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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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A Defense of Deeper Learning: Watch What's Working, Part 2

Bob Lenz

Co-founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA

"Students who take on deeper learning are transformed by that experience."

What does that transformation look like? How can a school provide students with a transformational educational experience? One way is to give them a forum to demonstrate what they know and can do after four years of deeper learning.

At Envision Schools, that forum is our College Success Portfolio (CSP) Defense, the presentation that every senior must give -- and pass -- in order to graduate. Our CSP Defense, similar to one given for a dissertation, is each student's opportunity to demonstrate that they know how to:

  • Master core academic content
  • Think critically and solve complex problems
  • Work collaboratively
  • Communicate effectively
  • Learn how to learn
  • Develop academic mindsets

Those are the 21st Century skills and dispositions that will help students succeed in college and in life, and the ones you'll see them come alive in "A Defense of Deeper Learning," the first of the Envision Education videos that are part of The Teaching Channel's new Deeper Learning series. (As a reminder, this series contains 50+ videos showcasing 10 Deeper Learning networks from all over that country that are preparing students for success; collectively, they serve more than 500 schools and 227,000 students.)

Setting the Stage

In Envision's first video, you'll meet two students, Nick and Jerica, and watch as they get ready to give their defenses. Listening to them and watching them interact with their peers and teachers is like having a front row seat for those moments of educational transformation. Through their two very different stories, you'll learn how a defense is structured and how the process works. You'll follow these two students and Envision teacher Abby Benedetto as they work together towards the final defense day. Along the way, you'll hear how the CSP Defense process:

  • Represents authentic demonstrations of content knowledge and leadership skills
  • Pushes kids to be collaborators in their own education. "Their voices have to come to the fore," says Abby Benedetto
  • Engages students in evaluating their peers as part of the defense review panel

Watch the video and then, in the comments, join the conversation by responding to the questions that follow, and by sharing your own ideas and questions.

VIDEO (14:41): A Defense of Deeper Learning. See the entire Deeper Learning video series at Teaching Channel.

Questions to Move Us Forward

What other kinds of "demonstrations of mastery" are schools around the country using?

When have you participated in a similar high stakes presentation or defense? How did it transform your leaning and/or future?

How do you, as a teacher, help student voices "come to the fore" as they prepare to graduate? What other opportunities exist for doing this?

What ways do students in your school(s) take stock of their educational experiences and learning prior to graduating?

What types of "rites of passage" exist for high school students in the United States beyond prom and the graduation ceremony?

(Read the first post in this series.)

Bob Lenz

Co-founder and Chief of Innovation, Envision Education, Oakland CA
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