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Reflection: How Deeper Learning Prepares Students for College and Career

Reflection: How Deeper Learning Prepares Students for College and Career

Author: Kathleen Johnson

In this lesson, you will consider how Deeper Learning helps prepare students for college and career. You will reflect on how you implement Deeper Learning in the classroom and ways that you can enhance your approach to Deeper Learning.

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Today, we're going to be doing a bit of reflection. Specifically, we are going to be reflecting on how deeper learning really helps to prepare students for college and career. By the end of the lesson today, you are going to be able to review and reflect on the approach of deeper learning within the classroom and really how it can help prepare students for either college or for their career.

So first, what I would like to do is I want to do just a little review of deeper learning. So just as a reminder, deeper learning is really that approach to teaching and learning that helps students make a number of different gains within knowledge and skills. So first and foremost, students within deeper learning are going to gain that mastery of the foundational knowledge within their core classes, so language arts, math, science, and social studies. They're really gaining that mastery in that foundation.

The second kind of core deeper learning principle is that students are going to gain the ability to think critically as well as creatively. So students are asked to not only reason logically, but also to analyze certain situations and move forward with that. Also, students are going to gain the ability to collaborate, really working well with others, to not only reach their own goals, but also to reach some shared goals that they determine.

Within deeper learning, students are going to gain the ability to really communicate effectively, so not only communicating with perhaps a superior, but also, as we discussed in collaboration, communicating with other students in the classroom. Students are also gaining the ability to be more self-directed. So students are really taking charge of their own individual learning, and they are guiding that learning because through deeper learning, we're seeing a lot of that differentiated approach. And as such, students really are going to be having that ability to track their progress and to make those necessary adjustments to the learning strategies as they continue on.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, students are really gaining that academic mindset. So deeper learning really helps to motivate learners who are able to believe in themselves. Those learners within deeper learning really see it as relevant for their future success and as a means by which to achieve both in college and in their career.

So now as we reflect on the six principles of deeper learning, there are going to be a couple of things that we do. In that reflection process, first and foremost, we're going to identify within my own teaching-- in each area, we're going to identify potential strengths and weaknesses. So if we see some strengths, what are they? If we do find some of those weaknesses, we're going to create an action plan that can help address those weaknesses.

So as you reflect through, when you identify weaknesses, you want to make sure that you are identifying what you're going to do to turn that weakness into a strength. You want to make sure that you address the timeline with which you are going to make that happen. So how quickly does this weakness need to be addressed? You want to identify the resources that you are going to need in order to help take that weakness and turn it into a positive, and then you want to identify the different ways that you can monitor that progress.

So now let's go ahead and look back at those six major learning principles within deeper learning. And as we walk through this, I'm going to model walking through thinking about my teaching and what are at least two aspects of my teaching that fit into each areas of these.

So the first was that students are gaining that mastery of the foundational knowledge within the core classes. Since I teach English language arts-- and I'm going to focus in on my ninth grade class-- I definitely meet this in a couple of different ways. First and foremost, students are reaching that foundation knowledge within language arts when it comes to not only the writing portion, but as well as that foundational knowledge when it comes to reading and working on various skills for those readings as well as communication.

The second major area is the ability to think critically and creatively. I can look back on the work that we do with short stories and with the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, asking students to take some of those literary terms and understand and think critically about the way in which they are used in writing to help influence the way that we read it as well as to help get across some of those authors' key ideas. We also focus in and look critically at the way in which that different stories and books and plays and poems affect and reflect our society. So when we look at that, there are definitely a couple of different ways that within English 9, that deeper learning is allowing me to encourage students to think critically and creatively.

The third major area is the ability to collaborate. This is well placed within English 9. One aspect of the teaching that I do within English 9 is what I often call "talk to your table partner." So students are seated right next to someone else, and they have to collaborate with that student, helping to either come up with an answer to a particular discussion question, to talk out or reason through some of the problems that we put forward over certain areas within class so that they are able to collaborate with the person next to them.

Also as the forms of review, as we're getting ready for some of those summative assessments, I have students collaborate in some of these mixed academic groups, playing a game like a Jeopardy review game, forcing those students to really work together and collaborate, pushing themselves to come up with those answers and achieving that kind of shared goal together. Also the ability to communicate-- as we discussed before, students have to share out with their partner, as well as, when we get to our speaking unit, they have to be able to communicate up in front of the class. So we have both informal communication as well as that formal communication within our English 9 language arts classes.

The fifth major area of deeper learning is the ability for students to be self-directed. And when I look at this within my English 9 class, there are a couple of different ways that I can see this achieved through the deeper learning. The first way is that students are really seeing for themselves where the course is going over the entire year. So students are able to take what it is that they are going to have to learn over the course of that year and direct themselves to a couple of the major areas where they are really seeing that they need improvement.

One way that this can be incorporated is through the opportunity for multiple forms of extra credit. So if a student has achieved mastery in a certain area, but they're still not liking the way in which their grade is, the student can then take direction over the opportunity to change that. And they can address some opportunities for extra credit with me.

Finally, we have that academic mindset. And if I was going to address one area where I might see a weakness, it would be the academic mindset area. Because I'm dealing with ninth graders, sometimes creating that motivation within each individual student can be difficult. I would say with most of my students, I'm definitely achieving that academic mindset and that they're seeing themselves as strong learners who believe in themselves and the use of that learning in the future. But with all ninth graders, there are times where that academic mindset gets lost, and so that would be an area that I think I would want to address as a weakness.

Within deeper learning, then, what I'm going to want to do is create that action plan where I think, what am I going to do to help address this idea of academic mindset? I think one thing I can do is incorporate the idea of setting the goal at the beginning of the year and then having students check in with some of those goals and assessing how they are learning throughout the course of the year at a couple of different touchstone points.

So my timeline is going to be starting at the beginning and then having students check in at regular points throughout the year on their own learning, helping them to really see themselves as learners and focus in on the way in which they can better that learning. And the resources that I'm going to need are none except for student buy-in and then some good questions that I can ask the students to help with that reflection. Finally, I think the way I'm going to monitor my progress towards that is really doing some check-ins with individual students to see how they're using that time and if it's helping to impact how they're seeing themselves.

Now that we've reached the end of this lesson, you have been able to really review and reflect on the approach of deeper learning within the classroom. What I'd like you to do now is take just a moment to reflect on those six deeper learning principles. And what are some of the strengths and weaknesses that you see within your own teaching for some of those principles?

Now it's your turn to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section will be super helpful. This section is designed to really help you discover some of those useful ways to apply what you've learned. Each link includes a brief description so that you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on "Reflection: How Deeper Learning Prepares Students for College and Career"

(00:00-00:11) Intro

(00:12-00:23) Objectives

(00:24-02:42) Deeper Learning Overview & Concepts

(02:43-03:42) Reflection Process

(03:43-09:21) Model Reflection on Deeper Learning

(09:22-09:57) Review & Reflection

Additional Resources

Deeper Learning Video Series

This series of Teaching Channel videos includes 50 videos from the perspectives of the teacher, student, and class on transitioning to deeper learning practices in the classroom. The videos clearly demonstrate deeper learning practices in action.

Deeper Learning Competencies: April 2013

This handout from the Hewlett Foundation describes the deeper learning skills and their application in the classroom. This is a useful overview of deeper learning.