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Deeper Learning: Highlighting Student Work

Deeper Learning: Highlighting Student Work
A student self-portrait from Ron Berger's student work portfolio Photo credit: Ron Berger I travel with a heavy suitcase. Over my 35-year career as a public school teacher and educator at Expeditionary Learning, I have been obsessed with collecting student work of remarkable quality and value. The student work in my giant black suitcase is exemplary -- beautiful and accurate, representative of strong content knowledge and critical thinking skills -- but it's not from "exceptional" students. Student self-portrait Photo credit: Ron Berger When I work with educators around the country and pull this work out of my suitcase, it changes the vision of what is possible when students are allowed, compelled and supported to do great things. Every time I present this work and discuss it with teachers and school leaders, I reminded that the choices we make about how to use time in school are often the enemy of quality or value. Seeking Value Student-designed Greenprint Austin's Butterfly The Greenprint Related:  Teaching & Learning

How Open Badges Could Really Work In Education Higher education institutions are abuzz with the concept of Open Badges. Defined as a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest, Open Badges are not only a hot topic as of late, but are also debated by some critics as the latest threat to higher education. A closer look at this emerging trend reveals benefits for traditional institutions and alternative learning programs alike. Some advocates have suggested that badges representing learning and skills acquired outside the classroom, or even in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), will soon supplant diplomas and course credits. Badges in Higher Education For higher education institutions interested in keeping pace, establishing a digital ecosystem around badges to recognize college learning, skill development and achievement is less a threat and more an opportunity. Accredited higher education institutions already possess significant advantages. Learning By Design Learning by design is the first step.

How Building a Car Can Drive Deeper Learning Kathryn: My name is Kathryn, I'm fourteen years old and I live in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Kathryn: I don’t really know what originally put it into my head. I'm not entirely sure, I think a big part of it though was working and going to car shows and just seeing different things that people had built. Kathryn :It was kinda love at first sight, you know. Kathryn :When we first got the car home, we put it into the back yard, because I wanted to get started right away, of course. Jerry: This is the hardest one to get. Kathryn: Yeah, I can. Jerry: Where the bottom stroke of the piston is. Jerry: I got it. Jerry: All right. Jerry: We're good. Dale Dougherty: When we immerse ourself in a big project or a problem set, without even necessarily knowing why or what the outcome is, we have the opportunity to learn new things that are unlike any other opportunity. Jerry: Mm-hmm, I'd always look at that, real close there on those two. Kathryn: I'm not so sure it's solid. Jerry: What's not solid?

Infographic: 9 Ways Digital Learning Tools Function In late 2012, digital learning tools are exploding in popularity. Some of that is due to the inherit interest new “stuff” promotes. But some of it is due to the ability of technology to empower each individual learner with information access, just in time learning, powerful learning simulations, and access to a network of peers and collaborators worldwide. The best part? 9 Ways Digital Learning Tools Function VIA Learning: PersonalizationMotivationPersistence THROUGH Schools: ProductionSimulationCollaboration BY Enhanced Access: AccessAccelerationOptions The infographic below from also lists many of these ideas while offering to several real-world examples of schools putting digital learning tools into action at the classroom level.

A Collaborative Classroom What's ideal when it comes to collaboration in our classrooms? Here's one coveted scenario: several children gathered at a table engaged in a high-level task, discussing, possibly debating an issue, making shared decisions, and designing a product that demonstrates all this deeper learning. As teachers, we'd love to see this right out the gate, but this sort of sophisticated teamwork takes scaffolding. It won't just happen by placing students together with a piece of provocative text or an engaging task. In preparing our students for college and careers, 21st century skills call on us to develop highly collaborative citizens -- it's one of the 4 Cs, after all. So how do we begin this scaffolded journey? Establish Group Agreements Deciding on group norms, or agreements, right at the get go will give each student a voice and provide accountability for all. Accountability is an important factor in group working agreements. Teach Them How to Listen Teach Them the Art of Asking Good Questions

Downside of Grit April 6, 2014 The Downside of "Grit" What Really Happens When Kids Are Pushed to Be More Persistent? By Alfie Kohn [This is an expanded version of the published article, which appeared in the Post's Sunday "Outlook" section. Cognitive ability isn't the only factor that determines how children will fare in school, let alone in life. But a funny thing has happened to the message since then. Emblematic of this shift is Paul Tough's recent bestseller How Children Succeed, which opens with a declaration that what matters most for children are qualities like “persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit, and self-confidence.” Nor is this emphasis unique to Tough. The hard-line inner-city charter school chain known as KIPP has integrated the idea of grit into its teacher training. The problems with grit, however, go well beyond the fact that it's not exactly a fresh idea. Moreover, persistence can be counterproductive and even unhealthy. Really?

Deeper Learning: Performance Assessment and Authentic Audience In a conversation with a veteran educator -- a man with years of experience teaching English and acting as a headmaster -- I was confronted with a prejudice so ingrained in my teaching that I was almost embarrassed to admit it. He said, "You know, when I ask a student to write a paper and turn it in to me, that's ridiculous; I'm the worst audience they could have." I was intrigued. He went on, "Who am I to assume that someone will want to write their best work, something truly personal and creative, for me? A single-person audience is a pretty lame audience, let alone the fact that I'm a middle-aged white guy." That hit me like a rolled-up newspaper. As I absorbed this veteran educator’s words, I realized that not only was I wrong in my assumption that I (or any teacher) is a meanigful audience, but also that my assumptions about how grading and assessment work were so far removed from modern research that I might as well have been a 21st-century doctor treating humours. This matters. 1. 2.

Deeper Learning Rahil Maharaj explains that attending Impact Academy, an Envision school in Hayward, California, has given him the inspiration and confidence to work hard and apply to college. Watch the video >> 0 To succeed in the future, students will need to know how to analyze, collaborate, and innovate. But our education system isn’t as effective at preparing them as it could be. Watch the video >> 0 “In order to prepare young people to do the jobs computers cannot do we must re-focus our education system around one objective: giving students the foundational skills in problem-solving and communication that computers don’t have.” – Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane, “Dancing with Robots”. Learn more >> 0 Tiana Alba-Lanzerin prepares to present her graduation portfolio at an Envision high school in San Francisco, California. “I provide students with the opportunity to ask the questions, to become captains of their own learning.” What is deeper learning? Learn more >> Learn more >>

Reframing Worksheets Worksheets matter! I know we hear a lot of talking points that tell us to get rid of them, but I think it's much more complicated than that. That call for "no more worksheets" comes from a place where that is all there is. By that I mean classrooms where students do nothing but worksheets. A recent visit to a PBL school jumpstarted my brain on this issue. Worksheets That Model a Career Tool Students consistently worked on a piece of paper shown below. As we design worksheets, let's consider making them look like the real-world work that students are doing -- or could be doing. Worksheet used at ACE Leadership Academy Credit: Andrew Miller Other Tips for Worksheets Include the Driving Question Where Students Can See It Like changing the look of the worksheet, this piece may seem too simple to make a real change. Rubric and Reflection Remember that a rubric can actually be just another quality indicator. Scaffolding the Levels of Questions