Specialist Blog–Deep Learning

What building blocks resonate with you after exploring the concepts of Motivation and Deeper Learning?  

I really liked seeing the emphasis on collaboration in all of the examples in the video, especially the vehicle building and the puppet creation. Collaboration is a building block that I have been making an active effort to include more in my lesson design because it creates engagement in students, is motivating, and is a key life skill.

How can you apply this new learning to your specialty area and daily teaching practices? In what ways can you build the 5Cs in your delivery of instruction?

I think the first teacher said it best: “If everybody’s engaged, then everybody is learning as much as possible.” When my lesson design encourages collaboration and critical thinking, it is both supporting student learning and helping students learn to (and want to) direct their own learning.

In the library, my end goal is always to make myself (mostly) unnecessary to students. I want them to be able to navigate the physical and virtual collection independently, to want to read the collection for personal and academic interests, to be able to choose appropriate texts for themselves, and to know how to conduct research independently (ask questions, search for information, find answers and share their learning with others).

By designing activities that are high-interest for my students (for example, an online resources scavenger hunt they complete with a partner that includes them researching a question they want to know the answer to), I am making the standards personally relevant to them and asking them to learn how to navigate the sometimes complicated give-and-take that comes with working with someone else. Every time we do an activity like that, collaboration comes a bit more naturally and they can learn to recognize the value of working as a team. They are also more likely to remember the research skills they practiced because they used them to do a task that was meaningful to them.


PBL Hacks

One of the challenges I have encountered in using PBL is realizing, once we are knee-deep in an activity, is helping students develop the interpersonal skills to work collaboratively on a problem-focused project. The impasse may be different for every group, so while I might model and coach students through using some skills, sometimes I realize too late what skills students need to build. Thus I really liked the emphasis in hack 2 on harnessing the dissonance and repeatedly emphasizing for students what effective collaboration looks like, sounds like, and feels like. I thought about creating a list (for my use) for each category so I can track what I am working on with students.

I also really liked hack 8, “Reserve the Right to Mini-Lesson.” By reflecting on a PBL with informal assessments of students’ progress through a project, mini-lessons are absolutely appropriate. When I was in the classroom, mini-lessons were sometimes difficult for me because I had difficulty compressing my teaching points and student practice into a small chunk of time. I’ve gotten much better at that in my current position (in fact, much of my teaching is a mini-lesson!) and I appreciated that the author emphasized that direct instruction can still have a place in a PBL model.