A handful of Eagle Rock staffers recently attended a worldwide conference called Deeper Learning 2016 in San Diego, walking away with new ways to influence students to begin thinking critically, collaboratively and to embrace fresh challenges.
Attending from Eagle Rock’s Professional Development Center (PDC) were Michael Soguero, director of professional development; Dan Condon, associate director of professional development; Sarah Bertucci, professional development associate; and Maya Edery, 2015/2016 Public Allies Teaching Fellow in society and cultures.
The purpose of the late March conference was to assist educators who truly strive to prepare their students for college and future careers. Among the core competencies for those who practice this Deeper Learning philosophy is to teach students how to master core academic content.
Attendees heard about methods of teaching students to think critically and solve complex problems, work as a group, communicate with each other and others, and develop academic mindsets. Put simply, the concept is to help students “learn how to learn.”
Our PDC team members arrived for the Southern California event and immediately headed to all four corners of the conference to begin participating in a variety of interactive workshops, chats with nationally known educators, lectures and “deep dive” presentations.
Michael Soguero served as a team leader during the College, Career and Civic Readiness Networked Improvement Community event (click here for info on this group) and attended the Coalition of Essential Schools Center Director Meetings. He also attended several workshops targeting Improvement Science (see definition below), and the training necessary to educate students for future challenges.
He said his biggest takeaway from the three-day event was garnering a finer understanding of “improvement science” and its methods of getting schools focused on results. For those unfamiliar, Improvement Science suggests two types of knowledge are needed: basic knowledge from the discipline of education (for example, knowledge about effective mathematical tasks and instructional strategies) and “a system of profound knowledge” needed to enact basic disciplinary knowledge within organizations.
Meanwhile, Dan Condon attended the Coalition of Essential Schools’ Center Director Meetings and also presented a workshop titled ABCD: And We Aren’t Talking About the Alphabet…Using asset based community development to strengthen your school, which covered how staff and students in schools can use an “asset-based” framework that encourages schools to make progress for themselves.
That’s different, Dan says, from a traditional “needs-driven” approach that makes the school community dependent on institutional help. In addition, Dan enjoyed learning more about Improvement Science and how Eagle Rock can use it with clients of the Professional Development Center.
Sarah Bertucci presented a project proposal for her Deeper Learning and Equity Project that facilitates a cohort of schools through a yearlong process to improve equity in their schools through independent projects. Sarah intends to have students play a key change role in the process, starting with teaching an Eagle Rock School course on Deeper Learning and Equity.
While at the conference, she facilitated an “unconference session” about the Deeper Learning and Equity Fellowship, which resulted in great conversations and connections. Sarah also learned various ways to measure impact of the work at PDC, including a total of eight examples of evaluating the impact of projects.
Finally, Maya Edery experienced many learning experiences at the conference — lessons that she can immediately incorporate at Eagle Rock as part of her Public Allies fellowship. Maya was inspired to learn about project-based learning used in Israeli communities, as well as a session called, “Whose Voice is Missing from this Story? Teaching Social Justice Through Narrative.”
But particularly memorable was Maya’s Deep Dive session, which taught her how to incorporate thematic, interdisciplinary, project-based learning (TIP) in the classroom. She said participants used the current water crisis in Flint, Mich., to create criteria for success, writing their own plays about the crisis. Maya said that process allowed her to see the importance of grounding lesson plans in particular themes, because themes can range across disciplines, classes and assignments. She said that enables students to make connections with the theme, social justice topics, and their personal narratives.
The next Deeper Learning conference — DL2017 — takes place March 29-31, 2017. To learn more or be added to the mailing list for next year’s event, visit Deeper-Learning.org.