Deeper Learning

23 Aug

Web

I have bee doing a great deal of reading on Deeper Learning for my students. Here some conditions I have found where it occurs:

  1. There was sustained examination of a few topics rather than superficial coverage of many. Teachers that covered a large number of topics usually gave students superficial awareness and limited ability to make meaningful, deep connections.
  1. There was substantive coherence and continuity.  There was systematic inquiry, logical development, and integration of ideas over time. In contrast, teachers that taught unrelated fragments of knowledge, without pulling them together, undermined deep learning.
  1. Students were given an appropriate amount of time to think and prepare responses to questions. Promoting deeper learning required periods of silence during which students pondered and created alternative responses, developed more elaborate reasoning, and helped students to spend time in reflection.
  1. The teacher asked challenging questions and/or provided structured challenging tasks. The teacher’s questions or tasks demanded analysis, interpretation, or manipulation of material – non-routine mental work. 
  1. The teacher was a model of thoughtfulness. Teachers themselves modeled thoughtful dispositions, such as showing a keen interest in students’ ideas and in alternative approaches to solving problems; showing how he or she thought through a problem; acknowledging the difficulty of gaining a definitive understanding of what is being learned.
  1. Students offered explanations and reasons for their conclusions. Students were frequently helped and encouraged to produce explanations and reasons to support their conclusions.

 Something to think about this week. What do you think?

The major source for this information is an article by Fred Newmann, The Prospects for Classroom Thoughtfulness in High School Social Studies, in Collins and Mangieri, Teaching Thinking: An Agenda for the Twenty-first Century (1991), and an article in Horace, the journal of the Coalition for Essential Schools, March, 1995, p. 5.

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