And so it begins…
I am on sabbatical in Spring 2023, unpacking deeper learning in elementary and middle schools. I have been named a New Pathways Fellow by Getting Smart in support of this work. If you would like to know more, I made a one-page summary of what I am hoping to accomplish (the text is below as well). If there is an inquiry- and problem-based learning school that serves grades K-8 that you think I should try and visit, or if you’d like to learn more about what I’m doing and learning, please get in touch!
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).
Thanks for your interest in this work! You can follow along at #DLEMS #deeperlearning #NewPathways. I also will be sharing my learning at the Getting Smart website and in other spaces. Stay tuned!