Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Essence of DOK

The other day I ran across this tweet and thought to myself, "This visual reminder is exactly what we need when we are trying to help kids learn at DOK levels 2, 3 and 4 in our instruction."  Now the first assumption I made was that the goal of this visual was to get kids to teach others, and that is a great goal for any instruction. After all, the expert must know the concept deeply with familiarity, and teacher must transcend that level of expertise.   But as I synthesized the tweet a little bit longer, I said, "95% retention isn't good enough for someone to become an expert.  

So let's put all of those components together:  reading about a topic, hearing about a topic, seeing the topic, discussing the topic, experiencing the topic and teaching about the topic, that would add up to roughly 275% retention rate.  What I mean is this.  If a student has learning opportunities to learn a given concept at all of those levels, there's a pretty good chance that the student would have a tremendous depth of knowledge and high rate of retention about that concept.

Passive isn't always Bad

Passive learning is perceived as bad and active learning is perceived as good, but that's not necessarily the case.  Passive learning is a great way to activate introspective learning.  It grounds students to a central concept when introducing new skills.  Through listening, reading or hearing,  a student can internalize new learning to make meaning.  If students don't have an opportunity to internalize content on the front end, they'll have a difficult time generating products of mastery on the back-end.

Active is the Real-World

There are very few professions that require a person to merely think without producing a product.  Active learning is the real-world because every profession requires employees to use  their knowledge to produce results.  Instruction must produce results, and that means learning requires meaningful work.  Meaningful work starts with application, and sadly that is where traditional learning stops.  Authentic learning takes application and leads to creation, evaluation and presentation.  Why do you think teachers are so good at their content?  It's because they are constantly creating, evaluating and reflecting on their content.  Students need those same learning opportunities to master content.

Link to Visual

The Essence of DOK

The pathway to Depth of Knowledge is neither passive nor active.  It is both.  Learning requires activity and interaction as well as internal reflection and synthesis.  Educators mustn't subscribe to the theory that activity is the only way to help kids learn, but it mustn't cling to the safety of sterile and quiet learning spaces either.  The essence of depth of knowledge is knowing the depth of mastery for your content, the learning styles of your students and the best strategies to help all students get as close to 270% mastery of that content.

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