Expect Unexpected Engagement When you try Hexagonal Thinking in ELA


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In Search of Deeper Learning: Join the Book Club

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I get to read a lot of great books about teaching. Recently, I read one I want to share with EVERYONE. It feels that important, like the guidebook that will help us leave old-school learning in the dust and sprint up the golden stairs to the new era of creative education.

It’s called In Search of Deeper Learning, by Jal Mehta and Sarah Fine. And I’d like to invite you to discuss it with me and a community of forward-thinking, creative educators online through a book club in my Facebook group, Creative High School English. We’re going to begin the conversation on the first two chapters come October 15th, and will continue to discuss the book over the coming months. Please join us! Right now the invitation is pinned to the top of the group as an announcement, and as I introduce new threads for discussion throughout the fall and early winter I’ll use the hashtag #deeperlearningbookclub so you can easily find them all.

Mehta and Fine spent many hundreds of hours in high schools across America, exploring how school structures, teaching styles, and content choices influenced the deeper learning outcomes of students. They did deep research dives into project-based learning schools, I.B. Schools, No Excuses Schools, Harkness schools, and large public high schools. They also did a careful examination of what they call the periphery – clubs, after-school activities, and electives – and came to the conclusion that core academic disciplines have a lot to learn from the alternative “grammar of schooling” that exists outside of the core.

By the end of the book, I was singing along to their tune. Loudly. Think Journey.

They push for many wonderful things, like…

  • giving teachers the respect they deserve to create meaningful courses in their own ways
  • treating students as meaning makers in their own right
  • blurring the lines between our disciplines as they work out in the world and as they function in our classrooms, adopting David Perkins’ idea of “the whole game at the junior level” 
  • creating learning communities with aspects of apprenticeship – in which younger learners can learn from adults and older, more skilled peers about how to be successful
  • choosing depth, choice, and habits of mind over breadth of content
  • respecting engagement as an important part of learning, not just some song and dance contrived to entertain students
I was so anxious not to forget anything, that I made my own GIANT sketchnotes to refer to as we discuss this book. Maybe you’ll want to make some of your own – there’s so much of value to discover and apply. (Still working on my sketchnote figure drawing – don’t be offended, Jal and Sarah, or anonymous everystudent stick figure!)
There’s more I could say here, but I really want to invite you to dive into the book and find your own favorite takeaways and ideas, so we can discuss them in the book club. Check it out from your library, download it to your Kindle, get your department to buy it, or order your own copy and come join us! 

Did you know you can learn about all your wish list ELA strategies on your daily commute or walk with The Spark Creativity Teacher Podcast? Explore one-pagers, escape rooms, sketchnotes, creative annotation options, research projects, poetry workshops, and much more through over a hundred quick episodes waiting for you on your favorite podcast player!





hey there!

I'm Betsy

I’ll help you find the creative ELA strategies that will light up your classroom. Get ready for joyful teaching!







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    • Hi there! You need to hop into the Facebook group, Creative High School English, which is linked in the post. The conversation starts tomorrow. I'm so glad you're going to join in!

  • Would this be a good read for a homeschooler? Just wondering if it's would help me in my homeschool journey and my co-op classes.

    • I think so. When you choose what types of projects to engage your own children on, this book will help you figure out what's really worthwhile. It's very much about changing the whole way we think about school, and that applies to every child in every context.

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