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New Deeper Learning in the Classroom Blog

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    April Hattori

Expeditionary Learning School Designer Steven Levy next week will launch a blog focusing on Deeper Learning in the Classroom.  He has taught every grade level from kindergarten through college in 28 years of teaching and has been a School Designer since 1994.  An award-winning educator and author of the book Starting from Scratch, Steven is passionate about inspiring teachers.  He shares his vision for his blog below:

Three examples from my life this past week frame the purpose of this blog:

  • Playing golf in Florida with my brothers. It took me two strokes to go 470 yards, and four more strokes to go the remaining 60 feet to get it in the hole.
  • Driving to a concert in Boston. It took me 15 minutes to go 12 miles to the city, and 45 minutes to go one more mile to the theater.
  • Helping a friend pack up to move. It took us two hours to get all the large furniture into the truck. The rooms looked bare. But four hours later, we were still organizing and boxing all the little stuff in various drawers and closets throughout the house.

This blog is not for golfers, drivers or movers, but rather for teachers, specifically teachers who are seeking to provide deeper learning experiences for their students. Expeditionary Learning and other partners in the Deeper Learning Community of Practice have developed some terrific tools that describe the principles of deeper learning, rubrics to measure it, structures to promote it, and models of complex projects that demonstrate it. Examine all those resources, and you might think “we are just about there.” And true, we have indeed come a long way. But then there are those tricky putts, those knotty traffic jams, the details in those drawers – or for the teacher, the daily lessons, where they are trying to get students to understand specific ideas - deeper learning at the conceptual level.

The obstacle to conceptual understanding is often not the complexity of the idea, but rather the failure to identify the basic (though often profound in their simplicity), foundational concepts necessary to grasp it. We can take for granted that our students have this understanding and miss the opportunity to provide the concrete experiences that combine with abstract ideas to produce meaning.

I have the privilege of working with many teachers, designing and observing lessons together. In this blog I will describe some of our conversations about uncovering essential concepts that support student understanding. I hope readers will contribute their own experiences so we can learn from one another and promote deeper learning in our classrooms.