Design Thinking: A creative process for school change

During one of my workshops last year in Boston, Brad Ovenell-Carter (@braddo) put his visual notetaking skills to action. I took his lovely summary drawing and used ThingLink to add layers of information and elaboration.

In the future I am keen to share more about my experiences of design thinking with school leaders, teachers and other organisations in blog posts here. But I thought I would make a quick start by sharing this little graphic. I hope you find it useful and let me know if you have any questions.

15 Interesting Ways to use Google Maps to Support Learning

As many of you will know I am a bit of a map nerd and have always enjoyed peering down at the Earth through a map or using tools like Google Earth and Maps. In the past I have explored ways to use the strong visual resource to inspire writing and all sorts of other learning.

It is good to dust off this Interesting Ways resource, which is still emerging – it would be lovely to have you help extend the resource with more ideas about using Google Maps to support learning.

To add an idea use the little cog icon on the presentation above and click “Open Editor” – jump to the last slide and follow the instructions.

It would be great to see this resource developed further and is a great opportunity for you and your colleagues to share some of the creative ways you use Google Maps.

Practical Steps to Get Out of the Way of Children’s Thinking

Eleanor Duckworth’s work on Critical Explorers asserts that the combination of: teachers as curriculum designers and the focus on children’s thinking and not simply our own, is a powerful learning duo.

Today we take a further look at some practical questioning strategies she has outlined in her work and a hexagonal thinking strategy you can use. The following is from the Critical Explorers site where you can delve more deeply into the ideas she offers.

Catch students’ interest

  • Try to convey that you think they’ll enjoy exploring this image (or text, or map, etc.), and that what they are doing and saying sheds new light for you on the object. It always does.
  • Try to keep them thinking about it, even when they may think they have done all they can.
  • Try to find out what they are thinking about the image, and to follow their thinking as it changes.

For example:

Ask for observations:

  • Start with a question that allows for a very small answer, where everyone has something to say — for example, “What do you notice?”
  • Ask them to point to the image and show everyone what they are talking about.
  • Ask what else they notice.
  • Ask them to say more about an observation they’ve made.

Ask for clarification:

  • Ask them to refer back to the image itself to back up whatever they have to say about it.
  • Ask them to clarify something, or to explain what makes them say what they do.
  • Make a hunch about what is behind what they say, and check the hunch with them.

Ask about conflicting or contrasting ideas:

  • Draw attention to some seeming inconsistency in what they have said.
  • Ask what about the image puzzles them.
  • Ask how what they have said fits with another part of the image, or with something they said earlier, or with something someone else has said.
  • Ask them to think about other students’ ideas, and to refer to the image to explain why they agree or disagree.

To provide further support for children we have found that a hexagonal thinking activity gives them a clear way to structure their thinking, seeing the combinations of ideas they have and manipulating their thinking in a tangible way. You can find out more about Hexagonal Thinking in our Lab post that outlines the activity and the ways you can use it in the classroom.

Furthermore you can explore a range of resources and further reading about hexagonal thinking/learning such as one of David Didau’s original posts. This post is useful from Frances Brown that extends some of the ideas and of course HOOKed on Learning’s resource page which offers many a link journey to explore.

This summary presentation from my good friend Chris Harte, a Leading Teacher at the John Monash Science School, is a great place to start.

63 Interesting Ideas for Class Blog Posts to Support Learning

I have always enjoyed supporting classroom blogging and encouraging teacher networks to share and visit each other’s work. Blogging was the social media platform that completely changed the way I learned professionally.

The single most important decision I made in my career was to begin writing a blog, and actually my class blog started at the same time.

I hope these ideas inspire you to continue your blogging work with your classes and perhaps begin writing and sharing on your own space. Please help with the resource above by considering what new ideas you could add – instructions on the last slide on how to add to it.

51 Interesting Ways to use QR Codes to Support Learning

In the Nursery class in my last school we used some QR codes to help the littlest of internet explorers navigate to their favourite websites. It seemed such an easy concept at the time and something that developed some great independence in those young learners.

Funnily enough using QR codes to navigate to specific sites proved useful for the older children too. Working in a Year 5 and 6 class I used QR codes to help the class quickly move between different web content, we gained so much more time back from sessions this way. We could focus on what we were doing with the content, not the process of getting there.

Hopefully this Interesting Ways resource for QR (Quick Response) Codes will spark some ways you can use them to support learning. As with all the resources please share with your colleagues and consider adding your own ideas to continue to develop them.