Starting Collaborative Inquiries

When I arrived at Lynfield College last year I found a school with a very strong Teaching as Inquiry culture. All teachers across the school were inquiring into the impact that their teaching was having on their students. This was enabled by some great scaffolded templates to help teachers who were newer to the process and time was built into the meeting schedule to help these inquiries progress.

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What if we were the IOC?

Next week the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics start and with it will start a whole wave of classes learning about the Olympics. My Year 10 class will be amongst the students learning about the Olympics over the next few weeks. However, I don’t want it to be a case of choose 1 country, find some facts and colour in the flag. I want some deeper thinking to occur.

Image via @zoelee

Image via @zoelee

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Does Design Thinking Work For Students?

Over the last couple of years there has been an explosion of teachers talking about Design Thinking. Previously unheard of, it is now fairly commonplace to hear the term used in online conversations and at education conferences. For my eFellowship research this year, I investigated whether the student experience of Design Thinking matched up to why teachers were implementing this approach in their classes.

Over the last 2 years I have read about Design Thinking, applied it to creating structures for our new school and then used a teaching approach within my classes. It has felt like a more powerful version of inquiry through it’s focus on developing empathy, students iterating their understanding and then having to use their knowledge rather than just remembering information. Many of the teachers starting to use Design Thinking in New Zealand, Australia and the US have experienced a similar feeling or hunch of Design Thinking’s effectiveness. As a relatively new approach to teaching there has been very little research done on how effective it is as a practice.

The hunch of many is that Design Thinking is effective, but is it actually working for our students? source: Wikipedia

I set out to see whether this hunch of effectiveness was actually right. Whether the teacher aims for starting to use Design Thinking are matching how the students actually experience it in class. Continue reading

Agency and Ownership

Last week I attended uLearn15, an epic conference in Auckland with 1700 teachers and 250 sponsors and exhibitors. On the first day I ran a Breakout session called Agency and Ownership: Why the How? Initially planned as a smallish interactive workshop, it proved very popular as people chose their sessions so it grew into a large presentation to around 250 people with a lot more of me talking from the front.

Core Education filmed this presentation and streamed it live from their conference website. You can watch it here (jump to 11.50 where it actually starts):

Or, if you don’t have an hour and a half spare, this post will cover the highlights.

We have all heard the terms Learner Agency and Student Ownership of Learning. We all have the same vague understandings of what these are about. This presentation was focused on working out they actually look like in the classroom. What the practices are that we as teachers can implement to enable and empower students to truly own their learning.

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Developing Student Questioning

I have a strong belief that developing student’s questioning abilities empowers them to take ownership of their learning. Strong questioning can open up learning paths and is also an important skill for being an active citizen.

Last week, our SLL team offered 3 different workshops for the Friday Staff PD session. This post is sharing the Questioning strategies I covered in my session.

QuestionStorming

QuestionStorming is exactly what it sounds like. Instead of a brainstorm where people put down as many ideas as they can, questionstorming is writing down as many questions as you can. It is a great strategy for developing students abilities to generate questions. Continue reading

How will I inquire into Design Thinking?

A while ago I shared my thinking behind why I was going to focus on Design Thinking for my eFellows inquiry (see this post here). This post is about sharing my methodology for this inquiry.

For those who don’t wish to go back and re-read my old post I have also included my aim so that you can see where this is coming from:

Aim

This research project aims to gather the student perspective in regards to Design Thinking. It will then provide a comparison with teacher aims and perspectives on using Design Thinking as a pedagogical approach. Continue reading

Empowering Learners Through Common Language

It’s hard but that’s okay because you keep trying and then it becomes easier and then it becomes fun. That’s how you learn.

This cool little quote is from my 5 year old daughter after ballet practice yesterday. Apart from the glaringly obvious growth mindset that she has at the moment, it made me start thinking about how my students would describe how they learn.

At HPSS we have our Learning Design Model that was developed out of our deep exploration of the New Zealand Curriculum. This is the language that we use to describe how learning occurs.

HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

We envision learning as cyclical (not circular otherwise you go nowhere – in Di Cavallo‘s words!) rather than linear. Continue reading

Why inquire into Design Thinking for my eFellowship?

This year I am part of Core Education’s eFellowship program. The purpose of this scholarship is to “inspire transformational practice through inquiry.” For my inquiry I am looking to explore Design Thinking which, for those who read my blog or follow me on twitter, is something that I have been passionately using lately. This year for me is a chance to put a critical eye on its use.

At our first meeting of the year in late January, we got to explore the purpose of our inquiry and here is what I managed to generate:

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Through reflection on this, more reading and a skype session with Louise Taylor who is in charge of our research from Core Education, I have put together the following plan for my inquiry: Continue reading

Ungoogleable Questions Update

By far and away my most read post on this 2 year old blog is a post on Ungoogleable Questions from almost 2 years ago. I have been meaning to update this for quite some time and #28daysofwriting has finally given me the prompt to do so.

Since I ran the workshop with staff and generated the questions shared in my earlier post I have focused on helping students develop their ability to inquire into ungoogleable questions (major shout out here to Ewan McIntosh who set me on this journey). I have used a variety of prompts, provocations and question development frameworks over these last 2 years. I have continued to read blogs (Kath Murdoch and Bo Adams blogs have pushed me in this) and books (Can Computers Keep Secrets by Tom Barrett, The Falconer by Grant Lichtman and A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger being the most influential for me) to further my thinking and practice and it is about time I share my tips now. Continue reading

An Awesome Day of Design Thinking

Tuesday proved to me just how much Design Thinking is the way I approach all aspects of school (and increasingly life) these days. In reflecting on what had happened this week I realised that Tuesday was an entire day of Design Thinking.

I started the day with my Hub completing the redesign of our space. Last week I had realised that things needed to improve with my Hub teaching so we had completed a SWOT analysis of our Hub and everyone had drawn how they would design our space to make it work for us. It was pretty clear from all the pictures that a common theme had emerged. So, away went our old space:

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And in came our new design:

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We have still kept the seating we like for Hub time – mainly ottomans and a few beanbags. But now we have got rid of any other form of seating, created a break out area and swapped the unused table that was a dumping ground for a low table that we can work on from our low seats. Early days but it has definitely created a better feel for us as a group.

After this was finished we Continue reading