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Learning That Transfers

Learning That Transfers
Designing Curriculum for a Changing World

Foreword by John Hattie, Afterword by Yong Zhao

March 2021 | 312 pages | Corwin

"It is a pleasure to have a full length treatise on this most important topic, and may this focus on transfer
become much more debated, taught, and valued in our schools." - John Hattie

Teach students to use their learning to unlock new situations.

How do you prepare your students for a future that you can’t see? And how do you do it without exhausting yourself? Teachers need a framework that allows them to keep pace with our rapidly changing world without having to overhaul everything they do.

Learning That Transfers empowers teachers and curriculum designers alike to harness the critical concepts of traditional disciplines while building students’ capacity to navigate, interpret, and transfer their learning to solve novel and complex modern problems. Using a backwards design approach, this hands-on guide walks teachers step-by-step through the process of identifying curricular goals, establishing assessment targets, and planning curriculum and instruction that facilitates the transfer of learning to new and challenging situations. Key features include

  • Thinking prompts to spur reflection and inform curricular planning and design.
  • Next-day strategies that offer tips for practical, immediate action in the classroom.
  • Design steps that outline critical moments in creating curriculum for learning that transfers.
  • Links to case studies, discipline-specific examples, and podcast interviews with educators.
  • A companion website that hosts templates, planning guides, and flexible options for adapting current curriculum documents. 

Using a framework that combines standards and the best available research on how we learn, design curriculum and instruction that prepares your students to meet the challenges of an uncertain future, while addressing the unique needs of your school community. 

Foreword: The Pleasures of Teaching Transfer xiii John Hattie
Preface: Where Are We in Place and Time? Why Do We Need to Rethink Curriculum Design?
About the Authors
INTRODUCTION: Chapter Overview and How to Use This Book
CHAPTER 1: Learning Transfer: What Is It and How Can It Transform Teaching and Learning?
The Role of Concepts in Promoting Transfer

ACT: The Learning Transfer Mental Model

Putting It All Together

Envisioning the Possibilities

CHAPTER 2: Shifts in Practice: How Can We Set the Foundation for Learning That Transfers?
Shifts #1 & #2: The Roles of the Student and the Teacher

Shifts #3 & #4: The Roles of Curriculum and Instruction

Shift #5: The Role of Assessments

Shifts #6 & #7: The Roles of Leaders, Parents, and the Community

The ACT Model in Action

CHAPTER 3: Disciplinary Literacy: How Can We Unleash the Power of the Subjects We Teach?
The Power of Disciplinary Lenses: Focusing Our Attention to Move Students Toward Expertise

Establishing a Vision for Each Discipline

Articulating a Disciplinary Vision

Vertical Alignment: Your Course in the Larger Context of a Student’s Journey Through School

Determining Disciplinary Lenses for Your Course

CHAPTER 4: Modern Literacies: What Do Our Students Need to Navigate Today’s World?
Determining Modern Literacy Concepts

Horizontal Alignment to Promote Cross-Disciplinary Breadth

CHAPTER 5: The Story of Your Course: How Do We Craft a Compelling Narrative to Guide Learning?
The Critical Steps in a Transfer-Focused Course

Story of Your Course

CHAPTER 6: Unit Planning: How Do We Intentionally Design for Learning That Transfers?
Flexible Options for Unit Planning Steps

Zooming In: The Unit Planner

Assessing for Transfer

The Unit Storyboard: Planning for Similar to Dissimilar to Real-World Transfer

Preserving Space for Student Voice, Choice, and Passions

CHAPTER 7: Assessments: What Is the Role of Assessment in a Classroom Focused on Transfer?
Assessment as a System of Feedback

Summative Assessments of Transfer

Authentic Value Beyond School Walls

Planning for Formative Assessment of Transfer

Putting It All Together

CHAPTER 8: Instructional Design: Building a Community for Learning That Transfers
Highlighting the Importance of Intellectual Growth

Acquiring Understanding of Individual Concepts

Connecting Concepts in Relationship

Transferring Conceptual Relationships to New Situations

Designing Instructional Calendars

Designing Lesson Plans

Conclusion: Remaining Nimble: How Do We Continue to Evolve in an Unprecedented World?
Afterword: Learning That Matters

Learning that Transfers is a rare combination of practical and inspirational. Drawing
together concepts from psychology, neuroscience, and the learning sciences, the
authors mount a case that transfer is one of the keys to designing curriculum that can
produce deep and durable learning for the 21st century. Educators everywhere will
welcome the book for its clarity, use-value, and timeliness.

Sarah M. Fine

Accessible. Reflective. Timely. Inspiring. Engaging. By asking all of the right questions,
this book enables teachers to navigate overwhelming numbers of outcomes by creating/
uncovering complex relationships between concepts and extending learning through
real-world transfer. I want education to help develop deep thinking, compassionate
humans, and this book supports this aim fully.

Charlie Kraig

There is so much I love about this book. Learning That Transfers: Designing
Curriculum for a Changing World
provides a step-by-step process that allows readers
to connect their learning and transfer it to the work they do. It is based in research
and practice.

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D.

This is a serious and ambitious book that makes explicit connections from a model
of learning right through to curriculum design and implementation. In doing so,
it provides the reader with an explicit structure that supports their progress as they
acquire, connect and transfer what they learn, demonstrating the efficacy of their
model of learning.

Oliver Caviglioli

The authors have brilliantly captured the purpose of instruction today. Our students
MUST be able to acquire, connect and transfer knowledge and, as educators, we must
be intentional in our curriculum design to ensure that happens. This book is a great
resource for ALL 21st Century educators.

Dr. Jeff Bearden

How might we design agile curriculum that prepares learners for a wildly unpredictable
world? How might we design learning experiences for a silo-free system, even as we
continue learning inside of them? The practical wisdom and tangible tools tucked into
every nook and cranny of this ground-breaking text make this the right book for the
right time, and these are the right people to learn from.

Angela Stockman

The book guides you from “what to WOW” in a clear and concrete way, offering a
multitude of strategies as a primer to design learning that transfers. Everything in it
has been tested with diverse students around the globe by educators like you. This
work is a promise for transformation in education with an abiding focus on student
ownership, complex thinking, and relevant learning.

Alena Zink

The authors have advanced a critically important new synthesis of the science and
art of effective teaching. By focusing on the practical methods teachers can use to
help students engage deeper conceptual understanding, this book helps keep the big
questions about life, humanity, and sustainability in mind, even as we structure the
fine-grained details of everyday classroom lessons.

Dr. Susan Hanisch & Dustin Eirdosh

We live in a world of often bewildering particularities. Children begin thinking,
Vygotsky says, by assembling their immediate world into mental complexes where
particularities understood by their juxtaposition. With schooling, children learn to
organize the world by concepts or transferable patterns of meaning. The authors
of this important new book masterfully explore the way these two pivotal ideas—
concepts and their transfer—play out in educational practice.

Dr. Bill Cope

In an increasingly neoliberal world of performance and accountability, this book is a
call-to-arms for anyone passionate about real learning. The “Try Next Day” strategies
would enhance any classroom because they complement what you do already.

Gregory Anderson

For instructors

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