Deeper Learning Blog Series: How to Integrate Deeper Learning into Your Classroom (6 of 6)

Deeper Learning is often mistaken for simply meaning “mastering content”—but it is much more complex. As Dr. Tim Hudson outlines in his recent white paper, Algebra Readiness Through Deeper Learning Through in Middle School, the goal of Mastering Core Academic Content by explaining that students should have an understanding of key principles and procedures, and be able to recall facts, use correct language, and draw on knowledge to complete new tasks. But as important as content is, it is only one competency within the whole concept of Deeper Learning.

Competency 6: Mastering Core Academic Content

It’s no secret that the pressure is on for teachers to ensure that each of their students are proficient in all content areas. Mastering academic content is critical for learning, and below I dive into ways to enhance the competency while also maintaining personal pedagogy and taking rigorous testing into consideration.

Strategy: Focus on the Competencies of Deeper Learning

If your classroom environment supports, models, and actively uses the other five competencies of Deeper Learning, the end result will automatically include Mastering Core Academic Content. Teaching students to Think Critically, utilize Self-Directed Learning, practice Effective Communication, work Collaboratively, and develop an Academic Mindset will allow your students to understand the content more deeply.

Critical Thinking and Self-Directed Learning: Have all students think, ask, and discover information about the content and actively problem solve. Thinking about problems at a high level isn’t just for students ready for a challenge—all students can benefit from diving deeper into content.

Effective Communication and Collaboration: Every classroom can be a great conduit for open, honest, respectful communication through collaboration and discussion. The skills associated with being able to work with others and respect differing opinions will help any student in their future education and career.

Academic Mindset and Mastering Academic Content: The understanding that all learning is something we work for, struggle through, and persevere with helps students push themselves into challenges that enhance their learning. When students are willing to invest more effort in learning, and when they use strategies and skills to understand information through the processes they have learned, they will become proficient at mastering any material that they are working on.

Strategy: Determine the End Goal and Break It Down

Using standards is one opportunity to create goals and build lessons focused on learning. By looking to see what students need to learn, you can develop your teaching strategy. Once that is clear, you can break your big goals into smaller, more manageable objectives, and build your lessons from there. These can then be broken down further into tasks, but they should all lead back to the predetermined goals.

Be transparent with your students about what needs to be accomplished during the year. Share your goals with them so they can ask questions and prepare themselves for the learning journey ahead. When the students feel heard and engaged in all aspects, their feelings of autonomy increase and their motivation improves.

Break your largest and most daunting end-of-year goals into smaller, manageable chunks. Work backwards and find the largest gaps that each respective group of students is encountering. By including students in the conversation, you will discover what they already have notions about, and what looks completely new to them.

Mastering Core Academic Content is what every teacher wants for students. By using the other competencies of Deeper Learning and breaking learning standards into manageable goals with your students, your class will achieve content mastery.

I hope this blog series has provided information that is actionable in your classroom. Deeper Learning should be goal for every student—to enhance both their current education as well as their future readiness.

Kelly Urlacher

Curriculum Designer at DreamBox Learning
Kelly Urlacher began her career as a sixth grade teacher in Sammamish, WA in 2002. Shortly after, she received her Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Technology and Curriculum Development. After years of dedicating herself to students and education within the classroom, she earned her National Board Certification in 2009. Kelly currently works as a Curriculum Designer for DreamBox Learning and continues tutoring high school students in mathematics.