Deeper Learning Digest: Changing Beliefs to Change Practice

Last Updated by Nancy Rogan on
By Caroline Waldman, Deeper Learning Digest, ​October 28, 2016 04:08 pm

Jeff Heyck-Williams, Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., tells how his school shifted their “math culture” by changing teachers’ beliefs and feelings about math.

Stemming from an interview with a potential new teacher, who was “open to deepening her practice” except in one area, math, Heyck-Williams realized that there was a pervasive fixed mindset around math that went far beyond just this one teacher. He decided that something had to be done.

“Because we cared about deeper learning in math for all students,” Heyck-Williams writes in Education Week’s Learning Deeply blog, “we realized that just changing the how and what of math instruction was insufficient. We also had to change our beliefs and feelings about math. This kind of change meant getting teachers—all teachers—to love math.”

Learn about their experience.

Deepening Math Instruction

A new report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) asks ten questions for mathematics teachers, and uses findings from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 and the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013 to help answer them. The report focuses on how best to achieve deeper learning in mathematics classrooms.

For example, the report asks, “Should I encourage my students to use their creativity in mathematics?” For this question, the OECD report examines how teachers can use elaboration strategies to encourage students to make connections among mathematics tasks; link learning to prior knowledge and real-life situations; and solve problems in different ways by developing analogies and examples, brainstorming, and using concept maps.

Read more and check out video from an Alliance-OCED webinar on the report.

How Beliefs Make a Difference

American Institutes for Research (AIR) released a new study that explores how certain school features play a role in that school’s ability to provide deeper learning opportunities for their students. Specifically, the report looks at teachers’ own beliefs about teaching, their assessment of their fellow teachers’ professional culture, and of the success of the leadership and program coherence provided by their principal. From these responses, the report seeks to explain variation in students’ opportunities to engage in deeper learning in core courses.

A key finding from the report shows the critical connection between beliefs about teaching and the opportunity for deeper learning:

  • Teachers’ reports of their own student-centered beliefs about teaching (i.e., giving students agency in their own learning) and their self-efficacy for teaching (i.e., believing in their capabilities as teachers) were the features most strongly and consistently related to greater student opportunities to engage in deeper learning.

Check out the full report, School Features and Student Opportunities for Deeper Learning: What Makes a Difference?


Deeper Learning On the Slopes

Deeper learning prepares students for success in a career, even that of a professional athlete. Carrie Sheinberg, who is now a member of Champion for America’s Future, competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics on the United States Ski Team. What does that have to do with deeper learning? Sheinberg describes how critical thinking, one of the deeper learning competencies, helped her to achieve her goals as an Olympic skier. Here’s an excerpt:

When you’re in the starting gate, that’s where real critical thinking comes in. You’re looking at this course in front of you: It’s icy, it’s steep, and it’s cold. And you have to figure out how you’re going to navigate it. Even though maybe 20 people have gone before you, they have all done it their way, and you have to do it your own way. Those are the kind of things where thinking independently and critically can really set you apart from the rest.

Read the full post.

Deeper Learning in Action

Twitter can also be a great place to see what’s actually happening to promote deeper learning outcomes in (and out!) of classrooms across the country. Here are two examples. Be sure to follow @DeeperLearning and check out #DeeperLearning for more!

The ‘Deeper Learning Digest’ is a bi-weekly roundup of articles, blog posts, and other content around deeper learning. Be sure to follow @deeperlearning on Twitter and like Deeper Learning on Facebook to stay up to date on all deeper learning news.

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