It was a great time of learning, connection, and celebration at our second annual Christian Deeper Learning conference held at Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco, Texas on March 6-8! A couple of highlights for attendees were the keynote speech given by one of the deeper learning pioneers in the national movement, Ron Berger from EL Education; and a presentation of learning keynote by students from Surrey Christian School in British Columbia (watch for an upcoming blog post on this presentation!)
This year we also added three pre-conference offerings that focused on specific aspects of being a teacher:
- Teacher as Learner: What It Feels Like to Be a Deeper Learner. Learners were immersed in a “learning slice” with refugees at the Dallas Northwest Community Center. Participants not only gained understanding of the work being done at the Center, but also interacted with refugees, learning about and articulating their experiences.
- Teacher as Designer: Designing Deeper Learning Experiences. Designers learned about deeper learning examples and tools. Then they were led into designing their own deeper learning experiences to bring back to their schools.
- Teacher as Explorer: Using the Outdoors as a Teaching Tool. Explorers were immersed in an outdoor education program and learned methods to effectively incorporate outdoor education with students.
We were encouraged by connecting with nearly 200 educators from Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, and the United States around this important work with schools and students. We couldn’t hold this event without a dedicated planning team putting in many hours behind the scenes and the great presenters who came and lead us. We are grateful to our Legacy Christian hosts and our many supportive sponsors. Attendee feedback was very positive. One participant said, “Thank you for the exceptional organization and incredibly practical conference. All the content and presentations have provided many ideas and strategies that can be implemented when going back to school.”
We seek to build further understanding of what Christian Deeper Learning is all about. You can explore the related posts on this CACE site and watch for further information under the Deeper Learning tab. We asked our participants to put in their own words what they understood Christian Deeper Learning to be about. Here are some examples:
- Engaging students in learning that takes them into skills and knowledge that excites and builds their confidence and growth both as learners and disciples of Christ.
- The given definition is great: people of God’s story engaged in real work that forms self and shapes the world. Learning that begins and ends with the Gospel and is joyful. I would add that it is modeled after Jesus’ pedagogy.
- Deeper Learning means engaging instructional practices, curriculum that is both rigorous and serves an authentic audience, formative as well as summative assessments, and intentional character formation and spiritual development.
- Connecting students to God’s story and world in a deeply engaging way while making a restorative impact in the community through learning activities.
- At our school we talk about deeper learning as a way for students to find and play their role in God’s story. We do that by having students choose ways that they can be involved in real work, with real problems, for a real audience.
We will soon be announcing our conference site for next year and our keynote speaker–we can hardly wait to tell you! In the meantime, watch the CACE website for upcoming professional development information on Christian Deeper Learning.
Dan Beerens is an educational consultant, author, international speaker, and educational leader. Before starting Dan Beerens Consulting in May 2010, he served as Vice President of Learning Services and Director of Instructional Improvement at Christian Schools International. Prior to that, he was the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for Holland Christian Schools. Dan has also worked as teacher and principal in urban and suburban public and Christian schools in Wisconsin and Illinois. He serves as a Senior Fellow at CACE (Center for the Advancement of Christian Education), represents Curriculum Trak sales and professional development and serves as co-chair of the annual Christian Deeper Learning conference. He blogs regularly for CACE and is the author of Evaluating Teachers for Professional Growth: Creating a Culture of Motivation and Learning (Corwin Press) and co-editor of the recent book MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education (ACSI).