Category: Deep learning task

The Final Project of Course #4

As a possible final project of the Course 5, I’ve chosen one of the Music topics that we teach every year and integrate it with digital tools and concepts. Our music teacher is always preparing for the technology integration unit with a big passion. This time, I have decided to update a unit of Grade 3 music lesson. I chose option 1 – redesigning the unit.

Photo by ZEKERIYA SEN on Unsplash

Slides template for students

Unit Planner

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

I think this unit includes a lot of easily accessible tech tools that provide us opportunity to teach this unit online during the school closure. Moreover, I think this unit will be a great experience for students and will let them see how useful technology can be in learning music. I have used some of the deep learning strategies for students to learn how to learn.

How does this unit reflect your learning during COETAIL? How is this unit different from or similar to other units you have designed/facilitated?

Inspired by Game-Based Learning method, I decided to adopt this idea and design a template, looking similar to a game, that students will have to fill in. I’m still thinking of the design elements that would make the slides look like a game. In this unit I’ve only used some elements of the game like students receiving points after each completed activity. Also, learning stages are represented as missions that contain more steps to accomplish it.

How will the ISTE Standards for Students that you chose to enhance your students’ understanding of the content?

I believe that all of the chosen standards will enhance students to become independent learners, designers, responsible digital, citizens, successful collaborators and problem solvers. The list of standards is long, but it represents the complexity of the unit as well as a variety of tasks students will receive. Students will learn by figuring out how to accomplish the tasks and will become new knowledge creators as well. I would like to give students as much freedom as possible and encourage them to be not only individual learners, but also effective collaborators.

ISTE standards for students that I chose for this unit are:

1d: Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
2b: Students engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
2c: Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
3c: Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
4a: Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems
4d: Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
7a: Students use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.

What has influenced you the most during COETAIL and how is that reflected in this final project?

While creating this unit I could feel the influence of the newly learned teaching strategies, concepts and methods. In this unit I included concepts and teaching/learning methods that I’ve discovered during my COEATL journey over past 4 courses, such as  SAMR, CARP or collaboration between teachers, collaboration between students, research, rubric-based assessment, analyzing learned knowledge, reflection and, of course, new pedagogies with deep learning strategies.

Here is an example of how the SAMR framework will be used in this unit. 

Substitution – technology acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change. In this stage students will explore possible music genres by doing digital research. Gathered resources will be added to a slides template, prepared for students in advance, instead of getting this information from their teacher.

Augmentation – technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvements. Students recreate music genres using digital musical tools in Chrome Music Lab.

Modification – technology allows significant task redesign. Students record music using online screen recording tool like Loom.

Redefinition – technology allows creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. In this stage students will use online coding tool Scratch to design and authentically looking animation for their music pieces created in the previous step, using Chrome Music Lab.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Ideally, I would like to teach this unit at school, because this would provide wider opportunities for all of us to learn together.  Even though as I mentioned, the unit contains many digital tools that provide wide opportunities for teaching this unit online. COVID 19 is my only concern in facilitating this unit.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

The new unit requires to rethink teaching strategies that will help students take more ownership over their learning.

This new unit requires to explore more online games and resources, that I can include in the learning process to raise students’ motivation.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will need to develop even stronger collaboration skills while working with partners. Students will also need digital research, problem-solving and coding skills. Students will have to demonstrate a positive attitude and perseverance regarding independent learning.

What outcomes do you hope to see when students complete this unit? How will you know that students have learned the concepts?

I hope, that students will like this new teaching method and strategies, which will encourage them to learn new knowledge independently. Also, I expect students to help me in the future to design even better Game-based learning activity, that I will be able to use with other students.

I will know that students learned the concept from their reflections that are included after each mission.

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Deep Learning and Reality

The Assessment Challenge

A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

In the old pedagogy, you measure only content. As long as we keep measuring only content, we are setting students to learn just that. They need to have freedom to expand that content even further and be challenged to come up with new ways to do so. Erika Twani, CEO, Learning 1 to 1 Foundation. A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

The biggest challenge of new pedagogies and deep learning is the assessment. Here are some good examples of how educators are using specific ways of assessing the impact of the new pedagogies’:

The final product is being presented as an outcome of the learning process during which concepts are applied in real-life conditions.

Students take ownership of each other’s contributions assessment process.

Organizing public exhibitions of students’ final products of their learning process. Such experience prepares students for life beyond school.

“….you have to make work public – it’s absolutely critical to have public exhibitions. Standardized scores are not used in the real world.”

Learning impacted by deep learning tasks and new pedagogies has too many student skills and capacities to be measured. I would say, it is too difficult to create one general and specific system that could be used for measuring such complexity, containing learning process that may have too many variations of learning a concept. Students collaborate and learn together with other students, teachers are integrating subjects, so the goal, as well as the final product, might change the shape at any time during the learning process. However, ISTE standards often are a solution for assessing students’ learning progress in case of technology integration. ISTE standards measure students’ deep learning competencies (communication, collaboration, designing, learning, critical thinking, problem-solving, digital citizenship skills) that are necessary for a successful learner of the 21st century.

The effectiveness of the new pedagogies in this research is described as a learning process between students and teachers as partners in learning, that is motivating students for defining clear learning goals that drive students to achieve them by being autonomous learners. The teacher remains a mentor throughout the entire process. During the learning process, students are constantly analyzing their own learning as well as achievements. They manage to master the learning content, that is transferred to a creative process and even more – new knowledge creation, that is very much related to a real-life experience.

“New pedagogies should help students develop over time as independent, autonomous learners able to effectively design, pursue and achieve their own learning goals and personal aspirations as well as master curricular learning goals.”

According to John Hattie, “But this doesn’t happen by itself”. The teacher’s role in this process is to teach students to become teachers to themselves. This is an effort and time-consuming process. Students’ motivation for learning grows along with the attractiveness of the topic being learned. However, learning and achieving a common goal together might be much more interesting.

Challenge-Based Learning

During the CBL process students are provided with some really big real life-related problems, that encourage students to discover new ways and solutions in order to solve the problem. Such a learning process actively develops problem-solving skills. According to the Challenge Based Learning Implementation Report, young people like solving real-world problems. Such learning is a constant collaboration between teacher and student, that drives them to search and create possible ways of solving real-life problems and even more – take actions by publishing the solutions to a worldwide audience. Just like Greta Tumberg does 🙂 Moreover, students are working in collaborative teams on the research of the related topic, brainstorm strategies and solutions that are credible and realistic.

Augmented Virtual or Mixed reality?

Augmented Reality allows digital elements to appear over real-world photos or videos, sometimes with some limited interactivity between them. This allows students to design a digital object and add it to any real location or object.

The example of one of the projects developed by students at Harvard University demonstrated the opportunities for a great integration of AR in the curriculum. It allows a closer look at the objects of research as well as supplements possible missing elements, necessary for the project.

picture of augmented reality project

Credit: Harvard University

On the other hand, Virtual Reality opens wide opportunities for exploration and traveling around the world. Thanks to Google Voyager we can traveling around the world virtually and without any special equipment. The Google Expeditions app is an immersive learning and teaching tool that lets you go on VR trips or explore AR objects. Explore historical landmarks, go down to the atomic level, get up close with sharks, even visit outer space!

Mixed reality allows the design to combine AR and VR elements so digital objects can interact with the real world ( Interaction Design Foundation)

Gamification

The idea and method of using a game-based implementation in the curriculum for raising students’ motivation must be really effective if the game integrated with some of the learning concepts has been built very well. Such method provides student learning autonomy – in order to complete the level and be awarded for that, student has to do an individual research and use problem-solving and critical thinking skills. However, it takes a lot of steps to be thought through. To come up with a good gamification based activity, educator has to follow the include elements listed out in the table below.

For my Final Course 5, I am planning to use Game-Based Learning method. From my very first acquaintance with GBL, I was impressed by the projects of the BreakOutEdu educational platform, therefore, I would like to come up with something similar.

image of grid for assessing intrinsic motivators for gameful design

Source: Gameful Design: A Potential Game Changer

Project-Based Learning

PBL Works explains PBL project as a process, successfully developing better content knowledge and improving students’ critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. This is a long-lasting project that lasts from a week to a semester, and engages students with real-world problem solving or tasks related to complex questions.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is a mindset and approach to learning, collaboration, and problem-solving. (Desing Thinking in Education)

The design process as a framework allows identifying challenges, gathering information, generating potential solutions, refining ideas, and testing solutions. Moreover, this process is often cross-curricular and allows students collaboration that includes the steps like discovering, interpreting, ideating, prototyping and testing. It is great that teachers can access a lot of activities, workbooks, and curricular guides provided by Stanford or IDEO.

Blended Learning

BL method of delivery that combines the physical co-presence of teachers and students that occurs in traditional classrooms with the use of digital technology. (Universoty of Findlay)

During the pandemic period, this was one of our teaching methods that supported students learning online as well as those who were present in the classroom. For better support of students who learn at home, I was creating video recordings of concept explanations using Loom (an online screen recording tool). Google Classroom and Seesaw were really useful tools that supported BL as well.

New Pedagogies in my practice

“Neither have such measures been consistently integrated in a holistic measurement system that measures pedagogical practices, student engagement, and deep learning outcomes.”

Assessing and measuring the impact of deep learning pedagogies is a complex and complicated process that contains many steps and stages. I usually apply related ISTE standards to create rubric-based skills that are measured and describe all the stages of the deep learning task. I like the assessment examples described in A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning that have been used by other schools (such as a public exhibition). For similar purpose, I would use online tool ThingLink that allows creating a virtual exhibition room, which could include students works in any format: presentations, digital images, animations, etc. – anything that can be accessed online. The exhibitions could be accessible to the school community. Community members could evaluate and share comments on students’ creations on a  Padlet wall. Students could gather the comments and use them for further learning process.

In order to keep track of Lower School student’s progress during the year, our teachers have come up with Self Reflection rubric of the approaches to learning. Using this document, students can successfully rethink and reflect on their achievements over the last trimester or even school year. Here is an example:

The effective new pedagogies, such as collaboration between teachers and students as well as constant communication regarding the teaching curriculum is really useful. In our school, teachers have access to the curriculum maps of each other, which allows us to plan deep learning tasks as well as projects in advance. Organizing the collaboration meeting is another useful method – teachers gather in the same room and share their teaching plans as well as topics. Sharing this valuable information with each other provides an opportunity of coming up with new collaboration ideas. This way teachers focus more on students’ skills development as well as their abilities in mastering new content and creating new knowledge.

Collaboration between different grade levels improves students’ communication skills. For example, at the beginning of this school year we simulated possible school closure scenario when students were collaborating online on the joint research project about the topic of their choice, working together with students from grades 3-5. During this process students communicated via the chat integrated into Google Slides. Students were searching for information online using their research skills and discussing the process via chat.

My other “project”, that I am going to test out this week with my students is pair coding online. During the last several weeks students were learning how to code in the classroom and individually (as we got closed) using Hour of Code and Google CS Frist activities. Some students have demonstrated a lot of interest in these coding activities by coding on their own during free time as well. The activities include favorite characters, well known to students. Moreover, these activities allow students to learn on their own, because of well-built assignments. Of course, teacher help is necessary for the beginning of the coding unit enrollment. Students from different grade levels will be able to share previously gained coding skills online via Google Meet session in Break out rooms.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In order to support students’ autonomous learning, first of all, we agree on the learning goal that students come up with. After that, we review the goals and come up with an action plan in a form of a Google Keep to-do list. The list can be edited at any time when students gain new knowledge. During the school year, we review the plan and discuss further steps that would lead to the goals that have been planned. Keeping in mind their learning goals, students can build necessary knowledge as well as analyze and reflect on gained knowledge or search for new knowledge and, finally, come up with the newly created knowledge.

Right now, I’m am participating in the PBL project with our grade 4 students. Project topic – energy/collision. Students are split into groups of four and meet virtually as a group, together with their mentors – teachers. Goal of this PBL is to create a presentation/product that would make a social impact on our community. Right before the project, together with students we were experimenting on finding the best ways to use keywords and Google search operators that would narrow down our search results and find the most relevant information, that would support the project driving question – “How does our knowledge of energy, speed, and collisions help us save lives?”

The deep learning practices in our school

AR – Our students used their knowledge gained during the “Space” unit and after more research came up with the Augmented Reality project that included presentations with voice instructions about the interaction of the Sun to Earth. Students also learned to search for images online, respecting the author rights.

Another integrated project was a “Cat Walk” by grade 3 students. They demonstrated their french knowledge by recording each other’s catwalk and used their video editing skills to make a short video demonstrations with voiceovers describing the clothing items worn by students.

Developing the deep learning competencies

Creativity, communication, citizenship, critical thinking, character and collaboration are considered deep learning competencies.

Creativity is motivating me to always search and develop new ways of teaching the same concepts in a new format, as well as improve the content for students in order to make it even more attractive and easier to learn.

Communication between students and teachers in my role is essential. I must be aware of everyone’s needs and to come up with the best and even more effective practices for learning and teaching. Being able to communicate in various ways and using different tools for that is essential.

Citizenship is very important. I am trying very hard to be a fair citizen of the world, who cares about our planet a lot. I think the war and military is just a waste of time and resources, that could be used for so many important purposes. Poverty should not even exist in this 21st century.

Critical-thinking – the more you develop it, the more you understand how much more development it requires.

I think I support my students in becoming deep learners by presenting a concept in a variety of different methods as well as including different attractive and effective digital tools, that are often combined together. This motivates students to seek for the best results and be active deep learners.

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Learning Even Deeper

Developing deep learning strategies

“Technology, strategically integrated with the other core components of the new pedagogies, unleashes deep learning.” A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

My experience of using technology in teaching was while being the role of “Compters Teacher”. Every time I was teaching a technology concept, such as coding, text editing, digital design, I had a feeling of the concept itself being “naked”. Every time I had to think of a theme that could support learning on using digital tools. This way, I made my first steps of tech integration and began meeting teachers to discuss the curriculum content that could be supported by technology. Our school didn’t have a position of technology integrator yet and technology was as a separate subject. This role was obviously missing something. This was an example of how “technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far”. Learning about digital tools separately didn’t get us far until the establishment of the position of a technology integrator. After this improvement, everything has changed. Collaboration between teachers has significantly changed shape and structure of lessons. Student tasks became more complex and generally goal-directed, which brought new learning experiences for students. Such change has brought positive changes that motivated students as learners. Teachers had more experience of efficient collaboration and content creation that improved teaching methods. Therefore, students developed their skills in even more effective and attractive ways. Of course, it took a while to define the use of technology in the classroom as well as come up with the most effective strategies on how to implement technology integration with a certain subject. Technology integration is a  process requiring a lot of creative thinking. In general, I must admit that our teachers are very creative and very often their requests surprise me (in a positive way). Thanks to constantly improving digital platforms technology provides wider opportunities for effective learning.

“Without changes to the fundamental pedagogical models by which teachers teach and learners learn, technology investments have too often simply layered slightly more entertaining content delivery or basic skill practice on top of conventional teaching strategies that focus on the reproduction of existing content knowledge.” A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning

According to the same research by Michael Fullan Maria Langworthy, digital tools and resources create opportunities for new content discovery, global collaboration and new knowledge creation. Moreover, the effective use of technology allows teachers to improve students’ abilities to take leadership of their own learning. Technology provides an opportunity for students to learn collaboratively outside the school. This way students raise learning effectiveness.

When pedagogical and deep learning capacities are clearly defined and developed, digital tools and resources enable the:

1) discovery and mastery of new content knowledge;

2) collaborative, connected learning;

3) low-cost creation and iteration of new knowledge;

4) use of new knowledge with authentic audiences for “real” purposes;

5) enhancement of teachers’ ability to put students in control of the learning process, accelerating learner autonomy.

Today, technology as a separate subject almost doesn’t exist. It is more likely to be a tool for raising the efficiency of every subject being taught to students. Here are some examples of “Technology-Based Interventions in our school:

A digital book creation tool (WriteReader or Book Creator) supports student learning from age 4 – 11, which they use to improve their language, writing, research skills as wells as deepen understanding of science concepts, and much more. Our young students demonstrate high engagement while using this digital tool. They are using it surprisingly often – even during their free time. Students are actively developing their research skills for gathering relevant information for the digital book, this way taking leadership of their learning, designing and managing their own learning, because of their highly increased motivation. A very exciting moment for the students is sharing the created books in the classroom with the school community.

Photo by stem.T4L on Unsplash

Music – our students have a joint music and technology integration project, during which they learn various genres of music, make a music remix, and program Sphero robot to dance to that music. Moreover, they record a video of the dancing robot and edit it by adding pieces of the chosen music. Students learn, explore, experiment with variations of coding algorithms. This project lasts about 7 weeks. Students are highly motivated and involved during the entire project, they are looking for the best creative solutions in order to come up with the most original dancing robot.

French or other foreign languages – by using Thinglink during french class students create an interactive dictionary. For example, they add a picture of a bedroom and include tags explaining each item in the room in French. At the end of the project students visit each other rooms and learn new words by exploring peers’ rooms.

“It is therefore the pedagogy of the application of technology in the classroom which is important: the how rather than the what.”

One step back and two steps forward

Vulnerability – the quality of being vulnerable = able to be easily hurt, influenced or attacked. (Dictionary Cambridge.org)

If you are brave, you will fall, you gonna get hurt. (Brené Brown. “Daring Classrooms”)

Brené Brown in her speech (Brené Brown. Daring Classrooms – SXSWedu 2017) has emphasized four main skill sets of teaching courage in the classroom – Vulnerability, Clarity of Values, Trust, Rising Skills.

According to Brené “no vulnerability – no learning”. It is very important to create shame resilient classroom environment. Otherwise, students who are closed inside themselves are no longer learning. Students have to learn how to get up after failure or experience of shame in the classroom. Being able to admit being guilty because of not putting enough effort into learning is a part of being vulnerable. Without being vulnerable, we can not learn and teach empathy.

“Learning is inherently vulnerable and it’s like you’ve got a classroom full of turtles without shells.”

I’m teaching courage by emphasizing students’ mistakes as the best way of learning. I always encourage students to make mistakes and learn from them. This way I am teaching students courage for failing, backing up, and going forward. Sometimes, I see students crying while learning a new coding concept and I simply explain that this is part of the learning process. Mistakes are important, we can’t avoid them as well as we can not be experts of a new concept once we begin learning it. Just being a human I am vulnerable. Sometimes I understand my mistakes in teaching. Then, I admit the mistake in front of my students and sometimes even look for their support. It’s because we are learning together. I like learning empathy, a different understanding of the world surrounding us, creativity, courage from my students. It’s great to be different and special.

Dialogical learning

Paulo Freire describes five ideas that he believes are important for dialogue:

  1. Humility – according to Paulo Freire, “Dialogue cannot exist without humility”. I will always remember the words of one of the professors of my pedagogical study – “You have to manage to raise yourself to the level of a child”. I am always considering my students being equal humans and sometimes even higher. We, adults, have lost so much of what we had while being children – the courage of being silly, never-ending energy, curiosity and so much more.
  2. Hope – “…believing in students is a core part of instruction and learning.”  This is an invisible process, that is happening while learning. I “keep my fingers crossed” every time we learn a new concept. When we fail, I’m looking for other more effective ways of teaching it. This way I improve my teaching abilities.
  3. Faith -“…having faith in students can instill a true and profound sense of self-worth and help them to value themselves in all future relationships.” I don’t think learning can be successful without faith and trust. Students trust me when they know that I trust them, and this way our learning journey gets started.
  4. Love – Students always subconsciously analyze and feel us – adults. When we teach with love and passion, they learn the same way. The effect is reversible.
  5. Critical thinking – “students will not think unless we approach them with an openness and a desire to learn from them.”  In my classes, I love using inquiry-based activities to encourage students to think of the concept from different perspectives. This trait is essential in learning research strategies. I teach my students to be skeptical about what they read online and always look for more resources of information. Similar rules can be applied to the real world.

These traits can be demonstrated through classroom activities. By teaching digital citizenship skills  I encourage my students to think of positive sentences that describe rules of becoming a responsible digital, citizen.

My favorite practice is to let students take the teacher’s role and help classmates learn. We all are different and see the world differently, so learning from each other opens new horizons and points of view on the same things. No matter what age you are.

Research is a key to the future

While teaching research, I always discuss with my students the importance of this process for their future. Students have to gain this skill and develop it further in high school, college, university, and future “real life”. How can you buy a good car without making research? How can you bake a delicious cake, without analyzing a list of different recipes?

Digital research is one of the most popular methods for learning. However, there are way more things to learn to make regular “Googling” an effective research tool. While teaching students valuable searching tips, I encourage them to look deeper and think the way the search engine “thinks”. We are looking at the possible connections between search results and how we can find results that are not showing up for us, just because of our location. Why? How do the ads work? Why do we all get different results by typing the same keywords in search? This also develops a better understanding of digital literacy among students. Being digitally literate opens opportunities for being self-taught.

Changes

After rethinking this week’s reading, I will focus more on the creation of deep learning assignments for students, as well as meet teachers and discuss possible changes of students’ activities, that could be related more to deep learning experience. I will offer more ideas that would allow students to learn from real-life situations. I’ll rethink and develop teaching plans and assignments based on the SAMR framework for learning. Students are different as well as their abilities to learn and it is amazing how much technology allows us to differentiate learning material for students.

I was really inspired by this great article by Dr. Monica R. Martinez (6 Powerful Strategies For Deeper Learning In Your Classroom), who described six powerful strategies for deep learning in the classroom.

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

I think that students can learn together even more effectively. Sharing knowledge and working together towards one goal brings really great results. One of my goals for the next year is to gather a group of students who could help teachers and students solve various problems with technology in the classroom. Students will come up with common goals on how to help teachers in the classroom when a technology-related problem occurs. Any student willing to learn more about technology and take the role of “tech support” in the classroom could join the group. It should be cool to get a role like that.

Giving a real-life experience for students is so important. Students are much more motivated when they see the connection between learning concepts and their application in real-life. If we are learning to code, where can we use it? For example, we can program a robot that is cleaning our house. Or program a spaceship that would fly to Mars. It’s all about programming. I would like to relate my teaching concepts to real-life situations as much as possible.

As Susan McCray, a teacher from Casco Bay High School states, “Everything is related. Everything matters, and we are all working all the time to help them [students] see the connections.”

As I’ve mentioned before, without integration with other subjects, technology doesn’t have the power as it could. Moreover, students participating in integrated classes accelerate their learning process because of better and faster understanding. Connections help learn.

 

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Becoming a Designer of a Deep Learning Task

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.

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