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Deeper Learning Digest: Deeper Learning Conference Takeaways

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April 08, 2016 04:56 pm

deeper learning

Out of the 2016 Deeper Learning Conference came many reflections and ideas for moving the deeper learning movement forward. The last Digest discussed Getting Smart’s Six Entry Points for Deeper Learning, but this week looks at equity in deeper learning, embracing failure as part of deeper learning, and reflections from one school.

The conference was heavily focused on equity, and creating deeper learning outcomes for all students. Getting Smart shared six promising practices in the equity movement that came out of conference:

  1. Cultivate equity leaders with a strong sense of purpose.
  2. Bring authentic selves and real world learning to the work.
  3. Consider goal-driven and equitable pedagogy.
  4. Create discourse and conversation around justice and injustice.
  5. Reflect on your own background and experiences.
  6. Focus on equitable practices that support English Language Learners.

The post includes a quote from Sarah Bertucci of Eagle Rock Professional Development Center, who highlighted the difference that deeper learning through an equity lens can make, saying: “Traditionally marginalized youth are often stuck in ‘drill and kill’ classrooms where they are expected to be receptacles of information rather than creators of new ideas that address real problems in their communities and lives — deeper learning with an equity lens is transformative for individuals and communities.”

Loretta Goodwin, senior director at the American Youth Policy Forum, shared her reflections on how many conversations at the conference focused on failure as an integral part of learning. “In order for deep learning to occur, everyone needs to be reassured that there will be moments of failure. These need to be acknowledged, embraced, and worked through as they are part of the process of creating innovative learning environments for all students,” she writes. She also discusses the role of trust, both between teachers and students and administrators and teachers. Creating an environment for personalized learning begins with establishing strong relationships between teachers and students, she explains, and a process that is “fraught with possibilities of failure,” and may take several iterations before balance is achieved. Read more:

Del Lago Academy  ̶  Campus of Applied Science, a public high school in Escondido, California, drew comparisons from the conference and the goals and learning approaches practiced at the school. Principal Keith Nuthall explains in the blog post that the competency-based system at Del Lago is “a step towards an equitable education” for their students. He notes a major focus was placed on project-based and workplace learning at the conference, reflecting on how Del Lago’s approach to blending learning involves incorporating both project-based and workplace learning with liberal arts “virtues and expectations.” Learn more about the school and their approach to bettering student outcomes:

On the topic of assessing deeper learning skills, Education Week’s Learning Deeply blog explores how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has created new opportunities for performance based assessments. States can now development systems of assessments that support deeper learning and are more closely tied to curriculum and instruction, writes Elizabeth Leisy Stosich, research and policy fellow at the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE). She explains that ESSA allows multiple statewide assessments instead of a single summative assessment, and encourages states to use assessments that measure higher-order thinking through projects, portfolios or performance tasks. “By requiring students to apply their knowledge and skills to construct an original response, performance assessments can evaluate and support students in developing the critical abilities–such as critical thinking, inquiry, communication, and collaboration–that are essential for student success but poorly measured by many traditional assessments.”

The Alliance dives deeper into this topic in a five-minute video on assessment provisions within ESSA, which you can view below. Looking for an easily-digestible written run-down? Check out the accompanying fact sheet at

Deeper Learning Digest

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