How Might We Reduce Scarcity?

This term I am teaching a module on Economic concepts called The Apprentice. Each week is a different challenge based upon a different concept or skill. So far we have investigated resource types, consumer rights and made an advertisement. Today our focus was on the concept of Scarcity and I decided to approach it as a 90 minute Design Thinking challenge.

As usual, we started the class with a What If question – today’s being: What if there were no chickens left in the world? With 5 minutes to write down as many ideas as possible and then sharing a few answers, 10 minutes of our precious 90 minutes a week was gone. We had, however, opened up into a divergent mindset ready to think creatively in our task at hand today (as well bemoan the loss of KFC and pancakes from our lives).

The only form of direct instruction in the lesson happened next as I led a whole class discussion on Scarcity. What does it mean, what are some examples etc. Students then chose a specific scarce resource and worked in groups for 10 minutes to generate a list of all the different things it is used for and what the issues are with it as a resource. After this the group had to come to a consensus as to what the key problem is for that resource.

We then discussed the challenge for today:

20141106_102835 Continue reading

Lessons from Term 2

While playing with family over the first week of these holidays I have been reflecting back over last term. This reflection has led to me finding 5 key takeaways to remember in future.

1. Name the Elephant in the room

If you can name the issue/concern that is bugging you at the time it arises it allows your team to move forward together much quicker. An effective team has healthy working relationships and can deal with these situations, not get stuck on taking things personally.

2. Take the time to get students defining the problem

An extremely important step in problem solving is actually defining the right problem at the start. So often students are given the problem by the teacher. This term Pete McGhie and I really found out how powerful it is to get students defining the problem themselves. More time consuming but incredible learning ensued!

3. Teach less and teach it better

Page 34 New Zealand Curriculum

Page 34 New Zealand Curriculum

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Problem Finding and Student Ownership

This term I have been co-teaching a module with Pete McGhie that has had students focusing on our developing neighbourhood, Hobsonville Point, as a place. By investigating this place we have looked to find a need facing residents and then design a product that would improve their life here.

After initial lessons focusing on developing an understanding of how place, food and culture interact as concepts we went out to explore our surroundings:

After this exploration we focused on generating as many problems as possible that we saw in the neighbourhood.

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Once we had brainstormed, shared and discussed the possible problems it was time to start defining the core problem as each group saw it. Continue reading