We know that it’s hard to get to conferences. They are too expensive or too far away. So we wanted to share a few of the things that we learned on our journey (some big, some small) in the hopes it might empower you in your own teaching and learning.
I have been exposed to design thinking before (originally coined by Tim Brown of IDEO), but I then went to a session this week that really pulled it all together. Patrice Dawkins-Jackson and Wendy Kelly of Atlanta allowed us to engage in a design thinking activity from start to finish.
We watched video clips of real people explaining a particular situation. Then we divided into small groups to identify a problem related to the situation. My group then brainstormed a variety of solutions and built a prototype (with craft materials – think low tech). It promoted critical thinking, engagement, communication, and empathy. I am far more likely to utilize design thinking in my classroom, school, and yes, even in my personal life. I might begin by having my own children do some design thinking about making our crazy, frantic mornings less crazy and frantic. So shout out to Patrice and Wendy, for being energized presenters who gave me lots to think about and share. I encourage you to check out Designing Thinking if you haven’t already. Here is a great place to start.
We also encountered a lot of strategies at Empower #17. Here are three faves:
#Hastag: One educator I met from Florida, shared that she uses hashtags as a form of annotation. Students read a paragraph and then write a hashtag to capture its essence. This seems like such an easy way to meet kids where they are. #awesome
Scavenger Hunt: This activity from the Thoughtful Classroom was to give students arguments from a text and then to have them locate those arguments. As example, they listed five things about the Gettysburg Address, such as Lincoln believed the nation was at a crossroads. We then had to find evidence in the text that proved this. This is a quick way to wed critical thinking and reading.
Make a Hypothesis- (also from the Thoughtful Classroom - I named the activity because they didn't) Kids are given a thought provoking question (their example was something along the lines of Why did Dinosaurs become extinct?) and it is followed by a series of facts related to the question. Students then sort the facts into similar themes and use the facts (whichever they choose) to answer the question in the form of an argument. I liked this model because it works on getting students to create an argument without asking them to worry about the research component.
Can you say Vendors?
I have never seen so many educational products under one roof. It was overwhelming, but I did see a few products that I loved.
The Teacher’s Pet. It’s this dry erase board cloth that’s cute, brightly colored and doesn’t require spray. As a dry erase board junkie, I want one for me and 30 of the student size for my kids.
Oodle. This fun stool comes in sections so you can change the stool height, and they are large enough to be comfortable, plus they rock, but can’t tip over. Lastly, you can switch out the bottom of the stool to keep it from rocking back and forth if you need a steady surface. They are pricey at $120. But one or two in a room could be perfect for kids who need to move in order to learn.
Lastly, I fell in love with yes, another white board product called KleenSlate. They have handles so kids can show their answers more readily or share their thinking with friends and they come with the marker (that snaps into the handle for storage) and an eraser cloth tied to the board. You can even insert different pages into them, such as graph paper or diagrams. I can’t afford a class set, but I could see buying a set for a department to be shared or buying a few that could be used in group competitions or groups.
Alright, whew. I just threw a lot at you. That’s kinda how we felt at ASCD. So many ideas, so many educators to connect with, so much energy to soak up. When is Empower18? We’re ready.
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