Keeping up with The Pedagogies

There are more resource links than Black Friday discount deals this week on COETAIL! Nevertheless, I managed to wade my way through them all, like grinding through levels in World of Warcraft, to come up with a coherent vision of how what it looks like in my practice, and how I might assess it.

Assessment is lagging way behind all of these new pedagogies – taken from A Rich Seam, so of course, it needs to change. Assessment tools are seemingly (quite) a few steps behind their popular cousin – pedagogy. When I worked in the UK the government* was so obsessed with measuring so-called learning data (GCSE results, value-added, SAT scores etc) that it created an environment of teaching to the test. I do believe in setting high standards for myself and my students, but this was clearly to the detriment of deep learning. In the end, it was one of the (lesser) reasons why I left a country that I had taught in for 11 years – as I cared more about learning than results; much like the overwhelming number of teachers that I taught with over the years. *There is a trend now in the US of universities dropping SAT and ACT scores as part of the admissions process; The Washington Post.

Assess and Measure

So, how am I to assess and measure the (positive) impact of deep learning? To begin with, I will use the following quote, from A Rich Seam,  “Help students to become their own teachers. This will most certainly help them long after they have finished school! I do think this is even more important in international schools, given the transient population of those communities. Moreover, this quote is perfect for building autonomy in our students – but I should be aware of giving too much, which could hinder deep learning (Table 4: Effective vs. Ineffective New Pedagogies).

The key to this process is to build up solid learning partnerships with students. Thankfully, as our school uses the MYP, we write our own units and can adapt the rubrics to suit those – therefore building up our assessment competency. 

Asortment of different learning tools
Photo by Fleur on Unsplash

In order to effectively assess I will co-create the rubric with students based on what the final product needs to do. Part of this assessment will, of course, cover the all-important content and creativity, it will also include releasing the product to the real world and measure its success in that, uncontrolled environment. 

Deep Learning in Practice

Out of the different pedagogies and methods, I have used the following:

  • Design thinking: I used this extensively during our school’s Grade 7 coding week when we asked students to create a language learning game using Scratch. It epitomized all the Phases laid out by Spencer – I created the learning process from my own experience as a Computer Science student many years ago. I have documented the week in a website which we shared with the students that week.
  • Another example of design thinking would be in the current *media unit that I am co-teaching; students have to produce a music video. Here is a quick breakdown of the learning process, using the design thinking process:
    • Phase 1 = To build awareness we watched professional and student created music videos. We build up a working knowledge of different cinematography techniques. 
    • Phase 2 = Interview students from Grade 10, to find out what went well and what could be improved. Analyze, in detail, a music video, to see how to use the cinematography techniques effectively.
    • Phase 3 = Plan and start to create the music video including:
      • Storyboarding
      • Props
      • Set design and location
      • Software and Hardware needed
      • Assigning roles;  strengthening partnerships within peer groups.
      • Editing
    • Phase 4 = Create a prototype of the video and get feedback on this form:
      • Peer groups
      • Other audience groups, students in other year groups and beyond the school. 
    • Phase 5 = Highlight any issues and fix them. Repeat until satisfied with the end product. 
    • Repeat Phases 1-5 as necessary.

*Please note that this is unit will serve as my Course 5 project.

  • Challenge Based Learning & Project Based Learning; Students had to come up with a solution to real-world problems in the community i.e. how can we recycle more, or how can we create an AQI weather monitoring alert system, to inform students when the AQI reaches unhealthy levels for recess.
Picture of people video gaming
Photo by Magnus on Unsplash

I also want to try out the Gameful Design process during this unit. For example, take rubric scores in the MYP. They are graded from 0-8, now as long as my students are aware of how to progress through the grades, they know what progress looks like – kind of like leveling up as it where. I will think very carefully about which elements of this I can incorporate into my Course 5 project. My favourite quote from the article by Kevin Bell is how the post-millennial generation (Gen Z?) are intrinsically motivated to engage with systems that are intentionally designed to be hard to not engage with! Just think about that statement for a moment…imagine tapping into that desire to interact from a learning perspective. It is simply bewildering.

Deep Learning & Partnerships

I have spent a lot of time building up partnerships with my students, particularly when it comes to leading by example. Whenever I ask my students to do something new, first I model it for them – to build up trust. I think this is working well, as they see me as being more accessible. But this needs to go beyond the classroom. For example, I regularly go to after school activities that I am not directly involved with. I go there because I want to go and celebrate the things my students are interested in! Admittedly I also go because I need photos for the yearbook; I share this point with my kids as well.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: From the six core competencies of deep learning, I think that I promote collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and character, effectively in the classroom. I do this through small team-building exercises, cooperative learning structures, and group-led projects. For example:

  • Round Robin – students sharing key-words on a given topic
  • Quiz, quiz, trade – students answering a set of questions based on a topic
  • Flipgrid – students working in groups to critique their peer’s work, and then work together to reflect on the feedback they received
  • Learning resource – students creating a learning resource for their peers; in last week’s post.
Person looking up into the stars
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Weaknesses: I would like to strengthen both (global) citizenship and creativity in the classroom. In terms of citizenship, I want my media students to produce something that is much more in line with the global context of citizenship. Given the reality and negative impact we are having on our environment, I will get the students to create something meaningful that aligns with the message of doing something positive around climate change. Using some of the deep learning practices, I will first survey them to see issues they are most concerned about. By doing this, it should prompt my students into thinking more creatively about how best to come up with a solution. The possibilities are endless…and isn’t it just amazing to part of this fantastic journey our kids are taking!

2 comments to “Keeping up with The Pedagogies”
2 comments to “Keeping up with The Pedagogies”
  1. Hey David,

    Ha! You’re pretty funny… online. How come it doesn’t come through offline? 😜 Anyway, I was feeling the same thing about the number of resources we had this week! Easily tripled what we normally get for readings but I got through most of them or at least one on each method for deeper learning. Actually it was a good thing because reading some of them gave me some really great ideas on how to implement deeper learning for Course 5. I’m still using some of them to help me create my unit planner for the final! Even with the younger kids, I was doing something similar in regards to teaching to the test. Mostly it was the wording that was the most difficult for these kids. We have a lot of similar ideas and it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast the differences between lower school and upper school students and their work. I’m also planning on co-creating the rubric with the students and I want to make sure that we authentically share it with the global audience. I’m still working out the kinks but I’m hopeful!

    I liked the examples you gave with your experiences. It’s always so helpful to find concrete examples of theories. I think this is the best way to get teachers on board. Once they know about an idea or example, they’re so used to adapting that they can make it work for them. Wow, you are already starting on your course 5 unit! Good for you! I’m sure the effort you made in creating the partnership will come in handy in the next few weeks while you’re working on this final project. Good luck and I can’t wait to read about it!

  2. I agree that making digesting all the readings this week took a while. However, I found a common thread of immersion of students in whatever they are learning and that helped me stay afloat.

    I also want to try out Design Thinking for the unit on ‘Citizenship’ and ‘Different Forms of Government’ that I will be co-planning with a 7th grade Civics teacher. It should be exciting. I plan to go through the LAUNCH steps and make it as technologically rich as possible but leave the end product for students to explore.

    I agree that Gameful Design seems fascinating and I would also like to try it out. I have used a simulation game on refugees made by UNHCR. Check out: http://www.gamesforchange.org/game/against-all-odds/

    I also wanted to let you know that you should check out iEARN to connect your classroom with others classrooms across the world. They have a registration form where they check out your school (I think!). If you registered now it will come through probably sometime in January or February. They have a lot of classrooms that are working on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. That may fit in well with what you want to do in your classroom.

    Second, there is a yearly Compassion Summit that is held at the American Community School in Amman, Jordan. Students apply to go there for the three day event and teachers can apply to present or conduct a workshop. Do check out the school website to see if you or your school can join. I am not sure if this is just a Middle East community initiative or it includes other areas like China (for you). Students and presenters get to visit a refugee camp in Jordan as well. Good luck!

    I hope to hear how the Course 5 project goes for you and your class!

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