Most things that we value in life, the things that shine with the highest quality, take time: love, friendship, home construction, food-and great stories-they all require time,” – Paul Salopek. (IndiaToday.in)
Inspiration for this week: The Out of Eden Walk
Do you know Paul Salopek? He’s one of my heroes. He’s been walking across the world since 2013 in a project funded by National Geographic Magazine. His journey, called “Out of Eden” is “a decade-long experiment in slow journalism. Moving at the beat of his footsteps, Paul is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours.” (Natgeo.com).
For a quick overview of what Paul is doing, check out this video that he made when he was just getting started. He began his walk in Ethiopia and is now in China after getting flown out of Myanmar a few months ago (he got stuck there because of the military situation and COVID).
Paul visited our school when he walked through New Delhi in May 2018. He told the students that it was important to pay attention to one’s surroundings, to get to know people who are different from you and to try to always keep an open mind.
I mention Paul here because his walk values the journey over the destination. What matters the most is not the endpoint, but the detours he takes and the conversations he has along the way. And this maxim has been said a million times before and is probably one of the biggest cliches out there, but it really is true. If the final stop is merely a dot on a map, why the hurry to get there. Seriously? Paul’s walk exemplifies this ethos clearly and powerfully.
By now you are probably saying, “Ok Megan, I get it, Paul is awesome. But how does this all relate to COETAIL and Deep Learning?” Well, let me tell you.
Slowing Down to promote Deeper Learning:
When we slow down, we are able to go for depth instead of breadth. Just like Paul, we are able to, as he said, “repair certain important connections burned through by artificial speed, by inattentiveness.” Instead of a crazy rush to “cover” as much material as possible, we can take our time and build strong reading, writing, critical thinking, and analysis skills. We can focus on the process over the product, pay more attention to the individual needs of the learners, and be more reflective along the way.
Traditional styles of education relied upon traditional assessment methods (ie. quizzes and tests). But, as was pointed out by Michael Fullen and Maria Langworthy, “the kind of deep learning that new pedagogies foster cannot be assessed by traditional standardized exams.” (Chapter 5, A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning). Fullen and Langworthy further state that the new assessments should measure “the full range of students’ deep learning competencies:
students’ mastery of the learning process, including their ability to master new content;
students’ key future skills, including their abilities to create new knowledge using the collaboration and communication skills necessary for high-level value creation;
students’ proactive dispositions and levels of perseverance in the face of challenges; and
the effect of students’ work products on intended audiences or problems.
Effective assessment of the new pedagogies measures learning mastery rather than content mastery. It’s not what you know, but how you learn that counts. See the chart below for more on that.
What this philosophy looks like in action is going slow, and giving students more ownership over the learning and assessment process. It’s seeing assessment and feedback as a continual and ongoing thing, as opposed to something that just occurs at the end of a unit. It might include students:
- co-creating assessment criteria at the start of a unit
- giving each other feedback on their work along the way
- assessing their own work against a rubric and coming up with a plan for improvement
- revising and editing their work to make it better
- documenting their work in a process journal
- sharing their work with an audience and receiving feedback from that audience
It’s not about cramming for a test. It’s about talking about what you are doing, setting goals and thinking about the next steps, and self-assessing. It’s very metacognitive and not at all concerned with getting an A+. In fact, there probably isn’t even an A+ at all since the learning is seen as a journey that occurs along a continuum and everyone is moving forward at their own pace. The rewards are intrinsic rather than extrinsic.
Where does all this leave me and my classroom? How does it apply?
The readings for COETAIL this week had a lot of links to approaches that promote deep learning (ie. challenge-based learning, project-based learning, and game-based learning). At the heart of all of these approaches is a commitment to creating learning experiences that are meaningful, joyful, and interesting. Just like Paul’s walk! Sorry, I couldn’t resist bringing it up again. It’s just such a good metaphor for everything:)
I love this graphic that shows what needs to be in place for Deep Learning to occur in a classroom. It really all boils down to this.
This leads me to the last beat of this post. I have been thinking on and off for the past month about what I want to do for our Course 5 project. We will be documenting our own learning journey teaching a unit that encompasses all that we have learned so far in COETAIL about Deep Learning and Educational Technology.
I am pretty sure that I want to create a unit centered around digital storytelling. I’ve been inspired by Paul Salopek. I’m leaning toward podcasting, but I’m not sure yet. I might let the students choose between a few mediums for sharing their stories.
I like these questions from the Wikipedia entry on Digital Storytelling in terms of anchoring the work that I want to do with my students.
What do you think?
What do you feel?
What is important?
How do we find meaning in our lives?
So, help me out readers. Have you used Digital Storytelling in your classrooms? What did it look like? Any advice would be much appreciated.