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

Design Thinking Discussion

Last week, as part of Connected Educators Month, I organised a Hangout on Design Thinking. Design Thinking has become quite a buzzword lately with many more teachers investigating it as an approach, The aim of this Hangout was to have both Primary and Secondary educators from New Zealand (Kimberly Barrs and myself), Australia (Zeina Chalich and Tim Osborne) and the United States (Mary Cantwell, Lisa Abel-Palmieri and Dan Ryder) discussing what it adds to their classroom, how they got started and what others should do to get started.

Here’s how the awesomeness unfolded:

 

 

Google Thinking, Lone Nuts and Moonshots

Last week I was part of the 2014 Google Teachers Academy in Sydney. 50 teachers from across NZ and Australia had been selected to attend this 2 day experience at Google Sydney. Despite all our inherent differences – age, locations, expectations of the next 2 days, positions of leadership – we were all the same in that we all want change in education. Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry from No Tosh had assembled an awesome team of mentors from last year’s GTA to lead us towards making this change happen.

It started off like any other edu conference these days. People meeting outside the building (or in coffee shops just beside) some that know each other already, but the majority being those wonderful first f2f meet ups. Hugs, hand shaking and introductions out of the way we were then let into the Google buildings (yes, they have 3 in Sydney).

It was obvious from the start that this was not going to be like previous Google Teacher Academies. The first to be led by No Tosh, this was far more about Google thinking than Google products (much to my relief as this was what I had applied for – to push my thinking not for a 48 hour tool slam). Even when the mentors presented Google tools these were shared in 3 presentations through the lenses of community, curiosity and creativity.

The venue was amazing with all the Google expectations: a jungle room for relaxation, endless food, monorail cabin as an office, scooters and unicycles for travelling between offices, endless food, a games room, maker space and did I mention endless food?

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Amy, Matt, myself and Suan in the Jungle Room image courtesy of Claire

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

Take your pick for moving between the buildings

But, the real highlight for me was the Design Thinking process we were lead through. Continue reading

Refining to a Focus

It’s that time of term where students have been really using their knowledge to develop deeper understandings. For the modules I teach, the last 2 weeks have been full on action time generating possible actions/solutions/products, refining them down and taking action.

Under the d.School Design Thinking process this would be the Ideate and Prototype stages; those using DEEP Design Thinking would know it as Experiment and Produce. For us at Hobsonville Point we use the language from our Learning Design Model below:

HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

So, the last 2 weeks have seen us talking about Generate, Refine, Focus and Test. 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

Prototypes, Errors and Focus

Interesting day yesterday: figured out a way to make a prototype work, developed a 2nd prototype, discarded both prototypes for a list of questions.

We are currently evaluating and reviewing our module structures to check how they are working for student learning. Staff have completed an evaluation of these structures, the student evaluation survey closes today and as Specialised Learning Leaders we have added our thoughts and concerns. Continue reading

All is well, or is it?

I was worried how last week would go. How could I possibly keep up the excited puppy heights of hosting the Geography Awareness Week TeachMeetNZ and being at the inaugural EdChatNZ conference?

The Monday following EdchatNZ conference saw me spend the day in the Take Action big module I am co-teaching with Bryce and Martin. I spent 2 of our blocks helping Martin in the workshop as students constructed marble runs while their groups were affected by changes in government policies.

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Students also had similar experiences with Bryce as they played Volleyball with Government policies affecting the rules for each team. The final block focused in on actions we can take as citizens other than voting and brainstorming issues of interest to the students. Continue reading

How Might We best share our Geography practices?

Each year I help to organise our Geography Awareness Week in New Zealand. Most of the time it is about creating some quiz resources and a couple of fun activities to help students see the relevance of Geography to their lives. This year I wanted to get Geography teachers across the country sharing their best practice. Some subjects have started twitter chats (#engchatnz and #scichatnz) but I wanted to have an event that would enable non-twitter users to engage in conversation as well. This led to us having a Geography Teach Meet NZ online yesterday:

Thanks to the amazing Sonya Van Schaijik for helping us get this together. There were some great ideas shared and I have had really positive comments from Geography teachers (both on twitter and in the “real world”) about how they found it.

Kim Randall shared Google Maps Engine Lite which is a free web based GIS tool, an incredible resource for us Geo teachers. I look forward to playing with this and getting to know it better!

Steve Smith spoke about taking overseas field trips. Although harder to organise, the payoff is definitely worth it with the passion and engagement it brings.

I spoke about how Design Thinking can work in Geography. If you follow this blog you will not be surprised about this topic (see my other posts on Design Thinking here).

Craig Perry shared how he uses SOLO Taxonomy in Geography to help make learning visible for students.

Heather Eccles was lucky last sharing the power of making authentic connections around the world with her students.

Hopefully, this has helped provoke discussions about effective pedagogy in our Geography classrooms. The challenge now is how do we keep the discussions going? The Pond may provide space for this in future when the Communities function is set up but this will take some time. I’m not sure enough NZ Geographers are on twitter for chats to be the answer. Leaving me with my question for today:

How Might We best share our Geography practices?

 

This post is part of My Questioning Quest.

 p.s. mind turning after posting this. VLN could be a good place but I like the idea of international connections being able to contribute as well. With so many schools moving to GAFE is a Google+ Community the answer for this?

How might we use e-tools to amplify the learning in Design Thinking?

In teaching, if an e-tool will amplify the learning we are aiming for then it is worth using that tool. Today I started musing on the learning occurring when I use Design Thinking in my classes and where e-tools may have an amplification effect.

Late last year I wrote about why I feel Design Thinking is a powerful pedagogical approach and recently I wrote about what this looks like for one of my modules.

Within this module students used e-tools to:

  • collaborate on Google Docs when generating and refining questions
  • a variety of tools for prototyping – Minecraft, house design sites, Google sites
  • a couple had website products they developed

Now these are all good uses of e-tools but I don’t feel they are unlocking an extra level of learning that other tools wouldn’t. I’m sure there is an opportunity here, I just can’t see it yet.

So, how might we use e-tools to amplify the already awesome learning that occurs during the Design Thinking process?

 

This post was Day 9 of My Questioning Quest.