On Saturday, educators will gather at Mid-Pacific Institute to discuss “deeper learning” practices in the classroom: ways to motivate and challenge students to communicate, collaborate, and apply what they have learned in different ways.
I’m a fan of the “unconference” concept, and love that it has taken hold in Hawaii. From the first Unconferenz in 2008 (the eight-annual event coming in May) to Kamehameha Schools’ KSUNCON to the recent Sustainability Unconference, the open, peer-driven format certainly makes sense for teachers and school leaders who are looking to foster similar flexibility and independence in classrooms.
By design, the day’s agenda isn’t set in stone, and deeper learning can include a number of facets. Possible topics include student-driven project-based learning, co-teaching, community building, learning assessments, and “restorative discipline.”
“Deeper learning practices help students master core academic content, while learning how to think critically, collaborate, communicate effectively, direct their own learning, and believe in themselves,” the DLHN website explains. “We want to provide a forum for like-minded educators in Hawaii who are using deeper learning practices to connect with, collaborate with, and learn from each other.”
The unconference effort is being led by Mark Hines, director of MPI’s Exploratory program (MPX) and an adjunct faculty member at Chaminade University. We’ve had him on Bytemarks Cafe a few times, most recently to talk about the Hawaii Society for Technology in Education.
“This work came from a small group of schools who were part of some different projects that are connected to the larger deeper learning network that’s happening nationally,” he explains. “All of us have an interest in centering our schoolwork around incorporating deeper learning practices more fully.”
The network is anchored by MPI’s Kupu Hou Academy, which has been organizing professional development programs for over four years. Public charter schools make up the rest of the KLHN membership: Malama Honua in Waimanalo, Wai’alae Elementary in Kaimuki, and SEEQS in Kahala. But the door is open to additional collaborators.
“Although there are many reasons to do the unconference, one of the key ones is to open up the possibilities for a larger number of schools and school leaders to be part of the conversation that this work engenders,” Hines explains.
The deeper learning unconference will run from 9 a.m. to noon at MPI’s Weinberg Technology Plaza. If you’re thinking about attending (even if you don’t!), please fill out this form.