Real-Life experience is a hidden gem in education

Deep learning tasks require newly gained knowledge to be integrated with an already existing knowledge. Good deep learning tasks motivate and encourage students to broaden their knowledge to learn new concepts and information that they are going to be using in the real world.  Students have to apply new knowledge that supplements already gained knowledge and apply it in real-life situations (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning). Students learn by analyzing his/her own learning results, applying already gained skill in order to construct their knowledge. Students analyze their learning practices in order to enrich their knowledge as well as gain new skills. I prefer the real-life experience as the best way for learning. I personally wasn’t so much interested in history and geography, until I began traveling around the world. At the same time, I was interested mostly in the history of art, because of my passion to art itself. I could transfer my knowledge through paper, clay, or any other constructing material. I only learned so much about Baltics’ ancient history after I got experience of making my own historical copies of ancient ceramics. This means that every student needs special attention in order to dive deeper into learning new concepts as well as going beyond that knowledge.

What is critical is that in the everyday curriculum students become engaged in studying and addressing real-life issues whether they are local or global. (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning)

Learning goals for students

I believe that first of all students have to define their personal need for learning new concepts of developing better skills. Often students know their own weaknesses and strengths pretty well. Every school year our young learners set their personal goals for achieving better learning results. This is important if a student, for example, has reading difficulties and his goal is to develop better reading skills – such improvement will possibly accelerate the deep learning process in the future. Students have to take ownership of improving their learning skills as well. As the result, further success will follow up with the growing confidence of a student. Students then feel more confident learning together with a teacher as wells as classmates. Feeling more confident students are motivated to gain and create new knowledge in order to apply it for future learning. When students learn and create new knowledge being inspired by deep learning tasks, they also share the knowledge and experience with classmates and teachers this way, we all are learning together.

“Ideally, deep learning tasks develop both a teacher’s pedagogical capacity and a student’s learning capacity.” (A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning)

Invisible bias

Bias – Inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. (https://www.lexico.com)

According to Jacquelyn Whiting (Everyone Has Invisible Bias), students have to grow self-awareness as media literacy and communication skill necessary for civil discourse. As an educator, I have to take the role of a “diplomat”, who independently from personal opinion or biases has to demonstrate a purely neutral position regarding sensitive topics as well as encourage students for deeper investigation of any bias-related topic. I admit, this is not easy, because sometimes I am not sure if I, as an educator, am demonstrating an invisible bias by using my language. To avoid that, I, for example, try not to emphasize what girls have done better during the class in comparison to boys’ progress. It is not easy to react to everyone’s behavior equally, however, I always have a goal to treat all of my students equally. A teacher is a role model for students and teacher is responsible for a positive and cozy classroom climate, that directly impacts students’ learning results as well as students’ trust. If students don’t feel comfortable in the classroom, his/her learning might not be that successful as it could be in a friendly and cozy environment.

The age range of my students doesn’t exceed 11 years and I can say that students are about to form their vision, opinion, and biases based on news they hear on TV, however, students are often carrying experience from their families, and there are difficulties, that have to be taken care of. Students might barely realize the effect of an opinion brought from home being express publicly and how many people will be upset regarding that. This is the skill that students have to develop and be able to apply facts instead of someone’s biases. On the other hand, some invisible biases become visible on the playground, and sometimes students don’t do the right choices. Similar experience in the classroom environment might cause a ruining effect on the class and even worse – change a positive classwork climate to an unpleasant one. Sometimes it takes a lot of time for students to understand the value of appropriate communication and how it can be successfully used as a learning partnership.

Until we become aware of our biases, and how these attitudes and opinions emerge through the language we use, we can fall into what’s known as the bias confirmation trap—we see opinion with which we agree as fact and information with which we disagree as false. Jacquelyn Whiting (Everyone Has Invisible Bias)

 

Moral Imperative

moral imperative is a strongly-felt principle that compels that person to act. It is a kind of categorical imperative, as defined by Immanuel Kant. Kant took the imperative to be a dictate of pure reason, in its practical aspect. Not following the moral law was seen to be self-defeating and thus contrary to reason. (Wikipedia.org)

The importance of moral imperative in education is related to students’ equality when every student has the right of getting equal opportunities for learning as well as being respected as everyone else in the classroom, regardless of student’s country of origin or knowledge level (“The Moral Imperative” by Michael Fullan) All of the students have to get equal opportunities for learning and achieving skills. Therefore, deep learning tasks create opportunities to make the learning imperative happen. It is much easier to differentiate learning tasks for every student using technology because of a big variety of tools that very often are created for a learner of different skills and knowledge. Very often these digital tools are accessible in different languages, which is really useful in a multilingual environment. Moreover, when students can easily take ownership/leadership over their learning, digitals tools become a great support for better learning not only as individuals but also as being ready for learning together with other students.

Essentially, the goal of every education is to explain students the reasons and motives for learning, make sure a student understands what he/she has to learn, why, and what future consequences and benefits it might bring. Moreover, it is very important that educator helps the student to form his/her own opinion and view on things (which, of course, should be motivated and well supported by facts), but also – to take responsibility for his words and actions, while trying to defend or support his/her ideas.

“After I redesign my coding, digital design, architectural design… unit for students”

After reading this week’s material, I decided to redesign my digital design unit, that is integrated with math, when Grade 3 students learn area calculation concepts and after that, they use architectural design software (Planner 5D) in order to create a model of their dream house. During this unit, technology has been used for students’ better understanding of the purpose of learning area measurements, as a skill applicable in real-life. Technology is motivating students for deeper exploration of measuring areas because of its connection to a real-world, since similar software of architectural design is used by architects for designing houses we all live in.

The Goal of the deep learning task

After students define their learning goals, teacher should define deep learning goals for every task as well. Teacher defined goals have to be followed by clear expectations and criteria for students.

The goal of a redesigned unit and a deep learning task – students will learn how to calculate an area of any room/building and be able to estimate the length and width of real building areas. They will raise inquiry questions for finding the best ways to learn and apply their new knowledge for deepening it even more and, ideally, create something new in the area of design or engineering solutions. All of their thoughts students will document on a shared slide deck with pre-created templates. Students will use a variety of digital tools in order to design a digital design of a real size house. Students will use their research skills for gathering more relevant information for developing a house design using architectural design software. Students will be able to work in groups and respect each other by following essential group work rules. Students will accept a 3D designing challenge and make a scale model of the designed house and print it out using a 3D printer.

Real experiences beyond the classroom

For a learning partnership application, I will encourage students to think, who might know more about school area measurements. This way students will be able to interview our school janitors, who might possibly have some measuring tools and can demonstrate to students how it works. Therefore students will explore and measure some of the areas such as locker room, classroom, and more challenging – canteen. Results by every group will be compared in the classroom after that.  Moreover, students will do research and find out what measuring tools can be also used for an area measuring and compare to the tools borrowed from our janitors.

Partner with students in designing the structure or process of the task

Students will be able to take leadership of their learning by designing an action plan for further steps of the design process. They will make a plan of steps they have to do as a group in order to come up with the best house design. The teacher will assist and give advice to students when necessary.

An authentic choice for designing a deep learning assignment

To learn more about measuring ways and tools by researching, students will use a variety of digital tools. They will develop their design skills by creating a real hose model together with group mates. Therefore, students will be able to choose a challenge of designing a 3D model of their designed house and will create a scaled model, using a 3D designing online tool Tinkercad for later printing it out with a 3D printer.

Raise the bar for all students

Students will be encouraged to design a house and involve all of the team members. The expectations for the final design are for all students to participate in design projects and after students create a sketch of a house using digital drawing tools (Google Draw or Sketch.io). At least one of the elements or design solutions of each student has to be used in a final product. Students have to set clear group works rules, that all will follow in order to improve the learning process in a group.  Moreover, students are expected to actively participate in a measuring process as well. To track the progress of each group, students will fill in the provided slides. All of the expectations will be defined by students and teachers.

During this redesigned unit, I would like to keep the focus on several things:

Differentiation in this unit became possible with the usage of a variety of technology/digital tools for better support of students learning. All of the students must get equal opportunities to learn and apply gained knowledge while measuring areas.

The positive climate in the classroom as well as students’ communication and relationship working in groups. Students will come up with the group work rules/agreements, leaving behind all invisible biases and that will allow fluent collaboration and lead students to the goal of their mission. Students will put maximum effort into their group work and communication process and will achieve the best learning results as a team.

Real-life experience – during the learning process find as much as possible connections between real-life and learning concepts for even more efficient learning. This would be an example of a possible learning partnership. The idea of including janitors is to show how important everyone’s role is in our learning environment. I believe that for some students this will also be a good practice to leave invisible biases away.

Analyzing the results of learning – by learning new concepts students will analyze learned material in the group and will plan further steps for improvement of their final product.