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Deep learning is the foundation on which I instruct my students; whether it is through the use of practical thinking skills, human dimension activities, and/or data gathering. There are other deep learning characteristics I implement daily, but these are most commonly used in my classroom. These strategies help to keep me focused on one common goal for all my students: to promote better learning outcomes for all students-ones that are transformational.
Engaging students actively in their own learning, and encouraging understanding of presented materials, should be the main goal of all educators. Moreover, I aspire to have students understand presented materials rather than just regurgitating facts verbatim. Trends toward encouraging creativity and understanding in students have highlighted the need for educators to be aware of different approaches to learning displayed by their students. As an advocate for student learning and success, I am obliged to help move students towards their goals through the implementation of deep learning strategies in the classroom.
Practical thinking skills are an essential part of my lesson planning. Students are most likely to be interested in classroom activities when they feel an emotional connection to the lesson on any level. Practical thinking strategies involve connecting curricular activities to real-life experiences, in hopes to evoke critical thinking. My goal as an educator is to ensure that all my students are higher-level thinkers, moving from basic knowledge level-based learning to evaluation level-based learning. Through problem-solving and decision-making activities, my students are capable to answer questions, make decisions, and solve problems successfully.
Human dimension activities also play an essential role in my lesson planning. By the time my students leave my classroom, they learn to take pride in their accomplishments, see the importance of community building, learn how to stay positive, and mentor and/or develop accountability among their peers. Students reach these goals because my classroom is a community of productive citizens working together to reach success. We are a chain, and we are only as strong as our weakest link. We have class meetings to discuss challenges we may face daily in the classroom in search for positive solutions. This brings stability to my classroom and makes each person accountable for their actions individually and collectively. Indirectly, students take ownership and pride in being a citizen of my classroom, and they succeed academically in the process.
Data gathering is incredibly significant to the way I plan my lessons. This deep learning characteristic gives my students the opportunities to practice and develop their abilities to make and record observations, research and record factual information, and report findings accurately and effectively. I never want my students to get in the routine of completing mundane assignments, to the point weekly instruction becomes predictable and uninteresting. Although there is a level of consistency in my classroom, I leave room for the unknown: scavenger hunts, searching the web, and other activities that involve movement and a voyage for knowledge. One thing I have learned is that when students search and find information independently, they are more likely to retain the information. If I were to lecture and have them copy notes daily, it would be agonizing for both my students and me. And ultimately, learning would not be transformational.
As you can see, deep learning is pivotal to successful teaching and learning in my classroom. When my students are learning and being transformed in the process, I feel accomplished. Implementing deep learning takes dedication and successful planning, but it is well worth it in the end. Besides, as an educator I am here to service the needs of my students and I plan to do just that for as long as I can.
What do you do to make sure your students are demonstrating deep learning characteristics in the classroom?