Category Archives: Inquiry

Hexagonal Thinking


img_8342

Hexagonal Thinking is a visual tool to help people make connections and organise ideas on a topic. I first learned about hexagonal thinking through the  No Tosh Lab who encourage the use of it for going from the messy idea stage of the designing thinking process to the stage where ideas are organised and ordered to work towards solutions.

I used hexagonal thinking with my class this week as a tuning in activity for our term inquiry unit “Who’s Got the Power?” which will look at Australian civics and history through the lens of current parliament.

img_8337Previously during the week, to collect pre-assessment and to get student feedback to inform unit design, I had my students list any words they had heard about this topic that they either already knew or did not know. They also listed any questions they had or things they wanted to find out more about.  

I used these words and questions to create a list of words to put on the hexagonal cards, and presented small groups with 30 words from their lists, such as government, parliament, laws, refugees, promises, tax, referendum.

The groups worked together to organise and join the word cards by linking words that they thought had strong connections. We talked about strong and weak connections, for example “Governments have lots of money” was a weak link, but “Governments have lots of responsibility because they have to control and spend money for all Australians fairly” was a strong connection, which allowed them to add more words to their honeycomb.

 

fullsizerender-2

The benefits of this activity were clear:

  • Students learned LOTS of new vocabulary (they looked up the meaning of unknown words or learnt it from a peer).
  • Learning new concepts from peers was strong (e.g. one student explaining a jury to the rest of her group by referencing a movie).
  • It was clear for me to identify areas were students have little or no knowledge to follow up in future lessons.
  • The explanations and justification had to be strong for group members to make a case to their group in order to put a card where they thought it should go, otherwise they would be overruled by the group.
  • A strong decision-making process was key for groups to be able to work collaboratively on this task.

 

Resources:

  • I made my hexagonal cards on Pam Hook’s HookEd website.
  • She also has blank templates for printing here.
  • There is a hexagonal thinking generator in ClassTools that could allow groups to work on this in a digital space instead. I did not find the Word Doc download to work on this site.

 

#DigiCon16 Presentation: Coding in the Primary Classroom

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 9.47.16 PMThis year I presented a couple of sessions at #DigiCon16, DLTV‘s annual conference.

One of the sessions I presented was Coding in the Primary Classroom: An Inquiry Into Gaming with Tamryn Kingsley. We took participants through the process of a unit we taught together with our grade 2 classes. The unit was an inquiry where students made their own games using the platform Scratch.

We have been contacted a few times since the conference to share the resources we used, so I thought I would collate them all here. All the slides and links to the resources we used are below. We would love to hear from you if you are creating your own gaming unit!

Introductory video of what scratch can do https://vimeo.com/65583694

Cheat sheets – guides for learning the basic skills of Scratch https://goo.gl/7PGfZU

Challenges – short tasks using Scratch designed to help learn basic Scratch functions  (We used About me, 10 blocks, It’s alive, Music video). http://goo.gl/CgOiO1IMG_4262

Blocks – printable Scratch blocks http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/resources/vector-scratch-blocks

 

Classic Games

Pong http://www.ponggame.org/

Pacman http://www.playpacmanonline.net/

Tetris http://tetris.com/play-tetris-flash/

Supermario Bros. http://www.ozmogames.com/games/super-mario/mario-mushrooms.play

Space invaders http://www.pacxon4u.com/space-invaders/

Angry birds  http://freeangrybirdsgame.org/play/angry_birds_online.html

 

Scratch Games

Quiz https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/86004996/?fromexplore=true

Platform Scroll https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1775702/

Punkin Chunkin https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1445936/

Bridy https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/87143678/?fromexplore=true

Arc https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/2422227/

Maze https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/10128431/

Race https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/13042816/

 

Inspiration

Mel Cashen Festival of Gaming blog post http://melcashen.com/?p=955

Darrel Branson Game Making at Mildura West www.goo.gl/BeWDbt

Reflections on Digicon

dltv_-_digicon_2015_-_logo

Wow! #Digicon15! My head exploded.

What a brilliant event with SO much going on in so many areas!

I need to reflect but my head is a jungle so I’m just going to get down anything and everything I am thinking here and see where it takes me.

These are my main takeaways and the things taking up space in my head!

 

My own presentation: Student Centred Learning in a Tech Rich Environment (with @ErinMacNamara)11249157_10152930196816479_2286937671627326159_n

  • I am super proud of myself for diving in headfirst to a terrifying experience that turned out okay and was actually kind of fun. Thanks for the push @BecSpink.
  • I have something valuable to contribute in my own tiny area of expertise. I presented on something I know about and felt comfortable to teach others about it. At first their blank stares were off-putting but after a while people started taking notes and even asked questions that I could answer with ease and eventually I felt like… “Oh… I DO know what I’m talking about”.
  • Here are the slides if you want to peruse.
  • I liked presenting and want to start having a go at doing it more often. Maybe some more Teachmeets. Heck, maybe I’ll run for president.

 

Keynote – Hamish Curry

  • “Curriculum is a guidebook, not a rulebook”. It’s so easy to get caught up inrecite-nb7q7v what the curriculum says that the meaningful learning can get lost. For me, I think this hinges on more of an inquiry approach across all areas of teaching which makes it student driven and most likely will tick off a lot of boxes along the way. This sounds very nice but it’s hard work and something I really want to improve on.
  • “Real things, real places, real people. If you can’t get those things in, you probably shouldn’t be teaching it.” Wow. This is such a great way of explaining that it’s important to make things come alive for students and to make it relevant. Should be second nature for teachers but I find once you’ve done something a few times it’s easy for it to get dry if you’re not careful (speaking from my 4th year of grade 2s in a row… sigh).

 

Keynote – Celia Coffa 

 

Explore the World with Google – Sam Vardanega

Awesome resources and ideas of what to do with them! There is so much potential in these few tools.

 

Don’t be a Textbook & Keynote – Corrie Barclay

  • Lots of reading into frameworks and models for learning to do!  Just some of them… new pedagogies for deep learning, 6C’s, The Solo Taxonomy, TPACK, ACOT2 Framework, ATC21S Framework, CCR, Competencies for 21st Century Learning.
    I always feel a bit behind when people talk about frameworks and models for learning. I am so busy at work all the time that I don’t feel like I have time to look into the ‘big picture stuff’ like this. This means I often feel like I am just ‘doing’ rather than ‘doing with intention’. I want to better understand some of the frameworks behind educational design new thinking to allow me to think more broadly and make some impacting changes to my teaching, and I think some of these that Corrie suggested are a good start. He was really interesting to listen to and challenged me to think bigger.
  • “What would irresistible learning look like?” Corrie said this was cliche but I’ve never heard it before and I like it!

 

Disruptive Thinking in Education – Anthony Speranza

Well this one still has me floored. It was simultaneously the most interesting and frustrating session I went to. There was so much to get out of it, but it all felt too big to properly process. Anthony himself said that he was still getting his head around the concept of Disruptive Thinking and what it means… glad it wasn’t just me!

  • Changing trends in what is needed in education… from content to dispositions. Teaching and modelling skills and thinking habits rather than content and knowledge is something I think I am getting much better at with experience. It is something I am working to get across in my team and sometimes this is difficult. This session reinforced that I am on the right track with encouraging this with my colleagues.recite-1q3uokg
  • “Looking at the rate of change in the world and the rate of change in schools, they’re not even close to correlating.” Most classrooms I see/have seen look exactly the same as they would have 200 years ago, except that now we arrange our tables in groups, not lines (sometimes not even this). The teacher is the dispenser of information, the students are the receivers. We have the knowledge to correct this, but not the… what? What are we missing that is stopping this from changing? Time… motivation… disinterest… fear… pressure… close-mindedness… set-in-our-ways-ness??
  • Time as currency. Could I do this maths in 20 minutes instead of one hour? Is this writing going to need more time allocated to allow it to develop? Should we work on this over a week or a month instead of moving on to the next topic?
  • What does disruption look like in my teaching? Bearing in mind that I’m still not totally sure about this concept, I think I’m doing just a little bit of disruption:
    • 1:1 iPads as a necessary and well-leveraged tool for learning
    • Blogs as a way to connect students with the world, still a long way to go here! (I’m thinking Twitter, Skype, Quadblogging)
    • “Do sharks have saliva?” “I don’t know, guys. Let’s Google it.” Teaching students how to access information that is at their fingertips, teaching them to evaluate its validity, teaching them the skills needed to decode and comprehend and assess what they find out.
    • Starting to trickle some coding into my teaching
    • Learning as the journey, not the destination… problem solving, valuing mistakes as a learning opportunity, developing resilience and nurturing curiosity.

 

Permission to Innovate (Spark Talk) – Adrian Camm

  • “The value of a curriculum is as a framework used to design meaningful learning experiences for students”. Time to get your heads out of the box, teachers. We’ve been told from day one that the AusVELS is designed as a guideline, so we need to stop treating it as a textbook. This might be scary for some, but we need to design learning experiences that reach students on a level that makes them suddenly take the wheel and take control and direction over their own learning. I’m pretty sure that’s where the valuable learning is at.
  • “This card entitles me to try something new. If it doesn’t work as well I as I wanted I will be free on criticism for my efforts. I’ll continue to pursue new ways to help my students be successful.” I would love to see my school be transformed by something as trusting, challenging and terrifying as this! In a school ripe with freshie teachers, we soak up a lot of learning sponge-style, and we’re provided with some great PD and introduced to some excellent methods as we need it, but sometimes I feel as though because we are somewhat fed what we need to know, we lose the onus to push ourselves and take control of our own learning, and begin to see improvement as something that is expected of us, that just takes up extra time at staff meetings or causes jelly legs before P&D time. I would love to see teachers with a passion, who discover something new that captures their imagination and try it out off their own bat, with time allocated to doing it throughly and in a considered way. And WITHOUT a bunch of grumpy faces in the staff room being judgemental about someone who just wants to improve their craft and transform learning for their students.

 

First up on my to do list:

  • Get blogging more with my grade! Make it valuable! Begin with Quadblogging.
  • Start a Twitter account with this year’s class, to connect with experts and other grades, to share and look outside our four walls.
  • Think of time as currency – be more flexible and smart with my planning, according to need.
  • Read about ‘student choice about how to learn’ (any article suggestions for me?)
  • Look more closely at the digital technologies curriculum and map it against the curriculum with my team. Implement lessons and blog about them as a reflection.
  • Get reading! Models, frameworks, inquiry, disruptive thinking… anything! Just take some initiative and learn something new and try it out!
  • Do my own blogging… to reflect and to share. My own workshop taught me that I have something to offer to the teaching community which made me feel all warm and fuzzy. 

Taking Action: Students as Recording Artists

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 9.13.00 pm

cooltext1674233266

Does anyone teach using the CBL model? At my school we are in our first year of implementing CBL school-wide and it is massively exciting and terrifying all at once. CBL stands for Challenge Based Learning. It is a type of inquiry process that puts the emphasis on students using technology as an integral part of their learning and requires students to think of and implement an authentic solution to a challenge.

Last term we worked on the big idea of ‘Systems’ and the challenge they were set was ‘Change the way our community uses natural resources.’ I want to share the solution my students came up with as a whole grade.

THINKING OF IDEAS
To decide on a challenge solution as a class we brainstormed all the different ideas they had for addressing the challenge. Some of the ideas that came up were:

  • Writing a news report and getting it put on the news
  • Making posters to stick up in the school and local community
  • Writing a song about how to save resources

SONG CONTENT
Writing a song was by far the most popular choice so we set to work brainstorming anything and everything they thought might be included. I gave students the task of writing words, sentences, phrases, rhymes or anything that they thought might get the message across. Everything at this point was basically a huge discussion, idea melting-pot and decision-making process between the whole grade. I stepped back and watched in amazement as my grade 2s took over, ridiculously capable.

recite-17397--1173707438-1ybes7z

LYRICS
They decided to split up into groups that focused on saving water, trees, petrol and air (saving it from pollution… haha!). They came up with some amazing stuff, with conversations such as:
“When you take a shower, try not to take ages.”
“Yeah don’t take an hour.”
“Hour rhymes with shower.. Hahah!”
“What about ‘When you take a shower don’t take an hour?'”
“Mrs Fintelman, is that okay?”
At this point I was in raptures. After this we went through a process of discussing what they knew about how to put a song together and they brought up things such as rhyming, making a catchy chorus, making the chorus about the main idea, and using beats to make it sound good, incorporating a lot of knowledge they had learnt in Performing Arts. It took about an hour for us to collaboratively write a four-verse song… no mean feat! I won’t pretend that they did the whole thing on their own but the majority of the writing was done by the students discussing, writing, changing, deleting, altering, testing and most of all collaborating.


RECORDING

UntitledI suggested using GarageBand to record their voices so students had a play with the iPad version of GarageBand to see what it could do. They soon discovered that they could add instruments and change the sounds. We voted and decided that the hard rock guitar sound was the way to go. Since no one in the class knew how to play guitar or use one to put a song together, I introduced them to the concept of the 4-chord progression frequently used in songs (if you don’t know this is, watch this song to learn about it – Note 1: I didn’t show this to the kids, Note 2: Watch out for language). They were excited and were able to play the chords after we googled them. By this point our song was really coming together! All it took from there were a few lessons about persistence and practicing and the fact that our first recording probably wasn’t going to be our best one. We had one student in the grade who learns piano and he came up with a little riff to add to the chorus, which he was ecstatic about. Finally, after a million recordings, we had a finished product.

FINISHING TOUCHES + TAKING ACTION
soundcloudcom.cardinalblue.piccollage.googleAfter this a couple of students worked on some cover art using the app Pic Collage. We then uploaded the song to Soundcloud (a website where you can upload your own original music for others to listen to and download) and discussed how anyone was going to find it. It was decided that to promote it we should use Twitter and our blog (post here). The song is really good and they are very proud of themselves. I think this is testament to what Grade 2s can achieve… an authentic, genuine action that can make a difference to the local and global community!

Listen to our incredible song “Don’t Waste our Natural Resources”!