Thursday, January 31, 2013

Teachers and Deep Learning

Standardized test have been getting a bad rap for the past few years, and now educators are coming up with alternatives. Or at least to supplement them. Deep learning is starting to be introduced in education circles. Are you doing deep learning, or have you even heard of it?

What is Deep Learning?
Well, it would seem it would be the opposite of shallow learning. That is, learning something just because the teacher says to. Like learn the state capitals. Can you go any "deeper" than that? We will discuss that. But in short, deep learning means to go beyond just learning something superficial. To go deeper in the subject, most importantly, introduce a real world connection to what is being learned. Most beneficial deep learning would involve something hands-on.

Here are some examples of deep learning.
For state capitals, for example, a student could draw a floor plan of the departments of the state, and label how each department is run and interacts with the public. Students could even build a scale model. A classroom could put on a play on how a law gets passed in their state.

Now do you get the idea of deep learning?

If your science lesson was on solar power, students could construct a solar project that used solar power to perform some task.

Any subject, it would seem, can go deeper into learning.

Fractions, students could measure pieces of wood, then add up the total in inches using fractions. They could even construct a small model using plans that include fractions in measurements.

We can't give each and every example of deep learning and a school subject, but each teacher should be able to come up with something "deeper."

Here are some generals ideas for deep learning.
Write a script and put on a play, skit, video, or even puppet show. Build or construct something. Draw diagrams. Put together a scrapbook. Keep a journal. Make a game. Design and model costumes. Have a mock trial. Teachers, are ideas going around in your heads now?

Are there problems with deep learning? Yes. Your students will not be used to it, so you will need to guide and sell them. It can be time consuming, and might take away from facts and figures that are part of the core curriculum in them. So, you need to devise ways of getting the core curriculum involved as well. Some projects are better done in groups. You will encounter lazy students. Some parents might object that their child cannot complete things. As an experienced teacher, you should be able to handle all these problems.

Here's two last things on deep learning. One, if you were a GREAT teacher now, chances are you are already doing things like this anyway! It's just good teaching. Second, we will still need standardized tests in some form. It's just the way the real world works. Standardized tests are not going away, and they are actually used in may careers and licenses.

Deep learning should make teaching and learning not only more enjoyable, but more effective!

>> Free worksheets for classroom teachers.

>> Substitute teacher tips and tricks.

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