Though definitions of “deeper learning” vary widely, we believe and have learned from many of our authors that deeper learning is about moving past formulas and facts, and understanding the bigger concepts behind that surface-level knowledge. It’s not that surface knowledge is any less important than deep knowledge; it’s just that, for the most part, we know how to teach surface-level knowledge. The hard part is moving students beyond that, to deeper learning.
All of the standards updated in recent years—CCSS, NGSS, and the myriad state standards—emphasize conceptual understanding over surface knowledge. To help you move your students into deeper levels of learning and understanding, here are several books from expert teachers:
Transitioning to Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction by Lynn Erickson and Lois Lanning
How can you spot a thinking child? Look at the eyes: they’ll light up, signaling that transformative moment when your student has finally grasped that big idea behind critical academic content. If experiences like this are all too rare in your school, then you need a curriculum and instruction model that’s more inquiry-driven and idea-centered. Now.
H. Lynn Erickson and Lois Lanning demonstrate how, through concept-based curriculum, you can move beyond superficial coverage and lower-level skills practice to effect intellectually engaging pedagogy, where students engage in problem finding and problem solving.
“Powerful teaching engages minds with powerful ideas. At its core, such transformative teaching is neither transmission of information nor practice with inert skills. Rather it is a careful choreography between a mind and an idea such that the mind comes to own the idea in a form that is true to the discipline and expansive for the learner. Erickson and Lanning teach teachers to be choreographers of learning—understanding both what makes content worth knowing and how to engage young minds with that content in ways that extend their capacities to understand it at a deeper level, use it, transfer it, and ultimately create with it.”
Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy
Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Visible Learning for Literacy, Grades K-12 by Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie
“Every student deserves a great teacher, not by chance, but by design” — Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, & John Hattie
What if someone slipped you a piece of paper listing the literacy practices that ensure students demonstrate more than a year’s worth of learning for a year spent in school? Would you keep the paper or throw it away?
We think you’d keep it. And that’s precisely why acclaimed educators Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and John Hattie wrote Visible Learning for Literacy. They know teachers will want to apply Hattie’s head-turning synthesis of more than 15 years of research involving millions of students, which he used to identify the instructional routines that have the biggest impact on student learning.
These practices are “visible” for teachers and students to see, because their purpose has been made clear, they are implemented at the right moment in a student’s learning, and their effect is tangible. Yes, the “aha” moments made visible by design.
Coming soon: Visible Learning for Mathematics, K-12
Concept-Based Mathematics: Teaching for Deep Understanding in Secondary Classrooms by Jennifer Wathall
If your secondary-school students are fearful of or frustrated by math, it’s time for a new approach. When you teach concepts rather than rote processes, you show students math’s essential elegance, as well as its practicality—and help them discover their own natural mathematical abilities.
This book is a road map to retooling how you teach math in a deep, clear, and meaningful way —through a conceptual lens—helping students achieve higher-order thinking skills. Jennifer Wathall shows you how to plan units, engage students, assess understanding, incorporate technology, and even guides you through an ideal concept-based classroom.
“Jennifer Wathall’s book is one of the most forward thinking mathematics resources on the market. While highlighting the essential tenets of Concept-Based Curriculum design, her accessible explanations and clear examples show how to move students to deeper conceptual understandings. This book ignites the mathematical mind!” — Lois A. Lanning, Author of Designing Concept-based Curriculum for English-Language Arts, K-12
Inquire Within: Implementing Inquiry- and Argument-Based Science Standards in Grades 3-8, 3rd edition, by Douglas Llewellyn
Like most teachers, are you struggling to make sense of the many recent shifts in science education, especially the NGSS? Luckily Doug Lllewellyn is here to guide you every step along the way. His two big aims with this new edition of Inquire Within? To help you engage students in activities and explorations that draw on their big questions, then build students’ capacity to defend their claims. Always striking a balance between the “why” and the “how,” this third edition models what the new reform efforts looks like in day-to-day practice.
“Llewellyn’s model of teaching and his rich array of practical examples can help every teacher and student to experiences that clearly illustrate what scientists and engineers do. This is certainly a guide for the next generation of great teachers.”
—Juliana Texley, President-Elect
National Science Teachers Association
Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry by Jane Krauss and Suzie Boss
Are you eager to try out project-based learning, but don’t know where to start? How do you ensure that classroom projects help students develop critical thinking skills and meet rigorous standards? Find the answers in this step-by-step guide, written by authors who are both experienced teachers and project-based learning experts.
Thinking Through Project-Based Learning shows you how to create a more interactive classroom environment where students engage, learn, and achieve.
“Ensuring that students take the lead in critical thinking and problem solving is the key to success. This book provides educators with the tools to get students ready for real-world learning and collaboration.”
—Tania E. Dymkowski, Instructional Support K-8
Hays CISD, Kyle, TX
Deeper Learning With QR Codes and Augmented Reality by Monica Burns
One of the benefits of using technology is the myriad ways it can be used to differentiate and assess learning. In this book, Monica Burns shares how QR codes and Augmented Reality in particular can provide new learning experiences through the ACES framework: Access, Curate, Engage, and Share.
“Burns provides practical ideas for integrating QR and AR in the classroom. As AR and QR continue to play a bigger role in education, this book is a great starting point for teachers to integrate engaging tools and strategies in their classrooms.”
—Zachary Walker, Professor and Educational Consultant
National Institute of Education, Singapore
Lessons and Units for Closer Reading, K-2: Ready-To-Go Resources and Assessment Tools Galore by Nancy Boyles
With Lessons and Units for Closer Reading: K-2 you get 20 initial close reading lessons and 80 follow-up comprehension skill lessons that expertly scaffold young readers. What makes these lessons so spot-on is that Nancy combed through hundreds of standards and standardized assessments to arrive at the 12 skills that matter most at K–2.
The lessons are arranged into 5 units of study, providing you with instant standards-aligned curriculum.
Mindsets and Moves: Strategies That Help Readers Take Charge, Grades 1-8 by Gravity Goldberg
What if you could have an owner’s manual on reading ownership? What if there really were a framework for building students’ agency and independence?
There’s no “what if?” about it. When it comes to teaching reading, Gravity Goldberg declares there is a structure, one that works with your current curriculum, to help readers take charge. The way forward Gravity says lies in admiring, studying, and really getting to know your students.
Consider Mindsets & Moves your guide. Here, Gravity describes how to let go of our default roles of assigner, monitor, and manager and instead shift to a growth mindset. Easily replicable in any setting, any time, her 4 M framework ultimately lightens your load because they allow students to monitor and direct their reading lives.
“Mindsets and Moves addresses, in a very engaging way, the most important aspects of classroom literacy instruction. It shows how to think about and interact with children around literacy. Thoroughly grounded in current theories, which are clearly explained and illustrated with stories and examples, the book is absolutely practical with excellent examples of lessons, anchor charts and all of the necessary details.” — Peter Johnston, Author of Choice Words and Opening Minds
The Education Revolution: How to Apply Brain Science to Improve Instruction and School Climate by Horacio Sanchez
In The Teaching Revolution Horacio Sanchez, a leader in the fields of education and resiliency, synthesizes the current and most relevant findings in neuroscience and psychology and explains not only how those findings impact education but also how they can be applied within the classroom and school-wide.
The first half of the book is dedicated to identifying specific teaching strategies applying brain research. For example, incorporating physical movement into a lesson helps the brain understand abstract concepts. Later chapters look at how the most recent research on neurobiology can guide teachers to better utilize any curriculum to meet desired outcomes. Later parts of the book focus on how to apply the latest findings in neurobiology to address the range of negative behaviors plaguing schools today, such as bullying, poor eating habits, and cheating. What educators want most are solutions that help them improve student achievement, restore students’ desire to learn, and manage student behavior. This book provides them all.
Teacher as Activator of Learning by Gayle Gregory
In his well-known meta-analysis, John Hattie suggests that facilitating learning is not as effective or powerful as activating learning. In this book Gayle Gregory shows you how to facilitate better and deeper learning. Packed with practical strategies that teachers can use every day to increase student achievement, you will also discover what educational neuroscience says about nurturing a “growth mindset” and creating classrooms that support and encourage students to take risks and “fail forward.”
“In going from ‘teachers as fount of knowledge’ to ‘teacher as facilitator’ the field has overcorrected. Gayle Gregory corrects all that with a comprehensive and deep portrayal of the need for ’teachers to be activators’ of learning in partnership with students. Based on equal measure of research and practice Gregory gives is a compelling set of ideas and tools to maximize student learning and engagement. Read it and hit the ground running!”
—Michael Fullan, Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto