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Deeper Learning Digest: Exploring New Avenues for Deeper Learning

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January 23, 2015 01:00 pm


The ‘Deeper Learning Digest’ is a bi-weekly roundup of articles, blog posts, and other content around deeper learning. Make sure to add High School Soup to your RSS feed to stay up-to-date on all deeper learning news. Please be sure to follow @deeperlearning on Twitter for more on deeper learning.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spelled out his priorities for a new federal education law January 12, laying out his vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Duncan called for scrapping the ‘broken’ law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and emphasized the critical role of ESEA in protecting the rights of all students to a quality education that will set them up for success.

Robert Rothman, senior fellow at the Alliance for Excellent Education, writes that two less heralded events in education during the same time as Alexander’s and Duncan’s proposals might offer more of a progressive insight to driving education forward. As one offers a guide to states to support local districts in developing and advancing student-centered, personalized learning models, the other – an initiative from the Department of Education and the Alliance, allow more than 500 leaders to share ideas and access resources to help them design new education systems. While ESEA remains vital to the future of education, according to Rothman, other enterprises should not be overlooked.

Often times, when it comes to learning – ‘doing’ is understanding. David Sabey, a former middle school English/Language Arts teacher in Las Vegas, argues that the majority of schools teach students how to “do school,” but fail to expand beyond that. Sabey asserts that if educators have a goal of deeper learning competencies, “…we will prepare a generation of students who are expert grade-getters, but amateur thinkers; skilled in schooling, but ill-prepared for the practices of the workplace.”

Unlearning the way we’ve become accustomed to learning is critical to deeper learning, according to Harvard education professor Jal Mehta. He writes that developing new instructional approaches requires teachers to let go of longstanding practices they might have considered successful. So how do leaders facilitate the unlearning that is needed for deep learning? Learning Deeply

Exercises aimed at building empathy are common in classrooms across the nation, as educators seek to improve students’ social-emotional skills. The premise is that self-aware and emotionally stable educators are better equipped to build relationships with students, which in turn promotes the emotional and academic health of students.

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows interest in many countries in developing a broad set of knowledge and skills for students. The report notes some 450 polices being used in industrialized countries that focus on such things as equity and quality in education, preparing students for the future and improving student outcomes. Further, as the Alliance’s Robert Rothman points out, OECD’s report shows us that deeper learning is a global concern.

In his part two of his blogs focusing on the OECD report, Rothman focuses on Poland, a country that revamped its curriculum in 2008 to focus on critical thinking and problem-solving, and asserts that the U.S. should follow in the footsteps. He writes, “Making it possible for all teachers to be able to teach students to use knowledge to think critically and solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate with peers will be challenging. But as Poland’s experience shows, it pays off.”

Changing the way math content is presented to students and ensuring teachers feel empowered in their math instruction are two important steps to elevating math education in the U.S., according to a panel of educators and experts. eSchoolNews


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