In this weeks edition, January 16 of Edutopia the focus is on “deeper learning”. Those of us who have been around for some time as middle level educators are saying HOORAY! At some point (Ed Brazee I am sure can name the time period) there was a shift to a more intentional focus on the curriculum. The developmental needs intersecting with the learning needs.
Much of what I read in the Edutopia article called Deeper Learning: Why Cross-Curricular Teaching is Essential” the author, education consultant, and blogger Ben Johnson says: “Deep learning implies that students will follow a particular stream of inquiry to the headwaters, rather than simply sampling all the possible streams.” Ben didn’t mention any one particular grade level or age of student. He points out that it is time to create possibilities for students to reach their potential.
Ben claims that teachers and administrators need to “understand and accept” the following:
- Deep learning engages the whole student (and teacher) — heart, mind and body
- It requires enthusiastic partners
- It requires intensive preparation
- Assessment must mirror learning
- Collaboration is necessary
This doesn’t sound like anything new but I do sense in the articles that I have read recently an urgency that I haven’t in the past. An urgency for educators to get it right.
As Edutopia authors do so well there are great examples including a blog by a Language Arts teacher who has a TED talk unit. In the blog post she discusses the changes to her TED talk unit aligning it with ELA Common Core – specifically on “argument”.
The teacher makes a connection to the “21st Century four Cs”. She aims for each lesson to correlate to at least one of the four important skills: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. You can read the details of the work by clicking here. I suggest you go to the article and read the other examples provided as well.
Mr. Johnson stresses the importance of breaking down the walls between content and the value of collaboration. Working with students to help them go deeper in their learning. In many cases they have not been challenged in their thinking for their elementary years so getting them to go deeper is a challenge for teachers. Mr. Johnson ended the article with this statement:
“Students and teacher teams focusing on learning deeply have the force to achieve learning beyond the traditional education dam and shoot out over the spillway to not only understand the torrent of available knowledge, but to also add to it in phenomenal ways.”
I know middle level educators are up to the task of educating students in a 21st century classroom. With ongoing communications with students, parents, and colleagues we can create the opportunity for deeper learning for all students.