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Deeper Learning Digest: Finding students’ and teachers’ ‘Intellectual Courage’

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November 07, 2014 12:00 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.

What happens to students who just don’t see higher education in their futures when a high school makes college its mission? At the Springfield Renaissance School in Springfield, MA, all students know from the moment they walk through the door as sixth graders that they are on the path to college. Working within the school’s Deeper Learning Network in a district where only half of students even graduate from high school, schools like Renaissance are pushing students to develop their intellectual courage within a Deeper Learning network.

Imagine this scene. Several students are huddled up over a workspace, taking steps to solve a real world problem. They are questioning, probing each other’s thinking, seeking resources, and using feedback to check their understanding and refine their approach. Is this a high school physics class?  Nope, it’s a professional development session. This kind of active and engaged professional learning is standard practice in Expeditionary Learning Schools, and in hundreds of Deeper Learning Network schools all over the country. Learning Deeply

The latest entry in the Alliance’s “Core of the Matter” blog series focusing on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards and struggling students, Monica Almond, policy associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education, writes that the Common Core could become a missed opportunity for schools that are largely focused on test scores rather than opportunities for deeper learning. Almond writes, “As the mother of an African American sixth grader who currently attends a school that is part of the deeper learning network, I am blessed that she was able to enroll in a school that inspires her to learn by participating in project-based, hands-on learning expeditions where she takes complete ownership of her learning and is challenged to grow as a thinker and a communicator.”

To ensure equity, some argue that assessments must be standardized, while others say they should be personalized. As states continuously improve systems of assessment and accountability, are there common principles that can guide us all to victory? Jenny Davis Poon, director of the Innovation Lab Network at the Council of Chief State School Officers, writes,  “High expectations, standardized across the state, coupled with well-supported systems of assessments of Deeper Learning, will help ensure that students–all students–can win.” Learning Deeply

“I was never good at math.” In his 25 years as an elementary school teacher Ron Berger, chief academic officer for Expeditionary Learning, has heard that phrase more times than he can count. But one DC area charter school took on the challenge of making that phrase disappear. Two Rivers Public Charter School transformed their faculty from one with typical weaknesses in mathematics instruction into a potent force. Berger explains how the school has helped teachers to step up with intellectual courage, responding with uncommon risk-taking and personal growth.

Can James Bond really help to explain Deeper Learning? This crafty, clever, and cunning mind of the past lends itself to the new publication from the National Research Council. Education for Life and Work makes the case that the ultimate goal of education is ‘Transfer:’ the ability to take what was learned in one situation and apply it to new situations, a concept rooted in Deeper Learning. Educators who wish to achieve this take a ‘007 approach’ with students – supplying them with the right tools or gadgets to problem solve.

Playing games at school can inspire students in ways that nobody could predict. Because games immerse students in a world outside their daily experience game-based pedagogy can help students learn skills that they could never grasp by reading a textbook. Here are five of them. The Journal

No bells ring at this high school, and you won’t find monitors roaming the halls or restless students asking fitfully for permission to use the restroom. But you might find biotechnology students cloning carrots in the lab. Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) has become a California state model for how to deliver project-based, linked learning education. EdSource



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