Going through the readings this week, I was thinking and reflecting on deep learning, ‘moral imperative’, and biases. Jackeline Whiting’s article ‘Everyone has invisible bias’ focuses on how our biases emerge through how we talk hence the language we use. We all carry on beliefs and knowledge from our families that inside of our circle are accepted. Many times, our beliefs are not going to be correct for the others, that are the reasons my mother told us not to talk in public about religion or politics because they can cause conflict. But, what happens if as an educator we have to talk about controversial issues? Especially, if you are working in a totally different culture from yours. Last 8 years, I’m working in India and I have learned about their vision of the world and life. It brought to my mind, an IB position paper that I read sometime back East is East and West is West written by George Walker. It explains about culture in Southeast Asia and how the IB learner profile was more ‘West oriented’ but also promotes its adaptation to the culture, belief systems, and traditions.
Once, I was working with a class with the TDT: How we express ourselves, focused on Literature. At the library, we were organizing a penpal program with a school in Mexico to learn about mythology, as both countries have a rich tradition and culture. One of the resources used to understand Indian mythology was this TED talk by Devdutt Pattanaik East vs West: the myths that mystify. His talk was an eye-opener about things that I was observing from my western perspective, assuming ‘western’ reasons. I was judging from “my world” not considering “the concept of the world in India”. From that day, I have learned to understand another way to see things, a different perspective of life, and value each of them. As a brief example: I appreciate the value that they give to family and the respect for the elder ones. On the other hand, I have noticed the vertical structure inside organizations and what being the boss means in Southeast Asia.
As an IB librarian, we encourage students to be open-minded, find different perspectives, look for opposite viewpoints and have a voice to express their ideas even if it’s a controversial issue. We boost them to think critically and question themselves. TOK is one of the big opportunities to touch topics that not will be easily considered for discussions such as religion, faith, ethics, science, communication, etc. Also, IB Diploma teachers are encouraged to promote these discussions blended on their topics. However, it’s a challenging task to shift from the role of teachers’ as knowledge keepers to facilitators.
About deep learning
“It is through deep learning tasks that students in the new pedagogies gain experience in developing their aspirations, in taking the initiative to learn, in learning to persevere through tough challenges, and in doing real knowledge work. In short, these tasks form the practical bridge between learning and doing.”Michael Fullan
Michael Fullan and Maria Langworthy explain on their paper ‘Towards a new pedagogies: for deep learning” new roles for teachers as activators alongside students in the (de)construction of understandings. Teachers will assume new roles:
- Designers of learning experiences.
- Source of human, social, and decisional capital in the learning experience.
- Partners in learning with students, accelerated by technology
As a designer, we can see the transition from teachers delivering content to teachers designing activities that will produce a learning experience as an outcome. Then, bonding with students and developing that relationship teacher-students will give them the opportunity to learn together. It is developed through creative, collaborative, socially connected and relevant learning experiences.
Traditional learning tasks are redesign to:
- Re-structure learning curricular content in challenging ways by digital tools.
- Students as creators and users of new knowledge in the world beyond their class.
- Develop and assess future skills:
These four barriers increase the gap between the theory and the practice. I think that many times new pedagogies are not well implemented or promoted or unknown. Or educators are afraid of change and prefer to continue with the same practices. I would like to highlight how the relationship between student-teacher to design structure task give a voice and a choice to the student.
It gives freedom and the opportunity to explore and discover areas of interest. It connects perfectly with the IB PYP concept of student agency. But, I can see it more structured under the umbrella of ‘Deep learning’ and the use of technology as an accelerator of the learning experience because it requires deep knowledge of pedagogy and content. Only after those two pillars are firm, technology will be an accelerator of learning.
Also, the movement of A.J. Juliani and the Genius hour, promoting the use of 20% of the time of classes on personal projects that students would like to develop according to their personal interests and passions. It’s an opportunity for educators to put into practice deep learning.
At the library:
At SIS Library, we have weekly sessions with PYP students. During these classes, we work with our library AASL standards and UOI of PYP. I have to recognize that my practice has changed over the years. At first, I was so focused on standards and ATL skills.
Some glimpses of change:
- Collaboration with teachers: co-teaching and planning together lead to innovative experiences of learning with students.
- GIve a voice to students: designing activities that will give them the opportunity to express their understandings (GRASPS)
- Differentiation at the library is connected to the level of reading comprehension. We can raise the bar, giving options through a variety of sources (audio, printed, online), and at different levels of complexity.
Based on this week’s readings and the starting of new Units of inquiry in most of the classes, I’m revising my planners in order to apply ‘Deep learning ‘ ideas, give a voice and an opportunity to our students.
Wish me luck!