Reflections in Design

We do not learn from experience.

We learn from reflecting on experience.

-John Dewey

 

I read this great post from Jackie Gerstein about reflection in the maker space. I loved her cards and with many students from Grades 1-5 who are just beginning their learning journey in English, I was wondering how I could take this idea of reflection cards and eliminate the need to read in English.

The answer: Visible Thinking Routines. Specifically, Color, Symbol, Image.

My kids love to make. I want them to reflect on their time in Design but I also want to dedicate a very large chunk of our time together to making. So I needed something quick. Simple. Super easy. Something we can do in the two minutes after packing up.

So I have made a set of cards. Some colors, some symbols (thanks Keynote updated shapes!) and some images (thanks, Unsplash!). My plan is to have this deck of cards at the ready and to have kids reflect on their day in design:

What color was your day in design today?

What symbol represents you as a designer?

Which images describes how you are feeling as you leave design today?

What symbol matches your plans for our next design lesson?

What color matches your thinking in design today?

What image represents the way you worked with others?

Which symbol describes you while you were making?

What color represents how you feel about your prototype?

 

We are trying this out tomorrow. I will update this post to report how it went!  Other single subject teachers: how do you have your students reflect on their learning in your class?

If you want to download the color/symbol/image slides: Reflections in Design.

Exhibition, Design, Action!

My grade five learners are coming to the end of their self-chosen design projects. At the moment they are choosing how they want to reflect on their learning and what questions they want to be asked.

I am adding a question to their list:

How will this project inform your thinking for your work in the PYP Exhibition?

We have had a few false starts.

We have had a few failures.

We have had a few who have not used their time to best effect.

None of this matters, in my opinion, as long as this knowledge feeds forward into their next project. If they take what they learned, what worked, what didn’t, and they move forward in their learning.

So, to that end, we will be starting a new design project in a week or so in which they think about their Exhibition and think about what they are wanting to achieve. To that end, I saw a graphic on Twitter that was co-created by IB PYP teachers as a culmination of ideas from Twitter. I have recreated this graphic with some pictures to share with my learners. I want to support them in figuring out their purpose within the Exhibition and designing and creating something that moves them closer toward achieving that purpose.

Action

I like the idea of thinking about purpose and then creating and designing according to that purpose. Whilst doing this, I will be working with our IT Coach to look at how best to visually engage our audience by tapping into the work of Keri-Lee Beasley and her Design Secrets Revealed book on iTunes. This book provides a wealth of information about graphic design and effectively engaging your audience through the principles of design. It is a MUST for any teacher undertaking #pypx who can’t bear another presentation in rainbow colored Comic Sans font with ALL the transitions 🙂

 

If you are a single subject/specialist/integrator, how are you connecting with your learners undertaking the PYP Exhibition?


 

A note on student agency…

Recently, a new blog “Educator Voices” has started. A blog designed as “a place to share and celebrate how we are pushing the boundaries, shaking up the system and challenging the status quo.” It is a blog focused on making school different and there is a lot to say about student agency. I encourage you to check it out and engage in the comments on blog posts. This is a tipping point in education and in “school” as we know it. None of us have all the answers but if we keep sharing our ideas and championing each other, we are likely going to get closer to serving our kids in the best ways possible.

It Started With A Tweet…

PYPSST.001

It started with a Tweet:

Kristen and I worked together at Yokohama International School. She has a wicked sense of humor, a reflective stance on her role as a teacher, and plays a mean game of Settlers. She is also a PYP Coordinator in India, looking for ways to move teachers forward in transdisciplinary learning with specific focus on single subject teachers.

Kristen followed this initial tweet up with another offering a link to a google doc for single subject teachers to ‘sign up’.  For what? We weren’t sure…yet. Then we started to chat, and, in the spirit of teacher agency, we thought it best to turn it back to the teachers via a Twitter chat: #pypsst

We know Twitter isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but we hope this will be a start and will at the least, connect some teachers with colleagues in similar situations in different parts of the world. Having been both a homeroom teacher and a single subject teacher, it is definitely a different position and one which needs some navigating and tweaking to “get right” – however that might look for you.

The first questions for the first chat are below. Take a look. And feel free to join in – single subject teacher or not (lurkers welcome too!). We look forward to seeing where this might go.

UPDATE: I signed up on the google doc early on. There are now more than 60+ names and a bunch of questions/areas of interest that people want to pursue. Take a look and see if there is anyone you or someone at your school might connect with!


 

A note on student agency…

Recently, a new blog “Educator Voices” has started. A blog designed as “a place to share and celebrate how we are pushing the boundaries, shaking up the system and challenging the status quo.” It is a blog focused on making school different and there is a lot to say about student agency. I encourage you to check it out and engage in the comments on blog posts. This is a tipping point in education and in “school” as we know it. None of us have all the answers but if we keep sharing our ideas and championing each other, we are likely going to get closer to serving our kids in the best ways possible.

CONTROL

I wrote this post in 2013.  I could have written it yesterday. Sometimes I feel like change is so slow, that it is painful. And yet, even though I know I need to relinquish control, have I really done that…YET? Sometimes I think it is a lot easier to theorize about change than to follow through with it. You?

 

read this post on Inquire Within a couple of weeks ago and it has been sitting with me ever since.  Such good ideas in it! Please go and read it.

The post talks about all the ‘c’ words that are often used to describe education and learning in the 21st Century:

cwords

 

 

The author, Bo Adams goes on to suggest that all of these very important C words could all be ‘ruled’ by one BIG C:

control

 

CONTROL

“Control in the sense of ownership, investment and engagement, degree of agency and autonomy. Control to exercise choice. Control to pursue curiosity.”

And here is where I am really won over:

…in the giving of control, I believe we provide student learners with more opportunities to practice the skills organically and authentically than if we assign them work organized into the seven “Cs.” Through the autonomy of control – motivated by the control of choice – we naturally invest ourselves in those seven “Cs.” When we feel in control, we learn to take control, and we develop our capacities to maintain good control.

-Bo Adams

This is brilliant – and at the same time, can be really hard for adults to do.

We are in the middle of our PYP Exhibition and it is all about the kids being in control of their own learning.  There are guidelines and supports in the form of checklists, workshops, and mentors, but ultimately, the kids are in control. And that can be hard for teachers and parents to deal with but so worth it for everyone if we can learn to back off a little and trust in the process, trust in the child, and be mindful of where they are at and how we can best support their learning.

Giving control of learning to the child doesn’t mean sitting in the corner with your feet up and letting them flounder.  It means becoming an observer, a guide, a road map of sorts – ready to be referenced.  It means being attuned to what is going on in your classroom and being prepared to ask for clarification from the children in your class.  It means posing the right questions, sharing the right provocations, providing the appropriate amount of time for them to work their magic.

It also means modeling the characteristics we expect in our children:

  • We have to take risks even (or especially!) when we don’t know what the outcome will be.
  • We have to believe in our mission and vision and make sure we are not just talking the talk.
  • We have to be a beacon of change if we are expecting our kids to do school differently.
  • And we have to be prepared to let go of control ourselves, so that our kids can see what that looks like.

What kind of educator are you?

One that thrives on being in control or one that is prepared to let go, even in the face of possible failure?

One of the people I look to in terms of someone who reimagines education is Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy. In his book, The One World Schoolhouse, he says the following:

sal khan

 

To me, this is what CONTROL is all about.  Creating a nurturing and supportive classroom environment in which children are actively engaged in their own learning.


 

A note on student agency…

Recently, a new blog “Educator Voices” has started. A blog designed as “a place to share and celebrate how we are pushing the boundaries, shaking up the system and challenging the status quo.” It is a blog focused on making school different and there is a lot to say about student agency. I encourage you to check it out and engage in the comments on blog posts. This is a tipping point in education and in “school” as we know it. None of us have all the answers but if we keep sharing our ideas and championing each other, we are likely going to get closer to serving our kids in the best ways possible.

We(chat) Are The Champions

quote.jpg

In the PYP Exhibition we have mentors. How this plays out can look different from school to school. As the PYP Exhibition is a culminating experience of learning from the PYP program, it has been common practice in many schools to expect all teachers from the whole school to participate. To that end, I have worked in schools where each child had their own mentor. I have also worked in schools where we have one mentor per group of children.

In thinking about authentic connections and about student agency, I am thinking about how we can help kids during the exhibition connect with people who can help move them forward. This may be their mentor, or it may be someone else who can offer fresh ideas and expertise.

At One Stone – an independent and tuition free high school in Boise, Idaho – they have Champions. Anyone can be a champion – just join their Facebook group and you’re in! A champion is there to do just that: champion the learners. Cheer them on, bounce ideas off, listen, offer feedback, critique, provide expertise. You don’t have to do anything until you see or hear something that catches your eye, sparks your interest. And then you’re in until…well, until you’re out. Sometimes they need champions to listen to pitches for a few minutes, give feedback on presentations, offer help with translations, or just bring sandwiches. Your commitment lies in your willingness to say yes when an opportunity pops up that you connect with.

How might we harness this protocol for #pypx?

What about a WeChat group of PYPx Champions?  You join because you want to help but you don’t want to commit to a certain time each week on the off chance that what you can offer meshes with what the kids need. You join because you know a lot about a bunch of things but not really enough to consider yourself an expert on any one thing. You join because you love learning and you hope that someone wants to share their learning with you. You join because you’re a teacher and you can spare 15 minutes to listen to some song lyrics and give feedback but can’t spare the time to be a mentor on a weekly basis.

What about a Human Library? We have floated the idea of human libraries before. Having a bank of human resources from within our community that our kids can “check out”.  This requires the big humans “checking in” first and classifying their expertise and is a lot of work for something that might not be used.

What about seeking Feedforward? Sam Sherratt recently shared on Twitter:

I checked with Sam, and the papers are “a printout of a google doc students use to capture their latest thinking and that “consultants” can leave feedforward in. Also links to their blogs.”

I like all these ideas, to be honest. But then I think about them in the context of student agency. And even as I type this, I think: “Am I confusing agency with intrinsic motivation”? To explain: the first option, that of WeChat Champions, seems most geared toward agentic learning. A call goes out, people respond and join the group, and then things only move forward if the kids reach out to people in the group. No one needs to alphabetize the humans in the library, no one needs to print the google docs. But will all kids be served by this model? Will some slip under the radar? Will only the intrinsically motivated reach out to the group for support?

OR, do we need to scaffold by having the library or printing the google doc? Perhaps, like most things, it is about balance, about having options, and about trial and error and figuring out what works for your particular cohort of kids in this particular moment?

How do you support your kids during #pypx or within other units to connect with people who can help move their ideas forward?

 

A note on student agency…

Recently, a new blog “Educator Voices” has started. A blog designed as “a place to share and celebrate how we are pushing the boundaries, shaking up the system and challenging the status quo.” It is a blog focused on making school different and there is a lot to say about student agency. I encourage you to check it out and engage in the comments on blog posts. This is a tipping point in education and in “school” as we know it. None of us have all the answers but if we keep sharing our ideas and championing each other, we are likely going to get closer to serving our kids in the best ways possible.