Deeper learning. Student-centered learning. Flipped classrooms. Personalized learning. Project-based learning. And on and on.
American classrooms are changing. Educators are using different labels and slightly different approaches, but there’s a common thread—making learning more relevant, rigorous, and effective for students. These approaches are all trying to build deeper learning competencies in our graduates, skills that are useful in the classroom and in real life and that allow students to take ownership of their learning. Some of the first things you may notice in a deeper learning classroom are:
- Lots of peer-to-peer conversations about big issues that defy yes/no answers and ask students to think more analytically.
- Interdisciplinary topics, with some classes going longer than traditional class periods.
- Students working in groups, asking questions, and pushing each other to defend their answers.
Just because a classroom is noisy or the teacher isn’t always lecturing doesn’t mean the kids aren’t learning. Quite the opposite. The idea is to push students to think differently, to apply what they know, and to create new ideas, instead of just receiving information. That’s difficult to see, but easy to elicit with a few key questions. This guide provides an idea of what deeper learning classrooms look like and questions you can ask to figure out what students are actually learning. Use the questions as your cues to figure out where the classroom changes are just interior design and where they are allowing students to master content in different and more long-lasting ways.