C4Wk5: Putting Deep Learning into Practice

The daily life of Students and Teachers can be way more exciting… way more powerful

Push & Pull: the Role of Technology

shallow focus photography of man in white shirtImage taken from Unsplash

Deep Learning In Action

Deep Learning is engaging, relevant, authentic, & builds on the 6 C’s…

  1. Citizenship
  2. Character
  3. Creativity
  4. Collaboration
  5. Communication
  6. Critical Thinking

As a school, we focus a lot on building citizenship & character through our advisory program that meets 4 days a week for 25 minutes. In my own classroom, we focus a lot on communication and in the co-taught setting model what collaboration looks like as we push their critical thinking skills.

As an educator, my strengths lie in engaging the students and building relationships that develop and enhance character whereas on the opposite end I find it more challenging to really get at the growth of critical thinking skills, taking time and repetition.

I think we can access deep learning by continually reflecting on the engagement of our students and seeing if they truly found the lesson relevant and authentic. Helping them make these connections is one way to assess if deep learning took place.

It is similar to John Hattie’s work from Education Week  in that in the end the entire point is to get us, educators,” to reflect on our own practices using evidence, and then move forward by looking at the practices that we use every day and collecting evidence to give us a better understanding of how it works.”

I have experienced both intensive PBL training and been a part of the Humanities & Math department PBL units. PBL or Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.  We were able to plan some great units as a school when our administration built this into our professional development days and we came together as an entire school k-12 to work on our lesson designs.

When supporting our Science department I got to experience a great unit for Design Thinking. When students engage in “Look, Listen, & Learn” they are able to apply newly acquired knowledge to reach a solution, provide and analyze their ideas and move towards creating something or having an action/event.  They highlight what’s worked and what didn’t and how to fix what was failing. Each mistake they fixed during the revision process led them to success.  Then finishing with the launch and sending their work to the world! Where once again they look-listen-learn.

Specifically, for this unit, students researched an endangered animal or world issue and had to work together collaboratively to create a solution. Using prior skills to create a budget and realistically argue if their solution to whatever problem they chose was manageable. In the end, they put on an exhibition, and parents and fellow students were allotted “tokens” to “donate” to the cause that they felt would be the most successful if implemented in our world.

Finger Man, Not Hear, Not See, Don'T Talk, FingerImage taken from Pixaby.com

I hope to do more of this in the context of my own field of Special Education, through continued work in Advocacy and Student Empowerment. Helping students utilize their strengths and understand how to build on these to overcome their challenges and ensuring they can see where they can contribute to this world, making it a better place. As a SEN teacher, case manager, and advisor I strive to help build self-esteem and confidence so every student knows their value and worth allowing them to self-regulate and monitor their progress towards their short and long-term goals, objectives, and big dreams.

For course 5, I plan on cultivating student well being during these covid times that are proving to be extremely challenging, not just for students, but the teachers as well.  My methods to continue to have a dialogue about the learning process and have students use their newly created knowledge for real-life problem solving and help ALL students identify their purpose, talents, and passions.  I would love to read Hattie’s book, “Visible Learning for Teachers”  and enjoyed his 8 Mindframes for teachers video. I’d like to continue to look for even more ways to get kiddos in SEN to become deep learners and my fellow colleagues to teach so it STICKS!

The Success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do.      I am a change agent. -John Hattie

C4Wk2: Partners in Learning

Technology is just a tool. It’s a powerful tool, but it’s just a tool. Deep human connection is very different. It’s not a tool. It’s not a means to an end. It is the end – the purpose and the result of a meaningful life.

Melinda Gates, Philanthropist, Duke University Commencement Address, 2013

Images take from article: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning 

Deep Learning is quality learning… that sticks!

What really resonated with me this week was the importance of Michael Fullen’s New Pedagogies for Deep Learning with the emphasis on making learning exciting and the importance of building trust. He explained going about that quite simply by:

  1. Name it
  2. Model it
  3. Monitor it

“Trust” by Pro-Zak is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This leads me more towards looking into the leadership roles within a school:  and how new leaders “figure out how to relate to the group, to change the nature of the work” and even more importantly build collaboration that lasts beyond the leader leaving. Especially in an international school setting where turnover is usually quite high;  a collaborative group continues on after the leader has then left.  These leaders must focus on creating conditions that pull students’ and teachers’ initiative and potential forward; therefore, paving the way for new pedagogies that allow deep learning to take place. Without teacher initiative and recognizing the potential to move forward, it reminds me a lot of effect size and what the many factors are affecting student achievement.  With the teacher as Activator with an effect size of .72 (and as a facilitator at .19) it is crucial that as educators we continue to reflect on our current proven practices. This hold especially true in the field of SEN/SPED when in order to make a years plus growth in one years time, choosing interventions and teaching practices with effect sizes of at least 1 is the most beneficial for our students.  Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement is a great reminder of what those include. Specifically, Collective Teacher Efficacy is the highest at 1.57, which is the collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students’ lives in education. This also holds a strong correlation to job satisfaction; and during a pandemic year, one that has greatly been impacted.

Image Taken from Visible Learning: Hattie Ranking: 252 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement

Another aspect I found quite helpful was his mentions of Assessment Literacy: or the ability to be skilled at looking at the data and how to proceed with it. Since now more than ever teachers are bombarded with data and evidence that leads to an overwhelming amount of it, but being able to decipher it and see how we’re doing as educators. I found that the Principal’s Training Center (PCT) course on assessment incredibly helpful towards making progress towards this and attempts at achieving mastery.

Image taken from Pixaby

In order for this deep learning to be possible and to then stick, human connections are even more important than ever… especially in a now Covid plagued world.

Teachers can no longer get away with saying, “I don’t care if they like me, they don’t need to like me, they need to learn.” Hopefully, with more and more research and understandings out there, teachers will begin or continue to acknowledge how important a safe environment and good rapport go hand in hand with student achievement. Especially in the world of SEN/SPED, if a child doesn’t like their teacher, walls go up and it makes any learning even that much harder to obtain.

“If kids know you care about them as human beings,it makes all the difference”-Pauline Roberts

Teachers need to (naturally) gravitate towards new pedagogies that offer a new way of teaching or new tools that sparks engagement and learning.

Photo by Wout Vanacker on Unsplash

As stated in the article, How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning, “Is it any wonder that studies from many countries show that less than 40% of upper secondary students are intellectually engaged at school?” If that number isn’t alarming and cause for a change, I don’t know what other motivation there could be.

Creating the freedom to learn and the freedom to contribute and participate on a global scale is a remarkable task one that wasn’t even in existence a decade ago and will take the continued transformation of technology within the classroom to achieve.

We need to continually push for more exciting lessons:

Image take from Michael Fullen's New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

Learning PartnershipsHandshake, Hands, Laptop, Monitor, Online, Digital

No matter if you call it digital learning, distance learning, or off-campus learning, the partnerships formed are more important now than ever. Not being in the ‘brick n mortar’ model of education where everyone is face to face and one can easily pop in and out of classrooms to bounce ideas off one another and more importantly give that specific regularly and timely feedback only became more and more challenging.

The learning partners must find a balance that will be different to each learning context; from my partnership in the Math 7 classroom with one teacher to my Humanities 7 classroom daily with another, to yet even a 3rd partnership with my instructional assistant in two pull out small group classes; each one offers a unique and specialized approach to collaboration.

Achieving the right balance between structure and independence is something that continually takes hard work, a massive amount of organization and on going communication depending on the subject, the complexity of the task at hand, and even greater impact…. the level of familiarity with the content.  We must be co-learners alongside our kids. Able to model the learning process that is required when answering great open-ended questions after a strong trust is built and engagement flows.

Throughout each learning process, it now becomes the focal point for all individuals to have mutual discovery, creation, and use of knowledge. To even attempt to tie in the frameworks more often than just during the large department’s meetings when establishing the year-long plans.

Fostering Partnerships to Support & Enhance

The ongoing teamwork and collaborative efforts allow for the greatest student achievement as we are able to build on one another strengths.

Learning outcomes are measured by:

  1. Capacities to build new knowledge and to lead their own learning effectively
  2. Proactive dispositions and their abilities to persevere through challenges
  3. The development of citizens who are life-long learners.

And it is through collaborative effective partnerships that we can achieve these learning outcomes and continually push for higher student engagement and deep learning… that STICKS!

Effective partnering is built on principles of equity, transparency, reciprocal accountability and mutual benefit.Through such partnering, teachers not only become learners themselves, but also begin to see learning through the eyes of their students. This ‘visibility’ is essential if teachers are to continuously challenge students to reach for the next step, and if they are to clearly see whether teaching and learning strategies are achieving their intended goals.


Hattie. J. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. London: Routledge.

Embracing a New Model of Education

Our school has really been a focus on ensuring as much face to face time learning can take place while not compromising the safety and health of our community. Professional development and resources have been increased and extended to help compensate for these changing times, though at times the learning process can be hindered due to last minute changes or frequent change in teaching models at a moments notice (when a certain number of positive Covid cases has been reported) this effects any long term planning or even knowing which days classes will come next.  It has been a true testament to the flexibility and teaching our student to embrace

man using computer inside room spontaneity. A term not many educators are comfortable with, as we plan and have attempted to control every factor within our classrooms that are now on the other side of a screen.

Our school could be more accepting of new pedagogies and models by taking further action after completing a SEN/SPED audit through Next Frontiers: Inclusion.  They offered huge insight into our school’s teaching and inclusionary practices, as well as examples and models of different co-teaching methods: which we’ve found to be very useful and lead us to question the overall program and placement of students who receive specialized educational services.

In order for new pedagogies to spread,  teachers, students, and leaders must implement them and then collaborate to share their experiences. Only then will their experience and energy, help impact these learning practices that are being had on everyone involved.

My goal for deep learning partnerships at our school would be for teachers to embrace their partnerships with students to master the learning process; while continuing to expand their repertoire of teaching strategies in order to enhance the foundation of teacher’s pedagogical capacities.
I want teachers and students to not only master content knowledge, but the process of learning. Most importantly learning how to learn by:
  • Students defining their own learning goals and  success criteria
  • Students monitoring their own learning
  • Students critically examining their own work
  • Students incorporating feedback from anyone including, but not limited to: their peers, teachers, and parents 
  • Students use all of this to deepen their awareness of how they function in the learning process

After all of this happens and students begin to make progress in mastering the learning process, our role as educators can then move from ‘explicit structuring of learning tasks, and spend more time providing feedback, activating next-level learning challenges, and continuously developing the learning environment.’

Let’s Cross the Finish Line Together

Image taken from Toaster Masters International

Last, as we consider the New Pedagogies for Deeper Learning all we need to focus on are the 6 C’. Whether it’s for project-based learning, through direct instruction, or through an inquiry-based mode of learning, having the teacher as an ‘activator’ (higher effect size) as opposed to ‘facilitator’ (lower effect size, even below the hinge point) will allow for deeper learning experiences to take place in our classrooms.

Character Education

Citizenship

Collaboration

Communication

Creativity

Critical Thinking

Nerivill1, Ocean, Women, Sea, Summer, Beach, Woman

Based on this week’s readings, in order to engage and support deeper learning, I will shift my practice to continue to work on my questioning- especially when in the large classroom setting (non pull-out environment) to ensure all learners are achieving their level best. I like to activate my students through the use of greater questioning techniques, holding them accountable, setting clear/high expectations, and helping them set their own goals and monitor their own progress- especially around self-regulatory skills and constant reflection.

 How Do You ‘Activate’ Students?

My practice has deepened since the start of my COETAIL journey as I have gained many new tools to utilize in my classrooms, ended my protest of Twitter, and expanded my PLNs through blogging.  I’ve implemented many “new” technology features to enhance the learning of my students right alongside me.  Modeling every step of the way, that it’s more than okay to make mistakes and try new things while continually reminding one another

“Please be Patient we are learning”- Dr. Brent Mutsch