Much is said about the need for rigor and deeper learning in today’s classrooms, but what steps must be taken to ensure that all students have this opportunity? In recent conversations, one common theme is the need for clarity — a clear vision based on an agreed upon definition.
In Deeper Learning: Beyond 21st Century Skills, Rick and Becky DuFour state it clearly. Deeper learning is defined as “the skills and knowledge students will need to succeed in a world that is changing at an unprecedented pace. Deeper learning prepares students to master core academic content, think critically and solve complex problems, work collaboratively, communicate effectively, and learn how to learn” (25).
Unpacking that to see how it applies in practice is far more complex than merely offering a definition, but Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie have provided a great starting point in their work Visible Learning for Literacy, Grades K-12. In it, they talk about the crucial need for skills to be developed before moving to deeper learning and that the ultimate goal is the ability of students to transfer or apply what they have learned to new situations. (For more on the book and the strategies, watch Corwin’s webinar.)
Doing things differently will require effort by all stakeholders. A reflective practice will help determine if what’s happening in the classroom is giving students the opportunities to dive more deeply into the learning and then to be able to do something with what they know. As teachers and administrators work together with a coherent vision, change is possible.