Course 4, Week 4-Unleashing Deep Learning

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Digital Tools and Resources

Fullan’s New Pedagogies is comprised of three core principles. Over the last weeks, we have read about learning partnerships and deep learning tasks. This week we read about the final new pedagogy principal, Digital Tools and Resources. Fullan and Langworthy (2014) began by sharing research data that showed having technology as part of a lesson has little to no effect on student learning. The research findings showed for technology to have a positive effect on learning, how it is integrated into the lesson makes the difference.

The evidence I have seen to support, “technology used without powerful teaching strategies (and deep learning tasks) does not get us very far” is from Fullan and Langworthy (2014). They shared research findings from John Hattie in A Rich Seam, Meta-analyses of the impact of technology on learning outcomes confirm that, up until now, technology use has had a below-average impact on learning relative to other interventions” (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014).

Leveraging technology in powerful ways, i.e. for collaboration and knowledge creation is not a simple task to plan for third-grade students. First, collaboration might be easier to figure out. I could possibly have students write to students in other schools to discuss different topics. I also might have students collaborate with students in other classes on a research project. A third possibility could be to have students create digital stories and share them with their families, friends, and classmates.

There are several tools I use to integrate technology for basic uses. For example, students use their iPads to research, word-process, use Google Apps like docs and slides, find pictures, practice their math skills level K ebooks

on websites like IXL, practice their spelling on websites like They can find more information about many topics on websites like and to read books on websites like Epic! and They can easily find books at their level on a variety of fiction and non-fiction topics.

My practice could allow “students to become independent learners who design and manage the learning process effectively” in different ways. One example could be instead of first teaching students how to write an essay with an introduction, body, and conclusion; I could challenge students to write a persuasive argument on a topic of their choosing and in their own opinion. Once they have finished writing their piece, we could go back and edit and revise as necessary, using their first draft as the basis of the teaching.


In Brown’s 2017 South by Southwest Keynote speech, she spoke about shame. She explained we need to understand the difference between emotions like shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. If we understand these nuances, we will be better prepared to deal with them when they happen in the classroom, home, or workplace. She encouraged teachers to create a safe classroom for their students to be able to learn. If students do not feel safe, if they feel shamed; they will not hear the teacher and they cannot learn.

I teach courage and develop a courageous classroom through flearning. I remind my students often the way to learn something is to make mistakes. I encourage them to be risk-takers, to not worry about being perfect, and when we fail, we’re given an opportunity to learn. I am vulnerable with my students by not hiding my mistakes, asking them for help and to teach me something new, and thanking them for their patience when I am learning new stuff.  I would like to think there is no shame in my classroom. My students are perfect just like they are and are accepted for who they are-all learning differences.

Dialogical Learning
(Kelly, 2019)

Kelly (2019) explained how Freire’s five ideas of dialogical learning added the communication between teachers and students necessary to allow learning to happen. A teacher who practices with humility, hope, faith, love, and allows students to think critically; will set up an optimum environment for student learning.

I recognize learners as equals so that true learning can take place. My students are young, short human beings who want to be treated with the same respect as adult humans. I demonstrate humility by asking students to share what they know with me. I give them hope by setting high expectations with attainable goals. I show them I have faith in their abilities by focusing on their strengths and helping them work on their weaknesses. I show them love by asking about them and their interests, truly listening to their answers. I promote critical thinking with my students by giving them the wait time they need to figure out the answers themselves. If they struggle and need help, I give them bits they can take and run with and come up with the answer themselves.  Students are encouraged with positive reinforcement to demonstrate these traits with their classmates and others.

In conclusion

Based on this week’s reading, I might shift in my practice in three ways. First, I will be finding more ways for my students to collaborate and create using technology. Also, I will be careful to point out when my students make mistakes, the thing they did wrong does not reflect on them as a person. They might make a mess, but they are not messy. Finally, I will be more mindful to use Freire’s five ideas for dialogical learning to increase the likelihood my students are able to learn. I want students to feel safe when they are learning with me and provide them the most optimum environment for learning.


Brown, B.(2017). Keynote, Daring Classrooms. Retrieved from

Fullan, M. & Langworthy, M. (January 2014). A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies Find Deep Learning. Retrieved from
Kelly, M. (17 Sep 19). Paulo Freire’s Five Ideas for Dialogical Learning.Retrieved from

Terhart, E. (2011). Has John Hattie Really Found the Holy Grail of Research on Teaching? An Extended Review of “Visible Learning.” Journal of Curriculum Studies43(3), 425–438.

3 thoughts on “Course 4, Week 4-Unleashing Deep Learning”

  1. Hi Holly-
    I’m Reyna, COETAIL 11 cohort grad, and I have been perusing you and your cohorts’ blogs recently to keep connected and (hopefully) spark some motivation to get back to my own practice of reflecting through blogging. I enjoyed your post this week and wanted to share some of my thoughts. First, you’re right, leveraging technology in powerful ways poses so many challenges, especially for young learners. I have found success in planning experiences for students to become ‘creators’ first and then moving them into the realm of collaboration. For some reason, I have just had more success with this progression. Collaboration with technology is even a challenge for many adult learners! You pose some great ideas for getting students collaborating though… if you’re ever looking for peers for your students to interact with, let me know. I’m the Innovation Coach at AIS Guangzhou (China) and our teachers are always looking for opportunities like this!
    Also, thanks for sharing the resource for Freire’s ideas for dialogical learning. I hadn’t actually ever taken the time to check this out but this has definitely piqued my interest and I followed the link to the Instructional Coaching site and read the post there. I may have to pick up a copy of his book for the next holiday break!
    And finally, I’m a huge fangirl of Brene Brown; her work is so powerful. She has a special on Netflix right now called The Call to Courage, and if you have the chance, you should check it out. I laughed, I cried, I became even more obsessed with her;)
    Anyway, take care and good luck with your final project… I can’t wait to see everyone’s videos!

    1. Hi Reyna,

      Thank you for your comments! I will definitely check out Brene’s Netflix special. I didn’t know about that! She is a wonderful public speaker and she made her message so clear in her SXSW talk. If you have an idea come up for our students to work together, please let me know, and I’ll do the same.

      Thanks again!

  2. Hi Holly,

    I am wondering how you can leverage the tools you currently use for “basic uses.” For example, I also used to use Spelling City with my grade 3’s in Switzerland. I loved it, but also wasn’t using it in the most traditional way. I first imported a bunch of lists I wanted to use (Magic 300 words) and the students progressed at their own pace. This meant that at one point every single student was on a different spelling list. Once they finished the Magic 300 words I would also use their Words Their Way assessment and find lists based on those needs. Students could test themselves whenever they were ready (no Friday, end of the week test), and move up a level if they got 100%. Their predictive text was turned off and their assessment was done on the iPad. I found this extremely useful for them. They were also actually highly motivated. I am no longer in a school that requires the teaching of spelling or spelling tests (yay!) but would 100% go back to this if I ever needed to again! This helped students set their goals (timeline at least), work at their own pace, not be rushed, and not to mention their engagement and motivation levels went up. I am not sure if this is similar to how you use or not, but I really enjoyed running it this way!

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