I recently listened to an interview with Ian McGilchrist on NPR's Hidden Brain Podcast. The subject of the discussion is 'Why is the brain divided?' The answer opened a whole new perspective for me not only as it relates to design thinking, but also in my personal and professional relationships.
McGilchrist contends that the brain is not split so that each side controls particular actions or processes. Rather, the brain is designed to function collaboratively with the right side focused on the big picture, and the left side focused on detail. The left brain also prefers black & white; solving problems with workable solutions, while the right brain is all grey area; interpreting nuance, metaphor, and meaning.
I immediately started making connections. My husband and I tend to butt heads in the way we approach problem-solving. He's an engineer and musician. He's always looking for detail, proof, and mapped out suggestions i.e. music, engineering. I, on the other hand, tend to make broad suggestions, based on 'the long run,' letting things morph as they happen, i.e., teacher, design thinking consultant. See where I'm headed? What I found most interesting, is that ideologically he leans right while I lean left. Which I find ironic given what appears to be our individual brain strengths. And I even got a wry smile from him when I suggested we start telling people we've switched sides! ;)
This got me thinking-no pun intended! There are generally two types of people; detail-oriented and big-picture. But much like the brain neither can function successfully without the other. Without the creativity of the right-brained, innovation would never happen. You need a big-picture view, unconcerned with detail to get started on a project. However, these grand ideas would never get off the ground without the left-brained alongside to analyze, clarify, and calculate the specifics.
And this is where design thinking fits in perfectly. You leverage the strengths of both sides of the brains in your organization; imagining what could be in concert with how it can be. If you approach this process recognizing which side of the brain your individual team members work from, they can more readily overcome challenges that may arise related to work style, communication style, and embedded expectations.
approx read time : 1:30
I recently had the privilege of participating in a digital citizen panel of experts included students (!) alongside Simon Helton, Richard Culatta, Sandy Barnes and was chat moderated by Alysha English of the IDEO Teachers Guild. First, let me just say how excited I was to learn about the IDEO Teachers Guild. This amazing space brings teachers together to collaborate on designing creative solutions to common challenges. The challenge related to the chat I attended was “HMW empower students to be better digital citizens - smart, kind, and secure online?” You can see all the project submissions here. No winners or losers (woot!) but you can check out which activities got the most likes to become ‘favorites’.
The chat started out asking for a definition of ‘digital citizen’. In the old days (i.e. last year) the term digital citizen conjured up images of staving off cyber-bullying, copyright best practice and a list of ‘don’ts’ by which student (and teachers) could monitor ‘acceptable use’. Fast forward to today and we have students leading national political discourse and inventing products and systems that improve lives and societies.
Sound use of technology (aka Digital Citizenship) is no longer just about keyboarding and citations. Citizenship in the offline world is characterized by engagement in community; including those with a different point of view. Digital citizenship simply transfers that behavior to the place where most of our interactions (for better or worse) take place.
Many kids have learned to “THINK’ before they post but if we’re truly teaching digital citizenship why aren’t we asking them to THINK as they create? Is their work true, honest, inspiring, necessary and kind?* What does that look like? It’s the following list of technology ‘do's’
If we shift our thinking about Digital Citizenship from ‘don’ts’ to ‘dos’ we create a framework for instruction on appropriate engagement that’s relevant including; respectful dissent and thoughtful discourse, integrity in representing work as your own or another’s, setting standards by reporting inappropriate use, collaboration, analysis of data for bias, curating and creating engaging content that connects with an authentic audience.
I challenge you to THINK how you might model and encourage positive digital citizenship in your next lesson.
*Editor’s note: Some schools list the ‘i’ as illegal. Consider how this might reinforce the us vs. them attitude in teens. How can you build positive relationships when the establishment is assuming the kids are criminals?
approx read time: 2 min.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a coach with you in the classroom whenever you wanted? You know, someone who watches you play your game, and then helps you adjust your technique.
Imagine you got a great idea from a blog post, Twitter chat or conference workshop over the weekend. You’re going to try it out Monday. Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could be there to watch and give you some feedback, engage in some reflection? Someone who knows the learning targets, but is free to watch the action unfold rather than be caught up in facilitating?
Or maybe you have a tried and true activity that could use a refresh. It flows wonderfully, but you want to build on it and take it to the next level. Unfortunately, when one is engaged in facilitating the lesson, opportunities to observe and learn as a teacher are few and far between.
One way to see it all is with the use of a tool like Swivl. This little robotic video stand offers a great option to observe and reflect on your practice. You can either set it in a convenient spot and let it go, or you can wear the marker and have it follow you around as you speak. Upload your video and watch at your leisure. And if you choose, you can invite others to comment by sharing your video. You can expand this out to filming students as they work individually, in small groups or presenting. Share clips with students as exemplars. Using Swivl is an easy way to step into using the ISTE educator standards as you strive to increase modeling, collaboration, and student choice. Use Swivl to:
Leave a comment below to share how you’ve used Swivl or other video coaching methods to improve teaching and learning.
Headed to MACUL18 this week? Me too! And you're cordially invited to any one (or all) of my three great sessions!
Thursday from 3-430 take a deeper dive into Google mapping tools; Earth, Tour Builder, My Maps & Lit Trips, at my What a Wonderful World session. Follow this link to a one page handout with session description and resources.
Friday I'll be presenting Formative Assessment by Design. This talk highlights the role of formative assessment and some of tech tools you can use to support empowering learners and create lessons targeted to the individual needs of each student. Follow this link for complete session description and handout.
Friday afternoon I'm back at it from 1-2 co-presenting with physics teacher extraordinaire, Elizabeth Maitner from Catholic Central high school. Elizabeth is sharing a project she did with students in which they applied for a grant and used the funds to build a drone! Not trained in project-based learning, this project developed organically when she told the kids, "if you want to do this, we need funding and I can't do it alone!" Learn from us the what, why and how of connecting with community to make it happen.
approx read time: 2min +3 min for linked article
I came across an article this week from KQED Mindshift with tips for parents and teachers on how to talk to kids about terrible things. The last item focuses on the role of social media and how it amplifies the experience for kids, even those who aren't directly involved. Many kids saw what happened in Parkland in live time on social media and then turned to their peers in an effort to process the unimaginable. As the news cycle started churning, there was little opportunity to escape the carnage, fear, and confusion. KQED mentions how kids may feel that they can't walk away from a conversation about such an event for fear of being judged as uncaring. It's just another example of how social media use is pushing our kids into situations they just aren't ready for. I don't mean sheltering them from these types of events they deserve to know what's happening in the world, but rather them being able to grieve in a personal way. My heart aches for them all.
One of my most vivid memories from high school is how I felt in the wake of the death of a friend from carbon monoxide poisoning. It shook me to the core, but I didn't have words to describe my emotions. I needed to be quiet and alone to figure it out. I can't imagine being made to feel guilty about that on top of the anguish and confusion in the face of mortality.
I think about my work as an Internet safety presenter at Protect Young Eyes and realize that "it truly "takes a village'. As schools prepare to join nationwide walk-outs in the coming weeks, this topic is going to continue to resonate for our kiddos. It's imperative that teachers and parents are aware of what's going on in their world, even in the seemingly 'safe space' of a friends.
So I'm one of those who grew up mildly to mostly uncomfortable with math. As a high school student. I excelled at linguistics, and intellectual though processes. But math just didn't add up (haha) I loved the proofs of geometry. The built in meta-cognition worked for me. But algebra? in the traditional manner of do all the odd (or even) problems, show all your work, one right answer? Not so much. Sound familiar?
Now that I'm a part time field supervisor, coaching student teachers in all content areas, I've been brushing up on content specific methods and strategies. Enter Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. This book has been life-changing. And it aligns with the design thinking work I've been doing the last couple of years. Whether you're a math teacher or not, this book is for you. Boaler provides excellent examples of how to create a collaborative classroom where students learn that there really is no such thing as a mistake. Instead, they are encouraged to share and debate ideas based on the familiar, claim, evidence, reasoning technique we see in science and language arts. Armed with the basics of number sense, students discover math facts for themselves in a constructivist style of learning. We are reminded that while there may be a right answer, there is no one right way to arrive at that answer and the power of allowing students to explore and explain their thinking.
Boaler provides tons of great examples of simple 'games' aka activities to encourage this thinking including one of my new favorite apps kenken puzzles along with a variety of resources from youcubed.org that will start you on the way to understanding the benefit of a growth mindset in mathematics.
She touches on a variety of related topics as well, such as the benefits of heterogeneous vs. homogeneous grouping in math classes. Her position on the role of homework is particularly relevant to any content area. She espouses the value of reflection as opposed to repetition, advocating for a sort of flipped classroom model in which the practice and discover is done in class with students engaging in self-assessment as homework.
As I visit schools and have sat in on curriculum committee work, I routinely hear how math is 'special' that there is such a broad range of abilities teachers require special consideration in designing programs that essentially track students and impose upon them a fixed mindset related to math ability, setting them up continued struggle, failure and lowered self-esteem. Jo Boaler offers practical methods that can be implemented without a complete curriculum re-write that will ease the tension and frustration for students and teachers alike. Add this book to your summer reading list!
approx read time: 2 min.
So much happened in the second half of 2017, I thought I'd catch up in this first post of 2018 and let you all know what I've been up to. It's been a busy fall as I settle into my new role as an an independent consultant. Getting a business up and running is something new for me and I'm happy to report that things are falling into place. So... what have I been up to you may ask? Well the real question is, what haven't I been up to?
First, training and presentations! I had the pleasure of working with John Sowash of Sowash Ventures to provide Google training for a few schools to start the year. I tagged along with him to Chandler Park Academy to get the middle school staff up to speed on Chromebooks. Then it was off to Rochester, NY for a day with the elementary staff at Manchester-Shortsville.
I also presented at Bay Arenac ISD's back to school PD on Google mapping tools (check out my maps in g-drive!), VR in the classroom, non-boring lectures and formative assessment tools. Mi Google was my next stop, with a session targeted to ELA teachers. Their favorites? symbaloo.edu, newsela, and read&write; all great resources for any content area. Finally keynoting the MANS second annual tech gathering with a great session on empathy and tech integration.
Second, Internet safety and digital citizenship. I've been working with the team at Protect Young Eyes visiting schools and churches from Grand Rapids, MI to Dallas, TX sharing an their incredible Internet safety message to kids k-12 and parents. It's been amazing! I'm also pleased to have been the lead curriculum designer for PYE's newest project, Virtue in Media, a faith-based k-8 digital citizenship curriculum.
Last but not least, Aquinas College, College of Ed Field Supervisor. I'm just starting my second semester as a student teacher field supervisor. It's such a privilege to work so closely with pre-service teachers. It's so valuable to see teaching through their eyes and to visit so many classrooms and schools throughout the Grand Rapids area. Not sure who's learning more, them or me! I've also been invited to present in their seminars on design thinking, tech integration, and Understanding by Design.
To top it all off, I've got a couple of proposals out for work this spring and next fall. I'm getting ready to present at the GVSU Math in Action Conference as well as MACUL and I've moved a few books from the 'to read' to the 'read that' list. The one that's made the biggest impression on me is Mathematical Mindsets. Look for a complete review in my next post.
So... here we go 2018 seatbelts fastened! It's going to be a wild ride... :)
Gearing up for the school year, I've been working on a number of presentations and a common theme seems to be popping up: Empathy. I'll be revisiting this topic with some concrete examples of how empathy effects our work in the classroom, but wanted to share a few general thoughts as you all get ready to step up to the podium next week.
Empathy is most often defined as the ability to 'walk a mile in another person's shoes'. And many of us (esp. educators!) think we have this pretty locked up. It's a wonderful characteristic to have and we often pride ourselves on this ability. But be careful, empathy is a thin line; just believing you are empathetic puts you at risk of not being so. It is something we have to consciously practice. It's a mindset by which we live our lives aware that what we assume or presume may very well not be accurate, and allowing space for the perspective of others.
This is incredibly important in the classroom from building relationships, to supporting personalized learning, and engaging in meaningful formative assessment. So...let's get started! First and foremost, let's get back to being a kid. Let's get back to a time when even an ant crossing the sidewalk with a crumb was something to that would cause you to stop, point, squeal and fill you with such excitement and wonder that you just had to share it with everyone around you. Remember what it was like to feel emotions with such totality? To have a complete melt-down; to jump, squeal and laugh uncontrollably; to tug at your neighbor's sleeve until they joined in your wonder? It's probably been a while for most of you. So, before you continue with this post. Watch this wonderful video from Jason DaSilva at Shots of Awe (2 minutes) . I'll wait...
Wasn't that refreshing? So let's reflect on what this means in the classroom. Take the next 5 minutes and consider this: If you approach everything in your practice, (i.e. lesson planning, classroom management, communication with parents) remembering that this is how kids experience the world:
What might you do to tap into your childlike sense of wonder, to walk a mile in your students' shoes? And by extension, what might you do differently to ignite that sense of curiosity and wonder in them when faced with learning standards & objectives? What might you do differently to engage those excitable (or not-so-excitable) students?
Post your ideas and reactions below.
5 Steps for Redesigning Your Learning Environment
reading time: approx 3 min
Summer’s here! That time of year when teachers take a breath and reflect on what they want to do differently in the coming year. What better time to envision how you can tweak your classroom to better accommodate collaborative, personalized, project-based learning. I recently read The Third Teacher; 79 Ways You Can Use Design to Transform Teaching & Learning. (website link) Turns out, the three teachers are 1. adults, 2. peers, and 3. educational environment. And while a complete reno may be the ideal way to go, there’s no need to wait for a donor, bond approval or major grant to get started. From cafeteria services and custodial products to daylight, seating, student voice and community involvement simple school environment hacks can add measurable value to the learning process. Use the following 5 steps as you reflect on 16-17 and get ready to make 17-18 the start of something new.
Carol Glanville, M.Ed.
Organizational Design Consultant