Twenty-First Century Skills in education have become very important in making certain our students are Career and College Ready. Those skills weld the 3Rs: core academic subjects as defined by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and 21st century themes and 4Cs: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity and innovation. While some components such as Global Awareness directly focus on the teachers, some areas such as “Deeper Learning” directly focus on the students. Students are being given more opportunities to illustrate their perspectives and research skills while better understanding global and cultural diverse issues. According to DeeperLearning4All.org, more than 500 schools around the country are currently implementing deeper learning. These schools create environments that allow students to delve more deeply into understanding core content and use that knowledge to communicate effectively, solve problems more thoughtfully, think critically, and reflect individually about their learning. These practices have led to positive student outcomes.
The results of the American Institutes of Research 2014 study found that students in deeper learning schools graduated from high school and attended selective colleges at higher rates than comparable students in non-deeper learning schools. Click here to see a video on “What Deeper Learning Looks Like".
Highly effective educators have always provided deeper learning, using innovative approaches to delivering rich core content to students allowing them to learn and demonstrate their understanding of what they learn by applying it.
Six Competencies of Deeper Learning Framework
According to the Hewlett Foundation, the deeper learning framework includes six competencies that are essential to prepare students to achieve at high levels.
1. Master core academic content
2. Think critically and solve complex problems
3. Work collaboratively
4. Communicate effectively
5. Learn how to learn
6. Develop academic mindsets
As stated by Alliance for Excellent Education, rigor and challenging work is essential for deeper learning. This is why Performance Assessments, Project-Based Learning and Common Core Standards can be used to increase deeper learning and student outcome. Visit here for more ideas on “Transforming” schools to better use these strategies.
Expert Meyer notes, performance assessments must be “authentic”. Performance is “authentic” to the extent it is based on challenging and engaging tasks which resemble the context in which adults do their work. In practical terms, this means that an authentic task or assessment is one in which students are allowed adequate time to plan, to complete the work, to self-assess, to revise, and to consult with others.
Expert Grant Wiggins contends that three factors determine the authenticity of an assessment: the task, the context, and the evaluation criteria. An authentic task is one which requires the student to use knowledge or skills to produce a product or complete a performance. Based on this definition, memorizing a formula would not be an authentic task; however, using the formula to solve a practical problem would be.”
While we are grateful for awesome schools and their contributions to the quality of education for our children, we must continue to develop our leadership to provide the vision and innovation necessary to continue moving forward. In Edweek, according to Carmen Coleman, director of Next Generation Leadership at the Center for Innovation at the University Of Kentucky College Of Education, in order to reimagine learning, schools must – among other things – reimagine the role of leaders. To transform suggests that you begin to reimagine what could be, rethink what you accept as standard and create something new.
Even though “deeper learning” is not a new concept, its application must be embedded in our curriculum standards and be a rudimentary component of students routine projects in new and exciting ways. Education must involve personalized learning and provides real life applications that engage students in Big Picture Learning. Deeper learning is the pathway to deeper success.