Deep Learning in Mandarin class
By Brooke Burns, Communications Manager
At Taipei American School, our educators kicked off the 2022-23 school year with a professional development session on deep learning hosted by Kyle Wagner of Transform Educational Consulting, focused on how educators can create deep learning experiences for their students that stick with them well beyond when an assessment has passed and a class has ended.  

While this whole-faculty learning experience was eye opening, a small group of educators applied to extend their learning throughout the whole year. For a school like TAS, designing deep learning experiences in the curriculum helps our students focus on the integration of skills and content, while building the ‘soft skills’ that are so important for contemporary students. From learning how to interact in a team, developing reflection skills, and learning to solve complex problems that have multiple solutions, deep learning experiences connect the curriculum to these core skills.  

During the Fall of 2022, the deep learning cohort met with Kyle on a weekly basis and learned about a different component of deep learning experiences each week, from the idea of an essential question and a problem that the experience seeks to solve, to designing a launch event to help anchor students’ upcoming work in a memorable moment.  

Guided by the John Dewey quote, “We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflection on experience…” our TAS educators examined their respective curricula and looked for units or lessons that were both interesting and multi-directional – with plenty of opportunities for reflection. Deep learning experiences are not just fun activities, they are grounded in the desired learning outcomes and the need to solve real problems for an authentic audience. 

After selecting a learning opportunity, the cohort built their teaching plans and worked together outside of the sessions to reflect on their projects. Once they met again, the cohort followed a structured protocol that, for one educator, resulted in, “the best feedback I’ve ever received on my teaching.”  

After receiving feedback, the educators were prepared to do what they do best – go out and teach! This spring, a number of deep learning experiences are taking place, and we are eager to share them with you as they occur.  

The cohort will continue to meet on a monthly basis during the implementation process of their deep learning experiences, to continue to learn together by reflecting and sharing. This cohort will eventually go on to help coach other members of the TAS community in articulating their own deep learning experiences. 

Next month, we’ll share one of the first deep learning experiences taking place this spring – a combination of history, social studies, and dance!