Upper School Depth of Knowledge (DOK)
The upper school Depth of Knowledge (DOK) schedule is designed to provide additional time for deeper, dynamic learning opportunities: reflection, exploration, differentiation, and formative performance tasks that make learning visible. This model promotes dynamic instruction to our oldest students, much like the Reggio approach does to our youngest students. The longer amounts of time with less structure allow more opportunities for students to become masters.
The instruction on DOK days targets what are often called unconstrained learning skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. As opposed to constrained skills that are limited by the boundaries of content and are acquired at concrete stages of development, unconstrained skills are boundless and continue to grow throughout life. With longer class periods, DOK days create a space to develop unconstrained skills by using content to facilitate extended activities such as projects, group work, class debates and discussions, feedback and reflection, problem-solving investigations, and more. This schedule provides us the opportunity to dive deeper into the subject matter and let our students explore with more autonomy.
From a practical perspective, the DOK schedule has varied impacts on classes across the curriculum. Students in science classes are offered the opportunity to yield more immediate data and reflect on their findings in a more comfortable setting than they are in a traditional seven-period day. Moreover, the context of the lab and the discussion of hypotheses can take center stage for a longer period of time because the learning environment isn’t rushed. Likewise, students in a class like Understanding the Southern Mystique are able to dive far deeper into their project-based curriculum and work alongside the faculty members to develop meaningful commentary about the subject matter they are investigating. Students can get real-time feedback, and the class can explore topics that might not be breached in a traditional fifty minute class due to time constraints. From the arts to STEAM to world language, the learning environment manifested by the DOK schedule places students at the forefront of the learning experience and allows them to push the narrative more than they can within the constraints of shorter class periods.