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.
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:
- Set design and location
- Software and Hardware needed
- Assigning roles; strengthening partnerships within peer groups.
- 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.
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.
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!