Putting Deep Learning into Practice

The nowadays reality (on the one hand – a very high degree of students’ boredom in the framework of classical education and the lack of connections with the real world; on the other hand – the students’ engagement and excitement of the digital world (the social network spread and gamification of the world) makes appear a new approach to teaching – Deep Learning.

https://www.cecweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/deep-learning.pdf

There are different frameworks and methods that can be used in the classroom to implement Deep Learning.

Challenge Based Learning  (CBL) is an approach that helps students understanding the world around them and solve real-world problems. I think that approach was designed for middle and high school students, probably students in grades 4 and 5, who can be ready for this approach as well. CBL helps develop and improve the following skills: Leadership, Creativity, Media Literacy, Problem-Solving, Critical Thinking, Flexibility, and Adaptability. Technology is a tool for students to explore, connect with each other and a teacher or/ and consultant, record their thinking and findings, and communicate the result of work to the community. 

What do we need to have in order to CBL happen? Computers,  media creation tools, the Internet, and mobile devices for any time, anywhere access to information, content, and communication, a collaborative workspace that is available to everyone 24/7. At a minimum, the workspace will include a calendar, a place to store notes, documents, and other digital assets such as PDFs, video clips, and audio and video podcasts. 

There are different stages of CBL.

Students can create different types of products, including a challenge proposal video, a set of guiding questions, research plans and results, solutions with testing plans and evaluation parameters, a solution video, student journals, and individual reflection videos. CBL requires some sort of prior knowledge, higher-order thinking skills, and good digital skills. 

As an elementary school teacher, I can see some challenges in implementing this approach in my classroom—first, age restrictions and some online tools’ complexity. As a result, it can be done only in the classroom setting with a teacher’s support or at home with the parents’ assistance. 

As a foreign language teacher, I can use CBL only with the students who have already reached Intermediate High or Advanced levels and can speak, read, and write in a target language. Unfortunately, students can reach these levels at the end of Middle school.

The more appropriate framework for elementary students who are learning a foreign language will be Game-Based Learning.  

“The ALLURE method of game design uses learning, engagement, and assessment principles inherent in complex game mechanics to create a spectrum of highly engaging learning experiences, digital or non-digital.” This method is frequently used in our school in WL classrooms.

http://www.joebisz.com/conferencetrading-complexmechanic/

The other features of GBL are:

  • Networked or Sensory Environment
  • Fast, Random, or Simultaneous Access
  • Frequent Rewards or Feedback
  • Challenge
  • Narrative or Fantasy.

A good example is the Kahoot Games. Students can access at the same time, it is challenging (it is written in a target language and assesses the knowledge, gives immediate feedback). The last Kahoot game I created was based on Christmas and New Year Celebrations, similarities and differences between Russia and The USA. Students love to play these types of games and sometimes challenge themselves and create their own games for classmates to play. We make the games after the presentations to check for understanding.

Another type of popular game is a Rival Game when a student or a group of students has a goal to compete against another student (or group); it pushes students’ abilities and makes them cooperate against a challenge.

(Simple and Complex ALLURE Version, by Victoria Mondelli and Joe Bisz, 2019)

Role-play is the most powerful game in language learning. Students are engaged in a variety of authentic situations and play different roles.

So, Game-Based Learning is known and widely used in WL classrooms in our school. It does not require a high level of language proficiency. It is age-appropriate for elementary school students. It is fun and engaging, authentic, and easy to implement.

Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a “teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.” This type of project contains curriculum and instruction; the students work on it during an extended period of time, trying to solve a real-world problem or answering complex questions. The final product is presented to a real audience. This method also requires a good command of Russian or any other language. I use this method when the students are ready to do in a target language in the unit’s framework, for instance, “Healthy Choices.” The students collect the data of their classmates’ food preferences, analyze the menu of our school, research healthy and unhealthy food choices, make a list of recommendations on how to improve the school menu, and present it to the owner of our school cafeteria. Students work on developing their content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills in a target language.

Design Thinking

https://spencerauthor.com/designthinking/

Design thinking aims to examine a problem from a human-centered perspective and develop a creative solution to this problem using different innovation strategies. A human-centered approach means that we analyze our students’ personal needs and create a learning process that allows a variety of human experiences for specific students.

Each student has a device (I-pad or computer) and access to various apps for language learning (Linguascope, Quizlet, Kahoot, This is Language). The WL teachers do not use textbooks; they constantly modify and adapt materials to the students’ needs and proficiency level. In each theme, we have essential questions in English and Russian; the students self-evaluate themselves at the beginning of each unit in order to understand what they already know and can do. After that, we discuss the theme and write a lot of questions that the students would like to be able to ask and answer in a target language and brainstorm about a possible format for the presentation of the final product. Students have the right to choose any format to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. For now, the rubrics of summative assessments are based on ACTFL standards. During my learning journey with COETAIL, I have started to think about how not only to implement the ISTE standards in my teaching but also incorporate them in rubrics for assessments.

 There are so many frameworks of teaching nowadays. We can use any of them depending on what learning goals we have and what matches the best to our students’ needs. But we need to remember that students are learning when the situation is relevant, the language is real, and activities are meaningful and exciting.

 

3 Replies to “Putting Deep Learning into Practice”

  1. Hi Katya,

    I like how you summarized the different frameworks for learning and compared them to what you can do in elementary.

    I use the design cycle as I teach science. I started using PBL (shout out to John Spencer) and I guess a bit of challenge based learning, which I find similar to UbD when planning units (both engage with a relevant issue, guide student focus by presenting a Big Idea, Essential question and Focus questions). I like the idea of PBL and challenge based learning where they offer students a chance to identify and solve a real world issue. I agree with you that higher order thinking is needed more and some students get frustrated or they give up. I find these methods take a lot of time, focus, and clarity.

    During the pandemic, my school schedule has been thrown off by switching quickly from virtual learning to on site learning and back again. Due to this unstable schedule, I find clarity is super important when teaching ELLs. I am starting to think that using PBL during this time may be too cognitively demanding on G6 ELL students. A lot of them get confused easily, don’t remember to use the rubric, or don’t share with their group in breakout rooms.

    I am thinking of using more direct instruction and quizzes during this time. It’s difficult to have students participating AND present during virtual learning (many parents are at work). I feel like I’m moving backwards regarding teaching and learning methods but I think I need to due to the stress we’re all under. Traditional instruction is also what my community knows and is comfortable with.

    I like Kahoot as do my students. I have tried rival games for fun, students are super competitive! I have to remember to use more of these for quick formatives. Thank you for sharing and for the Challenge Based Learning infographic.

  2. Hi Katya,I really liked how you explained the different frameworks and methods that can be implemented to promote Deep Learning. The fact that you also assessed them directly for a possible use with a elementary language class, is very valuable I thought, as it will help your readers to know directly what could work best for their own students.
    About Kahoot, I completely agree with you: I see that our Middle School students (grades 7 to 9) really like playing it. And during our Personal Learning time (everyday for 30 minutes), when there is an opportunity in the schedule, they like to choose a ready made game and try it. This is one of the rare time during this advisory-type session that the whole group get enthusiastic together. Otherwise, with the safety rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic (masks on, individual desk 1.5 meter apart, no food, etc), this break in the afternoon is very different that what it used to be. So Kahoot bring them together as they “compete” against each other. I was amaze to see that a couple of very quiet students, who are usually not very vocal, get hooked. 
    I know that my classroom colleagues also use Kahoot for some end of unit activities. 
    This is a good example that implementing playful activities in the classroom is a productive idea, and having students creating them for their peers, or for other classes for example (same grade or for younger student to promote vertical interaction), would allow them to do some research on the topic, and decide what game format to use. Being independent in the process will support Deep Learning. 
    I am looking forward to read and see your final project being implemented using some of the concepts you discussed here. 

    Good luck!
    Christel 

  3. Hi Katya,I really liked how you explained the different frameworks and methods that can be implemented to promote Deep Learning. The fact that you also assessed them directly for a possible use with an elementary language class, is very valuable I thought, as it will help your readers to know directly what could work best for their own students.
    About Kahoot, I completely agree with you: I see that our Middle School students (grades 7 to 9) really like playing it. And during our Personal Learning time (every day for 30 minutes), when there is an opportunity in the schedule, they like to choose a ready-made game and try it. This is one of the rare time during this advisory-type session that the whole group get enthusiastic together. Otherwise, with the safety rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic (masks on, individual desk 1.5 meter apart, no food, etc), this break in the afternoon is very different than what it used to be. So Kahoot brings them together as they “compete” against each other. I was amazed to see that a couple of very quiet students, who are usually not very vocal, get hooked. 
    I know that my classroom colleagues also use Kahoot for some end of unit activities. 
    This is an excellent example that implementing playful activities in the classroom is a productive idea, and having students creating them for their peers, or for other classes for example (same grade or for younger students, to promote vertical interaction), would allow them to do some research on the topic, and decide what game format to use. Being independent in the process will support Deep Learning. 
    I am looking forward to read and see your final project being implemented using some of the concepts you discussed here. 

    Good luck!
    Christel 

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