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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 articulates the interconnected relationships between past and
present knowledge, offering a framework for future learning that will stand strong as
education evolves. As a teacher educator, I value the fusion of theory combined with
practical “Next-Day Strategies” that make this book a valuable addition to any teacher
preparation program.

Michele Dugan

Imagine an education system that “empowers teachers and students to tackle the
problems facing us in the 21st century and beyond”. It’s possible and this book shows
us how. With equal parts inspiration and practical implementation, the authors detail
the strategies, tools and supports they use in their own classrooms to enable their
students to thrive in an unknowable future. HIGHLY recommend!

Julie M Wilson

As educators, we constantly strive to prepare our learners to navigate the complexities
of their world. Drawing on latest research, the authors articulate a compelling visual
model that enables students to apply their understanding to new contexts. Learning
that Transfers
is a must for teachers who are seeking ways to provide opportunities for
authentic learning.

Richard Healy

Our world is increasingly complex and preparing our students for tomorrow depends
on our teacher’s ability to teach more than just curriculum. Learning That Transfers is a
thoughtful and essential guide for any educator concerned with preparing students to
meet challenges through deep, powerful thinking and learning.

Katie Graham

What a fantastic resource! This book is loaded with concrete examples of how to
design meaningful and engaging learning experiences for students. I felt empowered
as I read each chapter, thinking the ideas could easily be integrated into my practice
immediately. This book should be a mandatory resource in every school and in teacher
education programs.

Jenni Donohoo

In a connected and complex world, our ability to navigate myriad contexts becomes
paramount. What’s essential in that world? Learning transfer. Immediately practical,
drawing on diverse scholarship and rich classroom experience, this book reveals the
what, why, and how of learning transfer, for teachers of all types. This is a must-read
for anyone striving for equity and excellence in education.

Michael Crawford, PhD

No one today would suggest that we live in a stable world with little change, little need
to adapt as individuals, to meet the challenges of the next several months let alone the
next 10, 20 or 30 years. Ch 4 Modern Literacies alone is why every educator should
read this book. Like never before we must teach and lead our students not for a final
exam, but for life. This book will help.

Dr. Rick Gilson

It’s a uniquely human trait to make deep meaning out of knowledge, giving it
significance and context. Through the ACT mental model, practical examples of shifts
in practice, guidance in curriculum planning and more, Learning That Transfers is
a text that empowers readers to reframe learning and build in that deeper level of
meaning that makes all the difference in revolutionizing education.

Caitlin Krause

Outstanding resource for helping instructional coaches realize what their focus should be. Plenty of thinking questions and templates. Will be using this for a Summer 2022 course that I am designing.

Dr Barbara Flanagan
Graduate Education, Lincoln Memorial University
September 9, 2021

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