What does “Deep Learning” mean? One researcher looks for concrete examples…

Summary: Educational scholar Dr. Monica R. Martinez researched eight public schools to discover the most successful methods and theories for promoting deep learning in the classroom (Martinez, 2015). Building on the principle of interpersonal connection, Martinez argues that students need to have practice supporting their peers’ successes. In addition Martinez claims that making learning meaningful to students’ lives involves bridging the gulf between the classroom and the community. Educators and librarians can do this by connecting students with outside communities, professionals, and relevant learning spaces outside the walls of the school like non-profit organizations and civic institutions. 

Opinion: Martinez’s approach in visiting and recording what is going on in public schools is admirable! It is so easy to overlook the small successes and the meaningful learning experiences that are happening out there. Her article gives educators hope about effective learning taking place across the country. By focusing on the positive, Martinez is collecting pearls of wisdom from contemporary educators in the trenches. While none of the insights here are particularly “new” or “novel,” by focusing on concrete and real experiences of public education, Martinez is grounding important concepts in the dynamic of lived experience. After reading her article, I am even more excited to read her book.

Martinez. M.R. (2019). 6 Powerful Strategies for deeper learning in your classroom. (Teacher Thought). Retrieved from: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/6-powerful-strategies-deeper-learning-classroom/

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Discovery Den

McGillis, Jennifer

CO

Berg, K., Kramer, J., & Werle, M. (2019). Implementing and Evaluating Instructional Partnerships. Knowledge Quest47(3), 32–38. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1201066&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Summary: This article discusses the need for students in Bismark, ND to have “success skills,” which translate to the 4 C’s; creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication, and they believe this is achieved through project based learning (PBL).  It was also determined that the traditional library model was no longer conducive to the 21st century skills they were promoting. They transformed the library into a “Discovery Den” where the teacher librarian plays a vital role in collaborating with the teachers of the school on the students learning. The article also discusses the importance of a personalized learning environment, where students can “own their education.”

Evaluation: I found this article very helpful, it has a lot of real life practical ideas and reaffirms that many of the ideas we have discussed in class are what teachers and librarians are finding works in the real world. The author even talks about hearing her district being mentioned as a model to look at when she is listening to What Schools Could Be by Ted Dintersmith which was very exciting.

A Prime Co-Teaching Opportunity

Taylor, Diana

CO

Jones, T. N. (2016, March 5). A Prime Co-Teaching Opportunity. Retrieved from https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=a-prime-co-teaching-opportunity

Summary: In this article, Jones discusses what it means for librarians to collaborate alongside of teachers and provides various co-teaching structures that can work. When just starting out, she recommends strategies for how to find likely partners of collaboration, how to find what research projects are planned, what to do next, and how to incorporate technology. She provides an overview the seven models of co-teaching. She also provides an overview of her “team teaching” model experience working with another teacher.

Evaluation: This article is particularly useful to new individuals going into the teacher librarian profession. It gave very specific strategies on how to support classroom instruction, so it was very real world applicable in terms of take away points.

6 Powerful strategies for deeper learning in your classroom

Schindler, Christine

ET

Martinez, M.R. (2019). 6 Powerful strategies for deeper learning in your classroom. (Teacher Thought) Retrieved from https://www.teachthought.com/learning/6-powerful-strategies-deeper-learning-classroom/

Summary: The article is an introduction to Dr. Monica Martinez’s book “Deeper Learning: How Eight Innovative Public Schools are Transforming Education in the Twentieth-First Century”. Dr. Martinez argues that the traditional method schools are teaching middle school and high school students-through rote memorization in a structured environment- is not the path to developing critically thinking, engaged students with excellent communication skills. The way forward is through self-directed learning using six identified teaching strategies.

  1. Connect: Create a community of learners
  2. Empower: Activate students to lead their own learning
  3. Contextualize: Use human themes
  4. Reach: Network beyond school walls
  5. Inspire: Personalize the learning
  6. Wire: Make Technology the servant, not the master

Evaluation: While the article is brief, the strategies as presented, are clear & concise in direction and format.

Student Agency for Powerful Learning

Dilworth, Marianne

ET

Williams, P. (2017). Student agency for powerful learning. Knowledge Quest, 45(4), 8-15. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1136307.pdf

In his article “Student Agency for Powerful Learning,” Williams defines student agency, and then explores how school librarians are uniquely qualified to nurture this attribute in students. Williams states that students develop agency when they have a strong sense of personal integrity and efficacy. When students demonstrate respect for themselves and others, and feel empowered to act, they are more likely to take responsibility for their learning. Fostering student agency requires a pedagogical power shift away from traditional models of education.

Williams offers some practical suggestions for school librarians to lead the way. These suggestions include encouraging recreational reading, and collaborating with students on library design. To develop student voice, students can create books or artwork that become part of the library’s collection. Having students then cite their own work gives them a sense of ownership and identity as a creator. Williams argues that using these strategies to establish a collaborative, student-centered learning environment will help students ultimately become successful agents of their learning.

I found this article to be an interesting and engaging overview of the concept of student agency. A school community that aspires to build a learning commons, must first have a strong program that builds student agency. I like that Williams makes the clear distinction that encouraging student agency does not mean that he is advocating for an anything goes educational model. Instead, he states that structures and guides must be put into place that allow student creativity and voice to flourish.

How AR and VR Can Make Students Laugh and Cry Out Loud – and Embed Them in Their Learning

Michelle Furtado

ID

McMahon, W. (2018). How AR and VR Can Make Students Laugh and Cry Out Loud-and Embed Them in Their Learning. EdSurge, 28. https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-08-28

This article discusses a teacher’s experience using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) hardware and software to teach English lessons in a College class. The teacher purchased forty AR headsets and used them to create lessons in which students could experience literature in innovative ways. As an example, for a study of poetry and lyrics he had them visit a U2 site which demonstrated interaction with a worldwide community in song creation and performance. Students were then asked to share their experiences and reflect on them. Students reported a higher level of emotional engagement in their learning than they had without the technology. After the lessons, the students were challenged to create products that would be useful using the software and hardware. They had to write up their proposals and present them to a panel of venture capitalists.

The article is a useful one, given the movement toward AR and VR technology. Students are already interacting with the world through technology with such games as Minecraft and Fortnite. This article discusses the value of incorporating immersive technology into teaching. The problematic portion is, of course, the current cost of such technology. While this may not be a viable option today in most k-12 public schools, the cost will probably come down in the years to come. AR and VR will no doubt allow more lessons to achieve the Redefinition level of SAMR technology integration.

For your consideration: An Outlier

Solomon, Samantha

Ullman, R. (2018). No, Teachers Shouldn’t Put Students in the Driver’s Seat. Teacher Teacher. Retrieved 26 September 2018, from https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2018/09/05/no-teachers-shouldnt-put-students-in-the.html

Summary: This opinion piece is written by Richard Ullman, a 29 year veteran of teaching in public high schools. In the piece Ullman defends the practice of teachings using direct instruction to communicate complex skills and concepts to students. He feels that the pendulum has swung too far towards a pedagogy based on “equat[ing] cosmetic engagement with actual learning.” He argues that educational trends are dictated and propelled by people who are removed from actual classrooms, and that as a result, the current trends around game-based learning and student driven learning actually don’t improve student outcomes. He points out that “even though the classroom looks dynamic, students appear to be busy, and the right boxes get checked during classroom observations, achievement gaps don’t close.” Ullman argues that traditional, teacher-centered instruction does work, but that confirmation bias causes experts to ignore the merits of this style in favor of chasing educational fads.

Evaluation: It’s not that I agree with Ullman’s strong preference for teacher-centered instruction, but I do think it is important to acknowledge what people who might be out of this moment’s mainstream might be thinking. I absolutely feel that there is a place for more traditional, direct instruction in classrooms and school libraries, but I also think that it has to be blended with more engaging, student-centered techniques to fully resonate and connect with students and truly enhance their learning.