The Learning Pit – and its broader lesson-planning framework, the Learning Challenge –reassures students on their learning journey. It offers students encouragement when they are struggling; shows how normal it is to be confused or frustrated when learning something new; and illustrates the steps that can be taken to improve learning outcomes.
The Learning Challenge is needed because so many students avoid challenge or give up at the first signs of struggle. In a systematic review of 18 studies about the effects of giving students control over their learning, Abbey Karich and her colleagues found that most people choose tasks that are well within their capabilities so as not to risk failure (Karich, Burns & Maki, 2014). Those who do step out of their comfort zone are often disheartened by setbacks or worried about looking silly in front of others. These anxieties can be compounded by the notion that a) it isn’t normal to struggle (when in fact it is); and that b) those who struggle will never be successful (whereas the contrary is true – success in any field of endeavour typically involves overcoming difficulties and disappointments).
By being honest about these difficulties and frustrations – as well as offering strategies that can be used to overcome such obstacles – the Learning Challenge can help to reverse the trend of students staying within their comfort zone. Indeed, tens of thousands of educators in schools across the world are already using images of the Learning Pit to illustrate the likely sequence of events when learning something new; teachers are also using the Learning Challenge framework to plan lessons that place desirable difficulties at the heart of student engagement.
Benefits of This Book Study Masterclass
Choose this masterclass if you wish to develop a deep, nuanced understanding of the Learning Pit and the Learning Challenge. It will help you enhance your professional expertise and boost your students’ learning in the following ways:
- Know how, when and why to CHALLENGE students appropriately so that they are better able to move from surface knowledge to deep understanding.
- Build the SOCIAL & EMOTIONAL LEARNING of your students by giving them the opportunity to collaborate with each other in a caring, collaborative and thoughtful way as they go through the Learning Pit.
- Understand how best to use Learning Pit Tools to build your students’ repertoire of PROBLEM-SOLVING and thinking skills, including reasoning, inference, connection and pattern recognition.
- Be able to place CONCEPTS at the heart of lesson (or curriculum) design so that students are afforded more opportunity to build a holistic understanding of the world.
- Create a LEARNING CULTURE that combines intellectual risk-taking with psychological safety so that all students make excellent progress socially as well as academically.
- create a baseline to compare to when tracking the outcomes of this masterclass
- collect examples of student voice as a central focus for your baseline
- create an account and set up your masterclass portfolio
- understand some of the ways the Learning Pit can be used to support student learning
- identify the ways in which the Learning Pit connects with educational theory and research
- understand the terminology associated with the Learning Pit and Learning Challenge
- introduce the Learning Pit to your students clearly and accurately
- use a prepared lesson to familiarise your students with the four stages of the Learning Challenge
- respond positively to tasks and ideas that are challenging
- demonstrate open-mindedness towards alternative explanations and viewpoints
- offer reasons and examples to support their thinking using a shared language for learning
- seek clarification and check assumptions so as to better understand others
- show an interest in other people by listening carefully and connecting to their ideas
- know what a concept is and how to recognise one
- identify the most important concepts from across the curriculum
- draw out concepts from images and texts
- create a wide range of thought-provoking questions that can be used as the starting point for questioning sequences that take everybody into the Learning Pit
- think about the criteria that can be used to select the ‘best’ questions
- go beyond their first answer by considering alternative factors and possibilities
- avoid snap judgements, preferring instead to offer more nuanced, carefully considered answers
- examine ambiguity so as to better understand complexity
- recognise when they are in a state of cognitive conflict and understand why this can be beneficial to their learning
- know how to compare, contrast and sequence information more effectively
- are able to identify the key features and characteristics of important concepts
- construct coherent lines of reasoning collaboratively as well as individually
- make convincing and relevant links and comparisons within subjects and across the curriculum
- develop metacognitive strategies for reviewing and evaluating their learning journey
- make good use of the Learning Pit to encourage your students into a growth mindset
- connect the Learning Pit with the SOLO Taxonomy to deepen your understanding of both models
- adapt the use of the Learning Pit to better support the needs of all students
- lead the introduction and implementation of the Learning Pit & Learning Challenge across your school
- move from using the exemplar lessons in the Learning Challenge books to creating your own examples that are tailor-made for your students
- compare current student learning to the baseline to determine impact
- reflect on student progress and contributing factors
- determine next steps