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Traces… (post-workshop reflections part 1)

May 7th, 2012

It is Monday afternoon after the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop and this is my office floor…

Sifting through this eclectic pile of paper reveals fascinating traces of  thoughts and conversations that took place at the Workshop.   The researcher in me is puzzling now about what to do with the traces I have. Can I pull them together into some kind of coherent narrative about what happened, or even just find a way to share them back out as a resource for the people who were there? Should I keep everything? Should I have someone type all these up for me? Should I take photos of everything?

Yet I know that for every thought, question, or idea written down and currently residing on my office floor, are dozens and hundreds of others that exist now only in the memories of those who experience them last week, and even pulling together the best of what’s on my floor right now isn’t going to fully capture that. And that’s just the paper trail… we still have various video footage, photos, and other bits and pieces that record traces of Shifting Thinking in different media and many decisions to make about what to do with it all!

What next? Where to from here? How will you track or measure what difference has this made? These are the kinds of questions people were asking me at the Workshop. I’m not sure yet, I said. I don’t know. Those are a great questions. I wonder that too. What do YOU think? I feel like I should have had better answers, but I don’t yet. I hope you will keep asking me though, and I hope you will keep asking yourselves that too, because these are the questions that will take us towards our next opportunit(ies) for building something together again (maybe in a future Shifting Thinking workshop, or maybe in one of the new spaces that has been created in your own thinking, or in your new connections to ideas or to other people).

There’s more post-match analysis to come; of course. We will be sending out a post-workshop evaluation form, and thinking about how we can stay connected and keep feeding the energy for our work  and of our “shifting thinking”. We’ll have a go at getting a selection of the most interesting and useful  traces from the Workshop up onto this website so they are there for all of the Shifting Thinking community to use. But for now,  I will leave you with a few traces that I have picked up from crumpled-up balls of paper on my floor. Maybe they were your words or the words of someone you sat with or talked to at the Workshop, and perhaps they will inspire you to share more thoughts and reflections about your Workshop experience

Reminded of how thinking can shift when you work with other people.

I’ve been smiling so much my face hurts.

Liberated. Confidence to make the change. Empowered to do so. Opened my mind. Energised.

Being in the room with people who are curious – may not know the answers…. but curious!

Being with people who “get it”!! Who are excited by the process of learning and what that may mean for creating active citizens.

Use the students – consult! They are our resource.

I have had time to listen and space to think about connectoins between ideas – it has been helpful/productive/purposeful.

Risks have to be taken.

Inspiredness about connectedness and possibilities.

 

 

 

 

Workshop 2012

Growing complex

April 23rd, 2012

I am on the long flight home from a series of workshops and classes in Boston: at Harvard, at Children’s Hospital, with world-class coaches and consultants. In each of these places, the idea of complexity looms large—not just because I bring it along, but because it’s already there.

I ask my participants about the increasing complexity in their lives and give them time to think about it. They erupt in a storm of talking. Their lives are more complex on every dimension: there are more uncertainties to watch, there are more interconnections among the parts, there are more players in each of the realms, some in person, and some virtually. Everyone has a story of the way their work is increasingly international, from the 20 countries represented in my class at the Kennedy School to the students who have never left the US but are connected to people around the world. The swirling together of uncertainty, diversity, and change leave these people–graduate students, doctors, teachers, and leaders at the top of their careers—all a little dizzy and confused.

While there are no key competencies easily named in these many places, these folks are thinking hard about participating and contributing in a more complex and global reality.

How is it, though, that we can grow better able to deal with complexity? And, if this increasing complexity is puzzling and unsettling these adult learners, what might it be doing for the students in classrooms around our country?  Might it be that woven through each individual challenge (whether it’s finding the problem as Sue writes about or inviting a friend over after school) is a growing demand for our participation and contribution in a more complex world? And would we adults—who are dizzied by the complexity around us—be able to help prepare young people for this uncertain future?

My daughter came home from her year 10 class with a furrow in her brow a few weeks ago. “My teacher told me today that we are preparing for careers that don’t even exist yet!” she told me, frustrated. “How on earth are we supposed to plan for that?”

How indeed. It may well be that helping all of us develop a greater facility for complexity and uncertainty is a core piece of 21st Century education. As you think about your experience as a growing and changing adult, what has helped you get better at that?

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Countdown to the Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012

April 20th, 2012

Countdown to The Shifting Thinking Workshop, May 3-4 ……

We look forward to seeing you in just under two weeks! (Make sure you don’t forget to register, if you haven’t already)

Below you’ll find some helpful information prior to the Workshop and a small request…

1. Pre-Workshop: Please answer these two questions!

Prior to the Workshop, please take a few minutes to respond to two questions (and a third optional question).
Make sure you scroll down to the bottom and click “submit” when you have completed your answers.

If you can’t see the form below click here.

2. Workshop start times 

Day 1 (Thursday) begins at St James Theatre, 63-95 Courtenay Place.  Tea and coffee will be available from 8 a.m, the registration desk will be open from 8.15 a.m. and all participants should be ready for the welcome at 9am.

Day 2  (Friday) begins with tea and coffee at 8.30 a.m and we kick off with a warmup for our day’s activities at 9.a.m 

3. Coming directly from the airport?

If you are flying into Wellington on Thursday morning and coming directly to the St James Theatre, there will be space to store your bags for the day.

Options and approximate costs for getting to the St James from the airport are given below:

1.  Airport flyer (bus), $7.50 Timetable. Note that this bus stops directly outside the St James Theatre (Stop #5002). This is the next  stop after the Courtenay Place Paramount stop indicated on the pdf timetable.
2. Green Cab Taxi, $24 estimated cost to St James.
3. Wellington Combined Taxi, $30 estimated cost to St James.
4. Combined Shuttle, $15 plus $5 for each person.
    Minimum of 3 people, Maximum of 11 people.
    Cap at $55 when 8 people in cab.

4. Start thinking about the entry point session options

Details about each of the  entry point session options are  posted on the Shifting Thinking Workshop page. Think about which sessions interest you the most – Yes we know, it’s so hard to choose, they are all so good! You won’t have to decide exactly which sessions you are going to until Thursday morning, when you meet with your learning group.

5. Social interlude and dinner options on Thursday night

On Thursday evening there will be a chance to get together in a relaxed environment to chat and mingle with Workshop facilitators  and participants.  For catering purposes, we’ll check with you at registration on Thursday morning to confirm whether you will be attending. The event starts DOWNSTAIRS from the Workshop at the Jimmy Bar. Nibbles will be provided and a cash bar where you can purchase  a full range of hot and cold drinks.

We will provide a list and map of nearby restaurants  and we encourage you to make some new friends at the Workshop and take them with you as you explore Wellington’s excellent food offerings.

6. Spread the word to peers and colleagues
If you have peers and colleagues who may be interested in attending the Shifting Thinking Workshop, there are still places available – but registrations close in one week. Spread the word so they don’t miss out.

7. Follow us on Twitter, and join the Shifting Thinking online community

If you’re a Twitter user, you might might like to follow us. Remember, our Twittername is @shiftingthinkng (no final “i” in the word “thinkng”). And if you haven’t already, why not register as a member of the Shifting Thinking online community?

8. See you soon!

Workshop 2012

Finding discipline-related problems, asking discipline-related questions

April 12th, 2012

The comments from Rachel Bolstad and NZteacher both point to the kinds of questions children ask. Ideally (in my mind) we want children to ask questions and find problems that are consistent with the ‘whole game’ they are playing – whether that is the game of science, mathematics, or – in the example I gave – literary criticism.

If students are playing the whole game of literary criticism we want them to ask the types of questions of text that literary critics ask. The question asked by the students I observed – whether or not there really was a lion in the meadow – is a good example. It concerns the relationship between story and ‘reality’, and would not be out of place in a post-graduate English class. These children were also finding answers to their problem in ways consistent with the ‘whole game’ of literary criticism – by drawing on evidence from the text, their prior experiences, and the interpretations of others.

Do children and adults ask different types of questions of text? In my experience they sometimes do and this is usually due to different world views. That’s why I find talking with diverse others (including people of different ages) about a shared book more interesting than talking to people who see the world in much the same way that I do – because sometimes they ask different questions and sometimes they find different answers, or find their answers in different places. For example the children referred to above found another problem they wanted to solve in The Lion in the Meadow that never would have occurred to me. Their question was whether or not the dragon the little boy claims he sees in the meadow at the end of the story is in fact a friendly one (like the lion was). This is a very interesting question (given the ambiguous expression on the dragon’s face) and one I would never have thought to ask. I am now thinking about how we can best work together with children to construct problems and define questions that are consistent with the disciplines in which we are working.

Knowledge generation, Workshop 2012 ,

Problem finding

April 10th, 2012

I’m still thinking about the question I asked myself in my earlier posting. I think the main way the learning opportunities I offered my students differed from ‘playing the whole game’ was that my students did not get to be problem finders. According to David Perkins, playing the whole game involves not just problem solving but problem finding that is, figuring out what the problems are in the first place. In the context of subject English, for example, I was good at selecting ambiguous texts with complex problems to solve, but I rarely gave my students the opportunity to be the problem finders – I had already taken for myself the fun and the challenge of finding the problems that I thought were worth solving.

Not so long ago I was involved in a research project where I observed a group of five-year-olds being offered the opportunity to be problem finders. Their teacher dedicated a week to reading and responding to Margaret Mahy’s The Lion in the Meadow and during this time a shared problem emerged from the collective analysis of the text that was child, not teacher, initiated. The problem related to the question of whether or not there really was a lion in the meadow. This problem deeply engaged the students. It was a problem that required thinking, explanation and justification. It was a problem that stimulated the ‘curiosity, discovery, creativity, and camaraderie’ that David Perkins identifies as indicators of a ‘whole game’ activity. I am interested in what being a problem finder in other learning areas might entail. Do you know of any examples?

(You can find out more about this series of lessons here  and here.)

 

Knowledge generation, Workshop 2012

Te Wahanga on culture and identity

April 5th, 2012

Jessica Hutchings and Alex Barnes from Te Wahanga, NZCER, discuss the perspective their session on identity and culture will bring to shifting thinking about participating and contributing.

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Why do we find it difficult to share power with learners?

April 5th, 2012

Why is it often difficult to give up control and share power with our learners, even when we believe this is important? Jenny Whatman says she drew her inspiration from an incident that occurred more than 30 years ago, when she was a drama teacher in an Auckland secondary school. You’ll have a chance to explore these ideas through process drama in the “sharing power and responsibility” entry point session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop

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What does knowledge-creation look like in the classroom?

April 4th, 2012

In this video NZCER chief researcher Rose Hipkins says getting students to participate in and contribute to the creation of new knowledge is something she has long seen as a dilemma, since she was a classroom teacher. She talks about the entry point session at the 2012 Shifting Thinking Workshop. Read more about this session in Sue McDowall’s previous blogposting.

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Playing the Whole Game

April 4th, 2012

Work in the field of 21st century learning talks of the need for students to not just ‘receive’ knowledge but to produce it. As an ex- primary school teacher I am curious about what providing students with opportunities to produce knowledge actually means in practice. How do we provide opportunities for seven-year-olds, for example, to produce knowledge and what does it look like when they do? I found David Perkins’ book Making Learning Whole helpful in answering questions like these.  You can hear David Perkins talking about some of his ideas here.

In this book David Perkins argues that we need to provide students not just with opportunities to practice skills in isolation, but with opportunities to ‘play the whole game’ of different learning areas.  Using baseball as an example, he describes how teachers might go about doing this in the context of school learning, suggesting that for beginners what we need is a good junior version of the game.  According to Perkins, organizing learning around a ‘whole game’ involves engaging learners in some kind of inquiry or performance and producing something such as a solution, an image, a story, an essay, or a model. This got me thinking ‘How is this different from what I already did as a teacher?’, at least in the areas I felt most proficient, such as art and subject English.

You might like to watch this video of Rose Hipkins discussing our plans for a session on this entry point at the upcoming Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012.

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What do people want from a Workshop?

April 4th, 2012

What do people want from a workshop? We have thought long and hard about this question. Listen as Jennifer Garvey Berger describes how this question has influenced the design of the Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012

You can also hear Rachel talking about the challenges for our team to “think differently” about the Workshop’s design in this video

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