions in the book. In coding, when something doesn’t work right, there’s a lot of troubleshooting that happens. My son would code something, and notice it wasn’t behaving in the way he expected, so he’d go back to correct his work.
Side note: if you’re interested in more of what Mr. DiNoia has to say, check out his podcast, A+ Parents.
DiNoia mentions this in the book, about his math videos, “the students take the work, check the work, see how they are doing and correct their mistakes, and come back to the video,” this is exactly how my son was teaching himself to code; creating elaborate video games in Game Maker. He is teaching himself, and he’s excelling.
How to Teach Without Teaching
What I also realized, is that when my son accomplished something he was truly proud of, he wanted to share that with me. He wanted to teach me; to present to me, what he learned, how he accomplished it, and what he created. And, I was eager to hear it from him.
DiNoia explains in the book, “when the time comes to show your work…it is more than just submitting the assignment. The purpose is not to just give the work to someone else, it is for the student to take ownership of the work and present it.” And this is what my son was doing; presenting his work to me, as someone who knows very little about coding.
Students Can Take Ownership of Their Own Education
This is what I call, how to teach without teaching. This is something that I’ve known, deep down was an effective strategy, but in a moment of stress and doubt, I got away from what I knew. So, this book came at a very crucial time in our homeschooling journey.
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I’m grateful it did because it helped me see that I don’t need to be that hovering, helicopter homeschool parent. I can be confident that my son can learn, take ownership, and be an independently responsible learner and I’m certain that this will carry over into those subjects he may not be so engaged with.
Ownership and freedom from outside influence coupled with the trust I have in him, ensure he will be successful.
Are you struggling with home education right now? Are you tired of facilitating lessons that don’t land well? Do you want your child to be more engaged in their own learning?