John Mikton and Dan Taylor were kind enough to invite me on the International Schools Podcast. John and Dan do a fantastic job of highlighting interesting things that are happening in the international schools space and they always have awesome guests on the podcast. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you’re missing out!
I was incredibly honored to be on the show for Episode 89. We talked about deeper learning, technology integration, leadership, and lots of other fun stuff…
What do students, teachers, and leaders do in ‘deeper learning’ elementary and middle schools that is different from their traditional peers?
‘Deeper learning’ environments are cropping up all around the world in reaction to student boredom and disengagement, the globalization and automation of many job sectors, the increasing complexity of our digital and online information landscape, learning equity and workforce concerns, the need for adaptive and transformative societal innovation, and other factors. However, with some exceptions (e.g., EL, Design39, or EPiC), most of the schools that are featured in deeper learning research, advocacy, and publicity conversations often are at the secondary level (e.g., The Met or High Tech High).
As deeper learning networks like Big Picture Learning, New Tech Network, High Tech High, and others extend their models into lower grades, they are meeting long-standing, student-centered models such as Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia, and democratic schools that are moving upward from the other direction. Grades K through 8 are where all of these movements come together! My Spring 2023 sabbatical will focus on both the instructional and leadership sides of deeper learning in grades K through 8, with an emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, greater student and educator agency, real-world authentic work, and rich technology infusion (inquiry, PBL, challenge- or place-based learning, high-quality STEM, entrepreneurship, etc.). I am building upon the work in my previous book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, in which my colleagues and I interviewed principals of 30 innovative schools around the world and then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations with students and teachers.
Finances, Publicity, and Other Supports
I am road tripping around the country to visit innovative elementary and middle schools. My costs are pretty simple: just mileage, meals, and hotels (and occasionally airfare and rental cars) as I aim to visit several dozen schools nationwide. I already have secured funding for about half of my total anticipated budget of $30,000. If you know anyone who might be willing to lend financial, publicity, expertise, or other support, please get in touch at or 707-722-7853 (my cell).
The Commonwealth of Kentucky has leaned hard into the 4 Shifts Protocol to support its schools’ technology integration and instructional redesign work. Over 650(!) Digital Learning Coaches (DLCs) across the state have received a copy of Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning and are working with their local educators to use the protocol to redesign lessons and units for deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion.
Although many thousands of educators and schools across the globe are using the 4 Shifts Protocol, I believe that Kentucky currently is the largest single deployment of this redesign work. Kentucky also is investing heavily in project-based learning, and the protocol is a nice bridging mechanism and support for that complex work.
Julie Graber and I are grateful that the protocol has been useful to so many educators in so many places. Kentucky (and others), please let me know what I can do to support this work. Happy to chat or visit anytime!
In March 2020, some world-renowned university faculty invited me to help launch a new website and podcast initiative, Silver Lining for Learning. Although I eventually bowed out due to other time commitments, the weekly live conversations and guest posts were super fun and informative. I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity that I had to help get Silver Lining for Learning up and running.