Being new to the CIRCE team, I was curious why educators are drawn to the Learning in Depth, or LiD, program. I personally support the student-centered approach, and allowing space for multiple forms of learning, but I do not yet have first-hand experience with the program. I reached out to the LiD community of educators to see what aspects of LiD enhance student learning in their practice.
Caterina Kennedy, principal at St. Michael’s Elementary School, responded. She shares why she was drawn to LiD, and how it fits into the current B.C. learning environment:
“I was looking for an impetus to help increase teachers’ dispositions towards more inquiry, critical and creative teaching. This goal of shifting one’s pedagogy was a direct result of the re-designed curriculum. After much research, I found that the Learning in Depth program would fit very well with the redesigned curriculum and, in particular, in developing the core competencies in our students. As well, Learning in Depth (LiD) is personalized in that students work independently and can decide for themselves which direction they wish to take with their research. Learning in Depth incorporates inquiry-based teaching and learning in order to help develop students’ creative and critical thinking skills while at the same time fostering a deeper understanding of the topics studied. The hope is that this innovative approach will help develop the skills our students need in order to be self-directed learners, while at the same time, encourage interpersonal and cooperative skills.”
I suspect that LiD allows teachers to pay careful attention to the new core competencies, since student work in LiD is assessed in an ongoing, formative way, but is not formally graded.
A changing world requires new skills of the next generation. Interpersonal abilities, critical thinking, as well as self-determination are just a few examples of the tools required for success. LiD creates the opportunity for both the explicit teaching of these skills and environment that fosters their growth.
“Educational experts suggest that to prepare students for the future, the curriculum must be learner-centered and flexible and maintain a focus on literacy and numeracy, while supporting deeper learning through concept-based and competency-driven approaches. It is meant to support the development of citizens who are:
- Competent Thinkers
- Competent Communicators and
- Personally and socially competent
It is for this reason I decided to introduce Learning in Depth into the school. The first strategy was to get “buy in” from the teachers. This was done by describing the program as an excellent first step to implementing the re-designed curriculum, the next strategy was to share the LiD kit, an excellent hands-on resource, to the teachers. I then contacted Simon Fraser University’s Imaginative Education Research Group (now called, the Centre for Imagination in Research, Culture and Education) for support. The teachers would get full support in the form of on-site coaching in how to implement Learning in Depth.
All the teachers and parents were involved in our innovation. So too was the Imaginative Education Research Group (now CIRCE).
The major focus for our school is about how we engage our students in meaningful learning. Our end state is to create learning environments where both teachers and students have a re-energized enjoyment of the learning process; where students and teachers are not so focused on the “end result” but rather gain a trust in their own abilities as a learner and as a teacher.”
St. Michael school’s continues to use the LiD program across all grades. Teachers are supported in their implementation of the program. The schoolwide collaboration likely provides students with an excellent example of positive interpersonal learning.
Many teachers, at a certain point in their practice, find themselves in a rut with their course planning. The LiD program offers a manageable amount of meaningful change to refresh and enliven the teacher looking for more, or simply, different. I can’t wait to hear more stories from those engaging with LiD in creative and inspiring ways.