Block scheduling, deep learning, and meaningful tasks
I just read this article in the New York Times and the findings here are not surprising.
I’m sharing some with you here. The rest you can read in the article. Link here.
Here are examples of what works well in high school;
Rather than touring students through the textbook, teachers invited students to participate in the authentic work of the field. For example, a skillful science teacher in a high-poverty-district high school offered a course in which her students designed, researched, carried out and wrote up original experiments.
Schools need to become much more deeply attached to the world beyond their walls. Extracurriculars gain much of their power from their connections to their associated professional domains. School subjects, in comparison, feel devoid of context. Promising schools tackle this dilemma in different ways: Some use project-based learning to engage students in their local communities; some collaborate with museums, employers and others who can give students experiences in professional domains; still others prioritize hiring teachers who have had experience working in (and not just teaching about) their fields. All of these choices bring meaning to work that is too often taught in a vacuum.
Teachers need both more freedom and more support. They need longer class periods, opportunities for collaboration and teaching loads small enough to allow them to form real relationships with students. They need expectations for topic coverage that permit more opportunities for depth. They need districts that focus less on compliance and more on helping teachers learn in rich ways that parallel how those teachers might teach their students. Finally, teachers need parents who ask, “What is my child curious about?” rather than “How did she do on the test?”
Most important of all, high school students need to be granted much more agency, responsibility and choice. While there are some things that everyone should know, much of what will help students in college and beyond are skills: the ability to speak and write persuasively, to reason and engage with one another’s reasoning and to think about core content in complicated ways. Happily, there are multiple paths to achieving these ends. Students can choose what scientific puzzles to explore and what English or history electives to take while still developing a shared foundation of skills.
The more we can create similar opportunities in core subjects — giving students the freedom to define authentic and purposeful goals for their learning, creating opportunities for
students to lead that learning, and helping them to refine their work until it meets high standards of quality — the deeper their learning and engagement will be.