Designing Learning

Designing Engaging and Rigorous Learning Experiences

Designing Engaging and Rigorous Learning Experiences

This guide-book from Toddle will walk you through the process of examining your learning experiences and provoke you with questions to redesign them with a goal to promote higher-order thinking. Discover frameworks and examples to understand how you can integrate technology, focus on higher-order thinking skills, and support student agency, to make your learning experiences truly come alive! 

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Source: Toddle Website
Toddle is a collaboration platform for IB PYP and MYP teachers, designed by IB teachers.

What Learning Do We Value?

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Source: Innovative Global Education

Learning and Young Children

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Source: Innovative Global Education

Foundations of Understanding

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Foundations of Understanding by Design with Jay McTighe is a series of four workshops presented by Toddle. In these sessions, Jay elaborates on the various stages, key elements, and processes of the UbD framework, along with providing accessible tips and handy resources for educators to make the best of the planning process. 
**Note: You may be asked to fill in a short form - For your school / organization you can use "Inspiring Inquiry".

Who Do We Plan For

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Source: Innovative Global Education
The article’s premiss is “schools and teachers should view planning as being responsive to student learning and interests. The planning process continues throughout the life of the unit and is developed according to the experiences and wonderings that occur during the learning process. There must be space for students to engage in meaningful conceptual inquiry and teachers need to create that space. Without space for student inquiry, wonderings and curiosity it would need to be questioned if the presence of authentic student inquiry existed within the unit.” The article advocates that effective conceptual planning is based on eight principles and understandings.    

Planning a Unit of Work

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Source: Innovative Global education

Rules of Great Teaching

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Source: Sylivia Duckworth

Why Failure is Important

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Source: Sylivia Duckworth

Provocations to Spark Your Students to Think, Wonder and Question

The following websites offer a wide spectrum of provocations for students to pique their curiosity and get them thinking, wondering and speaking about topics that intertest them. These are wonderful conversation starters that can lead to the development of critical thinking, listening and oracy skills that can support your units of inquiry.

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Creating A Culture of Curiosity

Byrdseed Website

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Many students don’t feel comfortable being curious at school. They’ve learned that asking a question might make them look foolish, slow down the class, or even upset the teacher. So if you want curious students, you have to retrain them to be curious again. You have to spend some time creating a culture of curiosity.

What Do I Do with This?

Take a few minutes once a week, show your favourite puzzlement or two, and simply let your students be curious.

Use these two prompts:

DO NOT: assign homework or create classwork out of these questions or you’ll quench the fire.

The great thing about these emails is that you're free to use them however you like. But here's how I'd get started:

Eventually, you can collect your kids' "wonders" and put them on your walls or your class website. Display them publicly. Add answers when/if they find them. Don't be surprised if kids come back in a month and say, "Oh, I figured out why that spider did that thing in that video!" And don't be scared to come back yourself and share an answer you found. Model curiosity! AND don't be afraid of leaving unanswered questions sitting there all year!

Source: Byrdseed Website

Five Ways To Scaffold Classroom Dialogue; Check for Understanding; Build Student Confidence; Sustain Student Attention; Do Daily Review

The Five Ways To series are informative one-page summaries produced by the David Goodwin.

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Five Ways to Build Student Ownership in the First Month of School

The first month of school sets the tone for the entire year. Master teachers set up their students for the rest of the year. They actively scaffold student ownership, build classroom community, and cultivate a learning environment where the students were not only engaged, but also empowered.  Here are FIVE ways anyone can build student ownership in the first month of school written by A J Juliani.

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“Pedagogy has to embrace a sense of what kind of culture are we creating.”

Guy Claxton, 2021

Reminder: Children Still Love Learning

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Something I've been reminded of over and over again the last few weeks as I talk with my own children, and educators around the country working in K-12 classrooms: Children still love learning. They don't always like school, and therein lies the paradox, as school is supposed to be a place where we learn. 

As I was wrestling with these two thoughts, Tim Smyth posted this on his @historycomics Instagram page: 

What's so fascinating about this sentiment is that we all KNOW this intrinsically. I wonder what would happen if we stopped asking the question at school: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content PREPARE children for ________?

And, if instead, we asked the question: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content keep children loving learning?

We Know a Few Things to be True:

In short, most of what we are doing in an "assessment-centric" education system is not working, has been proven to have no correlation to student success, leads to disengaged students, and teacher burnout. 

But, our system remains unchanged in many places. And, the burden falls on school administrators, teachers, and support staff to try and make learning meaningful and relevant under these circumstances.

Here's the real kicker: In the midst of it all, children are still here in our schools every single day. They are with us in school for over 14,000 hours between Kindergarten and 12th Grade.

And, they still love learning, when the learning is meaningful.

There are too many people that want school to stay the same, even as many of us educators are shouting from the rooftops that things have to change.

Not for us (although that would be nice), but really for the children. Isn't that why we are doing this work in the first place?!?

There is so much we don't have control of or influence over. But, if you get the chance to make a decision for the children in your school or classroom, I hope we can ask the question: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content keep children loving learning? And design based on that answer.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework developed by CAST. UDL guides the design of learning experiences to proactively meet the needs of all learners. When you use UDL, you assume that barriers to learning are in the design of the environment, not in the student. UDL is based on brain science and evidence-based educational practices. It also leverages the power of digital technology.

UDL describes human variability based on parts of the brain that manage the “why” (affective network), the “what” (recognition network), and the “how” (strategic network) of learning.

CAST developed UDL guidelines that are based on three main principles that align with these learning networks. The three UDL principles are engagement, representation, and action and expression.

The chart below includes the three UDL principles adapted from CAST. It also gives you some questions to consider and lists some examples of the principles in action. 

Source: Understood Website

UDL Podcast Featuring Katie Novak

If you've ever wanted to learn more about UDL, this episode is for you! And if you ever had a feeling that one size fits all learning doesn't work, here's how to fix it with real examples.

UDL Now! Author Katie Novak dives deep into the best practices with Universal Design For Learning, and how we can start removing barriers for all learners (kids and adults).

Check out her book: UDL Now!

UDL Guidelines

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Source: CAST Website
Also see: 

Getting Started with UDL

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Source: Understood Website

Six Principles to Support Learning

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Source Facebook

Designing Learning Articles/Videos

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5 Ways to Stop Thinking for Your Students

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Too often math students lean on teachers to think for them, but there are some simple ways to guide them to think for themselves.
5 Ways to Get Your Students Thinking
  • Answer questions with a refocus on the students’ point of view
  • Don’t carry a pencil or marker
  • We instead of I
  • Stall your answer
  • Set boundaries

Better World Project - Unit EL Education

Run Time: 6:54 - June 25, 2018
This video features an inspiring Better World Project accomplished by the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC) in New London, CT, an EL Education school. It was one of 18 winning Better World Projects selected by a committee of EL Education students, teachers, and leaders, from submissions across the country. 
EL Schools are not IB schools, but this project is an example of what an IB UOI could look like - truly transdisciplinary, inquiry & concept based with student voice and choice and connect to being internationally minded - what is means to be human. 
** View More EL Better World Projects

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