Providing students with Deeper Learning Opportunities.

If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to attend a conference where Dr Ross Todd has been speaking, you will be au fait with the term “deeper learning”. Deeper knowledge and deeper understanding formed the basis of his presentation early in 2012 at our SLAV conference.

He has been an advocate for many years and offered many approaches, both small and more dramatic, to assist teacher librarians via “guided inquiry” to become the go-to people in their school. He tries to assist us in understanding the complexities of Guided Inquiry. The speaks about us helping students go beyond simply transporting information from one format to another to students transforming information into something new and meaningful to them.

The first is low level work and little or no effort is required. The second is high level work. Students will have to interpret data, establish a personal conclusion and reflect on what it all means. Transferring information into a more meaningful context means taking ownership and leads to deeper learning. The student will have changed the information according to the needs, understandings and prior knowledge of that student.

The curriculum and the tasks set by the teacher has a big role in developing this ability in students. Ross Todd has always advocated for teacher librarians to roll up their collective sleeves and assist teachers to develop the curriculum tasks that do this very thing.

We are a notebook school and teachers are expected to use the digital resources available in the best possible ways and therefore I was interested in the inforgraphic created by the people at Getting Smart. They write about learning (ranging pre-school to post school education) in the digital environment. They have a number of resources to help those in education  but the one I was looking at recently was the following paper that can be downloaded and is worth a read. The ideas would not be new to many but are well put:

“How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning” by Carri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark is a white paper that examines how key aspects of personal digital learning – common standards, next-generation assessments, blended learning, and affordable devices – can provide deeper learning opportunities for students.

They also created this accompanying infographic  ” that describes how deeper learning opportunities can be created for every student with personal digital learning tools”.

To ban or not to ban. Mobile devices in the classroom

I was reading a post (MP3 players in class) on the Grumpy Old Teacher blog. In this post the oft discussed topic of classroom use of MP3 players but it struck a cord with me. The idea of using the many and varied mobile devices that our students use (outside the classroom/school) in the classroom to enhance and enrich their learning in an engaging way seems a “no-brainer” to me.

This is an argument that seems to have been going on forever. At my school we have discussions about what various tools should be allowed in class on a yearly basis. In fact we had one in a meeting just a week ago!  There have been many arguments for appropriate use of phones, iPhones, MP3 players, etc. at my school. Many teachers would like the students to use their personal devices in classroom situations. These teachers see such tools as mobile learning devices and that if the students are engaged by their learning, find that they enhance learning experiences. The answer about what to do if a student does the wrong thing is deal with that student in a manner that is appropriate to the “crime”. In other words teach the students about appropriate use and their responsibility in the learning process. However other teachers prefer that they are banned from the classrooms because they see the devices as a distraction to learning. The decision is still left with our school leaders who, at the moment, are resistant to the change. Personally I believe that teachers should be allowed to decide their own position on these devices. It is also interesting to note that one of the reasons that teachers against mobile devices want the ban to be school wide is that they fear that their classes will be unfavorably compared to those that do. They want to teach their way, the ways they are comfortable with. This is a shame that, rather than reaching out to students and combining the best of their teaching with some of the newer learning options that students are familiar with, they prefer to ignore the outside world and the classroom seems the same as the one I learnt in 30 years ago…

Jenny Luca wrote a good post with the title “Adapt or die“. This is a very good post and worth reading but I must quote the final paragraph here:

“You only die if you don’t adapt”. In my mind, technology will never replace a good teacher, but good teachers need to understand how to use technology well to support good teaching.  For many, it’s time to start the process of adaptation.

The post also  pointed out another interesting TedTalk about sound: Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us. The post also mentioned a recently published TED Talk, that may have fuelled new arguments of those of us who, for instance, would like to have students listening to their music while they do their work. This video seeks to explain sound. By playing sound effects both pleasant and awful, Julian Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways. Some interesting facts about sound include information about noisy open-plan offices and the power of music, especially when used well. He describes the four major ways sound is affecting us all the time: physiological, psychological, cognitively and behaviorally. he discusses how each of these affects us on a daily basis. It is an interesting video that would be great at raising awareness about sound and that could be a good discussion starter about how sound can be used to help, motivate, manipulate or/and control. The more you understand about sound, the more control you have.

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