Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Logo
Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning

Planning for Deeper Learning

Graphic about Deeper Learning takes the three domains of Deeper Learning to produce student outcomes.

To cultivate Mastery, Identity, and Creativity, educators should provide students with learning experiences grounded in grade-level work that is real-world, relevant, and interactive by:

  • Using high-quality, standards-aligned, grade-appropriate curricular materials
  • Adapting and teaching materials using culturally responsive practices so that students can connect their cultures, languages, and life experiences with what they are learning
  • Activating students' funds of knowledge and building schema so that students can draw connections between their learning
  • Giving students an opportunity to apply their learning in real-world contexts and to make something that is authentic and meaningful to them while showcasing their depth of knowledge.
"Schooling is the process by which you institutionalize people to accept their place in a society… Education is the process through which you teach them to transform it."
— Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, San Francisco State University

Learning experiences intentionally planned for Deeper Learning have a clear Purpose, provide students with diverse Perspectives, and require students to create meaningful Products:

  • Purpose: Students' learning experiences are grounded in a coherent, standards-aligned curriculum. This is coherent, standards-aligned content is accessible to all students and invites students to engage in the work of the field or discipline. Learning requires students to practice disciplinary skills/thinking to seek answers and/or solutions and to grapple with content within real-world, socially relevant contexts.
  • Perspectives: Educators and students not only engage with resources from diverse points of view but also analyze who is centered, who is excluded, what social narratives are preserved, and the purpose for preserving those narratives. This attention to criticality drives educators and students to deepen thinking skills to better understand the connections between content and societal contexts.
  • Products: Students create and answer questions, generate hypotheses, gather materials, discover opportunities to apply learning in a meaningful product, and share their ideas and solutions with those directly and/or indirectly impacted by the content in real-world contexts.
"We are currently preparing students for jobs that don't yet exist… using technologies that haven't yet been invented… in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."
— Richard Riley, Former United States Secretary of Education

To provide all students with consistent access to building knowledge and developing the skills necessary for tomorrow's world, it is important we plan for Deeper Learning experiences. We know that traditional models of school have not yet resulted in equitable access to excellent education for all of our students, especially students of color, multi-lingual learners, students with disabilities, and students from lower socio-economic classes.

This means that we will have to shift from traditional American models of learning to Deeper Learning. The Deeper Learning Shifts can be used to identify ways in which your instruction, school, and district have already shifted and which areas you might prioritize next.

Traditional Models of Learning Deeper Learning
Educators see all students as learners in the classroom. Educators see all students as learners in the classroom with identities and lived experiences that are assets and that can enhance learning.
Educators lead students through most of the complex thinking. Educators support students to directly engage with most of the complex thinking in ways that mirror the work of skilled apprentices in real-world contexts.
Educators ask students to engage with resources in order to enhance their learning. Educators ask students to engage with and critically examine resources in order to understand the content they are learning and its relevance in real-world contexts.
Educators use assessments as final evaluations of student learning/performance. Educators use assessments as both final and ongoing evaluations of student learning/performance in order to inform instruction and interventions.
Educators focus on teaching for standards mastery. Educators focus on teaching for both standards mastery and for building students' social awareness, political agency and driving social action.

Last Updated: May 10, 2023

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.