The Learning Challenge
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The Learning Challenge
How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit to Achieve Deeper Understanding

Foreword by John Hattie



May 2017 | 280 pages | Corwin

Embrace challenge and celebrate eureka!

Challenge makes learning more interesting. That’s one of the reasons to encourage your students to dive into the learning pit—a state of cognitive conflict that forces students to think more deeply, critically, and strategically until they discover their “eureka!” moment. Nottingham, an internationally known author and consultant, will show you how to promote challenge, dialogue, and a growth mindset through:

  • Practical strategies that guide students through the four stages of the Learning Challenge
  • Engaging lesson plan ideas and classroom activities
  • Inspiring examples from Learning Challenges across the world

If you and your students focus on grades alone then rich learning opportunities might be missed along the way.  A more rigorous and exploratory path to learning leads to a deeper understanding of concepts.  When students experience The Learning Challenge, learning lasts for a lifetime.

"Nottingham shows us how to use generative concepts as focal points for engaging deep student thinking and discourse. His visual model of 'pits and peaks' helps us realize that cooperatively grappling with cognitive conflicts in the pit is necessary to eventually reach new peaks of understanding. Nottingham provides a wealth of strategies, tools and examples to aid the teacher. The vast array of questions to stimulate student thinking is second to none."

H. Lynn Erickson, Educational Consultant
Author, Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom, 2nd ed.


"Nottingham has provided a clear, concise, and research-based approach to creating cognitively challenging classrooms that captivate, activate, and invigorate learners. This book takes every reader through the learning pit, challenging their prior beliefs, and leads them to construct and consider an innovative way to promote stronger and deeper learning for their students."

John Almarode, Professor of Education & Co-Director of the Center for STEM Education and Outreach
James Madison University, College of Education, Harrisonburg VA

 
Foreword by John Hattie
 
Preface
 
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Learning Challenge
 
Chapter 2: The Learning Challenge in Practice
 
Chapter 3: The Learning Challenge Culture
 
Chapter 4: Concepts
 
Chapter 5: Cognitive Conflict
 
Chapter 6: Construct Meaning
 
Chapter 7: Consider Your Learning
 
Chapter 8: Mindset Matters
 
Chapter 9: Links and Perspectives
 
Chapter 10: The Learning Challenge in Action
 
Appendix
 
Index of Concepts
 
References
 
Index

"James Nottingham’s work on Challenging Learning is a critical element of creating Visible Learners. This new series will help teachers hone the necessary pedagogical skills of dialogue, feedback, questioning, and mindset. There’s no better resource to encourage all learners to know and maximize their impact!"

John Hattie, Professor & Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute
University of Melbourne

"In The Learning Challenge, James Nottingham shows us how to use generative concepts as focal points for engaging deep student thinking and discourse. His visual model of “pits and peaks” helps us realize that cooperatively grappling with cognitive conflicts in the pit is necessary to eventually reach new peaks of understanding. Nottingham provides a wealth of strategies, tools and examples to aid the teacher. The vast array of questions to stimulate student thinking is second to none."

H. Lynn Erickson, Educational Consultant
Author, Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom, 2nd ed., Everett, WA

"In this era of rapid change, cognitive conflict is a constant challenge to be faced. James Nottingham’s Learning Challenge offers learners of all ages a place to be and a process to recognise and engage with. Offering young learners the opportunity to contend with the tension that goes with being 'in the Pit' and think and talk about their own learning is immensely valuable. My experience, working with this concept is that it works!"

Simon Feasey, School Principal
Bader Primary School, Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, England

"Research into how we learn has continued to highlight the value of desirable difficulties.  Wrestling with big ideas, although uncomfortable at times, leads to stronger, deeper learning.  However, in the age of accountability, classroom teachers are finding it difficult to set aside time for such wrestling in exchange for more test preparation.  James Nottingham has provided a clear, concise, and research-based approach to creating cognitively challenging classrooms that captivate, activate, and invigorate learners.  This book takes every reader through the learning pit, challenging their prior beliefs, and leads them to construct and consider a new and innovative way to promote stronger and deeper learning for their students." 

John Almarode, Professor of Education & Co-Director of the Center for STEM Education and Outreach
James Madison University, College of Education, Harrisonburg VA

"We all recognize that schooling is no longer about imparting information in the hope that it will be put to good use. We know good schooling is about providing students with continuous opportunities to develop the ability and practices to think deeply. Deep learning is hard work. It is complex, complicated, not particularly comfortable at times (see ‘The Pit’). In The Learning Challenge, Nottingham takes us through the four stages of the Learning Challenge, a framework for thinking and learning, in which students learn to step out of their comfort zone so that they can make meaning and connections in order to engage in deep thinking. 

Hattie (2016) states that 90% of what is taught in schools is at the surface level. That is not a comforting statistic. In The Learning Challenge, James Nottingham has provided us a clear path for engaging students in deep and meaningful learning complete with student-friendly language, stages and steps, examples, tools and tactics to guide us in engaging students in rigorous learning."

Barb Pitchford, Co-author
Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy (2016)
Key features
Teachers will find:
  • Detailed explanations & graphics of the Learning Pit & the Learning Challenge
  • Several lesson plan ideas across grade levels and subject areas
  • Practical strategies for guiding students through each stage of the Learning Challenge
  • Classroom activities
  • Examples from Learning Challenges across the world

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1 Sample


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ISBN: 9781506376424

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